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Aw, Nuts! Another Migraine Trigger?

Post-peanut butter, nuts have become a go-to food for me. When I’m hungry and can’t think about food, I put almond butter on a bagel. If I’m going to be away from home for awhile, I bring a bag of trail mix along. Turns out these good-for-you snacks aren’t so smart for me.

Last Tuesday I noticed that I had a migraine about 30 minutes after lunch, which I was able to abort. Then I had another one come on within an hour after dinner. The similarity between these two meals? Almond butter. Hmm, could this spell migraine food trigger?

Finally heeding the signals, I stopped eating nuts. Here’s the rundown since then:

  • All my symptoms were present Wednesday at a moderate level, but there was no spike in pain or exhaustion.
  • Thursday I had little pain and spaciness until evening. It was a long, intense, busy day. I was worn out, a little “off” and slightly headachy when I got home around 4:30. The migraine that followed lasted through Friday night.
  • Saturday I woke up with lots of energy. After three hours at full speed, I felt spacey and tired. The pain came on in the late afternoon, but I was able to abort all the severe symptoms with a caffeine.
  • Sunday started with an energy surplus that lasted a couple hours. Then I was tired off and on, but other symptoms never popped up and my headache pain was low all day.
  • Monday, I went to a coffeehouse to work — and wound up writing for four hours! By 3 p.m. I was tired and my headache was moderate, so I rested between 3 and 6. After that, I was good to go until bedtime.

These are the highlights of course. I’ve still had moderate to severe head pain most nights, get spacey, feel tired, and need to rest every day. The nuts can’t hold all the blame, so I’m also being hypervigilant to not wear myself out. This morning started out slow, but I still went to yoga and the grocery store. I’m beginning to droop again, but I enjoyed my class and have gotten to enjoy some of this glorious Seattle day.

As wonderful as they are, nut can’t provide the same joy as not being chained to the couch nearly all day every day.

42 Responses to Aw, Nuts! Another Migraine Trigger?

  1. ErinM says:

    Yep, nuts are a trigger of mine too. I can have some… but not too much. And I can’t mix them with other triggers.

    I really hate that I can’t eat too much of them. It’s pretty much the only protien that I can tote along with me if I’ll be away from the house.

    ********
    That’s the most frustrating part for me too.

    Kerrie

  2. I have had migraines for years..Recently i gave up almond butter as well as peanut butter…In the past 3 weeks of no almond butter i have had ZERO migraines?

    At the same time i gave all this up and it has been hard since nuts are in everyhting, i also began taking 400 mg of Riboflavin and increased by B12 as well.

    Now i don’t know which is the key…

    Any experience with B vitamins for migraines?

  3. Kate says:

    I have been a mgr sufferer for forty years. In the last decade I have discovered that various foods are really problematic for me, including chocolate, alcohol and coffee. I was afraid it was the caffeine until it was explained to me that the problem with coffee is the OIL. So, tea is fine. Meanwhile, I have had all these mgrs since Xmas, when I started eating walnuts on squash for breakfast (I know, I am weird). I had NO IDEA it might be the nuts. I am off them as of now and will report back. Thanks for the heads up. Glad to know we are all in this together and battling it out with the monster migraine meister. -Kate

  4. Becky says:

    I to am victim of migraine headaches. Last year I was getting them frequently till August 23rd which is the date I started drinking 2 Tbs of Apple cider vinegar daily. I did not suffer from a migraine again till just a few days ago on May 23rd. The only things different I did was I had eaten a lot of almonds that day and the days before it. I also had tuna for lunch. ?? not sure if thats a trigger. I am thinking it was the almonds.

  5. Lola in Seattle says:

    I work in health care and am like the cobbler’s kid with no shoes..so after advising everyone else to keep a food journal, I finally did it myself and figured out nuts are the common denominator…the migraine does not start until about 6 hours after I eat them though. Both peanuts and almonds are triggers..well, hope I have at least one thing figured out…migraine’s are disabling me… i will try apple cider vinegar…I’ve heard that from someone else too!

