Can Chocolate Cause Headaches?

You’re giving up something that can be beneficial when you give up dark chocolate when you have headaches, but there’s no evidence to suggest that’s necessary. According to limited scientific evidence, chocolate might trigger headaches for some patients but recommending that chocolate causes headaches is quite a stretch.

There are numerous reasons why headaches can occur, including excessive worry, tight braids, hormonal changes, and a change in diet. You might think relaxing on your couch and eating soothing dark chocolate would help reduce the pain. The result is not absolute in some way. Chocolate may or may not cause headaches.

But some food you eat and drink could.

How does chocolate affect headaches?

You probably already know that theobromine and caffeine are found in chocolate. What you might not know is that although eating chocolate makes you feel wonderful because of theobromine, drinking coffee can make you feel worse because of the caffeine.

Caffeine is known to trigger migraines. It prevents the release of adenosine, a neurotransmitter that causes blood vessel dilation. Approximately two-thirds of migraine sufferers say caffeine withdrawal causes them to experience migraines.

Caffeine may, however, help alleviate impending migraine symptoms, according to the American Migraine Foundation. It can also relieve headaches when used infrequently.

Flavanols may boost endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) activity and increase nitric oxide (NO) synthesis, which may cause vasodilatation, which is one explanation for how chocolate may relieve headache or migraine symptoms.

But current research questions the necessity of vasodilation and casts doubt on its function in migraines.

On the one hand, research shows that cocoa flavanols raise nitric oxide levels, but other studies have unexpectedly discovered that cocoa lowers nitric oxide synthesis by suppressing the expression of nitric oxide synthase.

Serotonin is another factor that may be connected between chocolate and headaches. During a headache attack, the level of this neurotransmitter rises. Serotonin is believed to be released in response to cocoa, and serotonin has been linked to the aetiology of migraines.

In chocolate, serotonin and its precursor tryptophan were discovered, with 85% cocoa content containing the most serotonin.

How to treat headaches or migraine

Prescription, over-the-counter (OTC), and complementary and alternative medicine treatments can all be used to treat migraines.

You can take over-the-counter pain relievers like Excedrin Migraine for migraines or sporadic headaches. Triptans are painkillers that your doctor might also recommend.

Your doctor will probably recommend preventative drugs if you frequently get migraine attacks. These might consist of beta-blockers, which might ease migraine attacks and lower blood pressure.

Even in those without depression, antidepressants are occasionally recommended to prevent migraine symptoms.

There is also proof that some unconventional treatments can aid in the treatment of migraines. These include biofeedback–which teaches you how to monitor your physical reactions to stress, and massage therapy–which may reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. Among these are riboflavin–a kind of vitamin B2, and supplements with magnesium.

How to prevent headache

A migraine attack can be uncomfortable and disruptive to your life. Fortunately, there are some dietary and behavioral adjustments you may do to help prevent them. 

These include:

  • Consuming less coffee, eating frequently, never missing meals, and getting enough sleep
  • Lowering your stress levels by practicing yoga, mindfulness, or meditation and minimizing the time you spend in bright lights or direct sunshine, both of which can trigger sensory migraines.
  • Regular screen breaks from the computer, television, and other screens
  • Try an elimination diet to find out if you have any food intolerances or allergies that could be causing your headaches.

What Are the Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate?

There is an additional benefit to eating dark chocolate if you suffer from migraines in addition to the fact that it is tasty. When consumed in moderation, dark chocolate provides a wide range of health advantages, some of which may indirectly aid in the prevention of migraines.

1. Lower blood pressure

It’s vital to note that eating foods containing cocoa can help lower blood pressure because migraines and high blood pressure are linked. Moderate chocolate consumption appears to be beneficial for cardiovascular health in general.   

2. Reduce the risk of diabetes

Additionally, dark chocolate seems to improve insulin sensitivity, suggesting it may help lower the chance of developing diabetes.

3. Rich in minerals

Having a high mineral content, including iron, copper, magnesium, and zinc, is another advantage of dark chocolate. The amount of these minerals in our diets is often insufficient.

You must consume the proper chocolate in order to reap these health advantages, of course. Be sure to choose dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa. Flavanols make up the majority of the health advantages of chocolate, and the more flavanols chocolate contains, the more flavanols it contains.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does migraine cause chocolate cravings?

Some people may have food cravings during the premonitory stage of a migraine attack, according to recent research. A stiff neck, excessive yawning, feeling thirsty, and fatigue are some more premonitory signs.

Can people with migraine eat chocolate?

There isn’t enough data to tell whether or not eating chocolate triggers migraines, thus the majority of migraine sufferers should be able to consume it without experiencing any issues. It’s possible that you’ve been avoiding chocolate unnecessarily if you’ve been informed that it causes migraines.

Can chocolate help migraine?

There is no proof that chocolate can relieve migraines.
However, some of the ingredients in chocolate suggest that it might, in theory, help migraine sufferers. For instance, it includes riboflavin and magnesium, both of which might lessen migraine symptoms when taken as supplements.

Now it’s your turn

After alcohol, the most common food to cause a migraine attack is chocolate, which has been linked to migraine attacks by epidemiological studies. Even though there is little research connecting headaches to chocolate, if you get migraines, it’s best to reduce your intake.

Migraine sufferers are generally advised to avoid caffeine to prevent becoming dependent on it and experiencing headaches when they withdraw.

Works Cited

“Brasil – Trigger factors in migraine patients Trigger factors in migraine patients.” SciELO, 10 September 2008, Accessed 23 November 2022.

“Dark Chocolate | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Accessed 23 November 2022.

“Eat well.” NHS, Accessed 22 November 2022.

“Home.” YouTube, Accessed 23 November 2022.

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Jalloh, Mohamed. “Excedrin Migraine: What to Know.” Healthline, Accessed 23 November 2022.

Kromhout, Daan. “Cocoa intake, blood pressure, and cardiovascular mortality: the Zutphen Elderly Study.” PubMed, 27 February 2006, Accessed 24 November 2022.

Kuruvilla, Deena. “Severe Migraine Treatment: What Are Your Options?” Healthline, Accessed 23 November 2022.

“Nitrate.” Wikipedia, Accessed 22 November 2022.

“Stages of a migraine attack.” The Migraine Trust, Accessed 23 November 2022.

“To Eat or Not to eat: A Review of the Relationship between Chocolate and Migraines.” NCBI, 26 February 2020, Accessed 23 November 2022.

“To Eat or Not to eat: A Review of the Relationship between Chocolate and Migraines.” NCBI, 26 February 2020, Accessed 22 November 2022.

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From chocolate craving to winter hot cocoa drinks indulgence - I've being through it all. In as much as I'm always learning about the awesomeness of cacao/cocoa beans, there's one thing I know for sure. Quality cocoa product always comes tops. The devil is in the details. That's why you should listen to me. I've done the research. I've made all the mistakes in the books. Yes, I'm just like you but I know a thing or two that can help you make a better choice.