  6. Danielle in New Haven says:

    May 26th, 2009
    I def. have a correlation between nuts and migraines – I can almost guarantee that I’ll have a migraine if I eat peanut butter!!!! Sucks, because I love it!!!! Also yogurt will give me a migraine – weird, but true!!!

  7. Daniel Hudon says:

    Peanuts have long been a problem for me and I’m now trying to figure out if I’m having a problem with almonds or not. I’ll be upset if I am.
    But I’d also like to mention that beyond peanuts, which are legumes, many other legumes are trouble for me too — peas, snow peas, lentils, so you may want to be vigilant about some of these closely related things

  8. Natalia Saxvik says:

    Everytime I eat almonds I get a feeling of coming migraine attack. I noticed that water with lemon helps a lot. I asked my naturopath doctor about it and he told me that lemon helps to flush bile (some how it’s related to migraines)

  9. Kashish says:

    I have lately realized the cause of my headaches are almonds, I refused to accept it initially because I love almond based chocolates and sweets, also some roasted ones with my beverages. I have stayed away from them for the past 2 weeks and haven’t gotten a headache.

  10. Karen says:

    I am discovering that FOOD is a trigger for me. At least, that’s what it seems like. I have a new neurosurgeon, and he has a list of trigger foods. The common component is tyramine, and it’s in all nuts and seeds.

    I don’t know how I will survive without the peanut butter. I eat it every day.

  11. Debbie says:

    I have been blaming my migraines on caffeine and/or processed sugars for years. While it is true that processed sugars do give me migraine, I still had them when I did not eat sugar. I have recently stopped eating almost all nuts and have suffered 3 days after with light headed, nausea, dizziness and almost a costant headache. Thanks for this information!

  12. Gary says:

    I loved peanut butter and ate a lot of it. I started getting headaches that would last all day. I discovered that it was peanuts that caused them. Sun butter is a product made from sunflower seeds. It taste very much like peanut butter. Try sun butter I think you will like it and no headaches.

  13. dustin says:

    I rarley ever get headaches, even reagular ones. One day I felt very tired and fatigued. The next day I felt the same with bad headache and light headedness to the point of blotchy vision. Per freak chance my coworker and I were talking about food and he said his uncle went to the doctor for sudden migranes and found out he was getting them because he was recently eating large amounts of almonds. Between the day I started feeling off and the day before, I had had eaten about 30 0z of mixed nuts, the second most in the mix was almonds. Small world.

  14. Kabra says:

    Just happend upon this site, because I was reading how almonds are the “end all be all” for you. Puhleese. If I read one more article about almonds… I think it’s a conspiracy. It was explained to me that it was the protein/amino acids in certain foods, i.e. nuts that trigger migraines. Have you seen the list of amino acids??? It’s really hard to avoid. If one is trying to build muscle… protein is essential. This makes for a very frustrating diet. However, everyone is created differently so everyone is affected differently. I know some mirgainers that can eat chocolate!!!!! wahhhhhh of all the things I miss, it’s the peanut butter. I do cheat sometimes I can get away with it and sometimes I pay. What does work for me… exercise, hydration and vitamins and of course sticking to the migraine diet as much as possible. Happy New YEar to you all and all the best for less headaches this year!

  15. Anji says:

    I have been a sufferer of headaches for a long time now, I was told they are not migraines but tension headaches. I never really thought about food triggers for them. I started drinking almond milk over the last 6 months because I love to eat a bowl of cereal and I cannot drink cows milk. Well the headaches became more frequent. I stopped drinking it for 3 weeks and noticed alot less headaches. So I wanted to put it to the test and had just a couple of almonds and guess what… Raging headache… Who woulda though…

  16. dmoore says:

    I,too, have had migraines for at least 30 years. I am finding that some of these headaches are from a recently diagnosed condition called glaucoma. Never had a clue until my sister, who has had glaucoma for years, told me that the ones that come on during the night and start around my eye and eyebrow area are probably glaucoma. She was right. Now, I am aware that peanuts and almonds cause those that start in the back of my head and migrate to the front. After testing this theory many times by trying to cheat, I realize that I must give these nuts up and use my glaucoma drops religiously. By doing these two things I have eliminated most of my migraines. Still, I believe there is another trigger. Will try to figure it out. I love coffee in the morning, strong, dark Folgers and I love chocolate, the dark bitter sweet kind. I will be crying alot if I have to give these joys up.

  17. Stewy says:

    Got a migraine last night after eating alot of almonds over the past two days. I have had them from eating cashews aswell which sucks cause I love them. After reading this I’m slowing down on the nuts, so much for being good for you!

  18. tanya says:

    peanuts and most other nuts are migraine triggers for myself and my husband as well as my oldest daughter. we have to be careful of what we eat and make sure its peanut free – id rather do with out then suffer with the headache.

  19. tanya says:

    RE: B vitamins and headaches – niacin will cause headaches as it is a vaso-dialator otherwise known as the niacin flush and is often found in B vitamin supplement combos – daily vitamins with large amounts of niacin can cause headaches in some people – i have finally found a daily vitamin that does not cause me headaches after years of searching “Mulitbionta”

  20. tlc says:

    Just a note for those who lump together nuts and peanuts–they are in different food groups. While both may be triggers, they are NOT the same. Peanuts are legumes; they grow in the ground. Tree nuts are (true) nuts.
    I don’t deny that both could be triggers for migraines, but it really is important to distinguish the difference.

  21. sue says:

    tyramine is the cause of all my headaches. my doctor analyzed the food i ate which caused the headaches.
    tyramine is a protein in peanuts, and all fermented and aged foods,
    wine,aged cheeses, chocolate, also yogurt, yeast,
    sour cream, chocolate, and nuts have the protein. you can eat a little but if you pass your threshhold, its a splittiing headache and high blood pressure.

  22. Pam says:

    I ate a lot of dry roasted peanuts about 2 weeks ago. Within 10 minutes I got a migraine. Today it happened again, with a half of a pb and j sandwich. I was going to try almond butter, which I like too…but now I’m scared. Did anyone else try the sunflower butter?

  23. Peter Geraghty says:

    In my life I’ve eaten tons of trailmix, peanuts and almonds but never had a migraine until several months ago. Then I started, each week or two, being awakened in the middle of the night by a crushing headache which persisted for several hours. I noticed or imagined after a few months of this that while I had the headache I had a lingering taste of almonds in my mouth from the night before. I stayed away from almonds for a while, but they are irresistible and one evening I ate a handful. Sure enough, a huge headache followed so I stayed away from them for a few months until I decided that it didn’t make sense to think that almonds could cause headaches, and enjoyed a handful. Sure enough, a huge headache woke me up. No more almonds for me.

  24. Sufferer says:

    Re: seed butters
    I am almond and peanut sensitive and joyfully eat the Naturally Nutty seed butters. Sugar free too. Don’t let the name fool you, the company makes both nut and seed only butters.

  25. RE nuts says:

    I do not realy suffer anytype of headache problems and have had about 5 migraines in my life.
    I had one last night and when I do get them I get them bad enough I find myself dry reaching most the time.
    I was trying to put it together and why was it I got them.
    I looked up this site and looked at what I had eaten in the day. I dont eat breakfast most days but had cerial with yes nuts in it in the morning.
    Then because I was home for the day had some toast and peanut butter for lunch.
    I then looked in the fridge and my wife had got me some boiled peanuts so tucked into a few of them latter in the day. Buy 6pm I was seeing stars.
    No more nuts for me in large lots like that. I thought it might be beer as I had suffered a few times when drinking a beer but what do we have when we have a beer yes a hand full of nuts.

  26. HI, BEEN HAVING MORE MIGRAINES LATELY,WAS LOOKING TO SEE WHAT COULD BE TRIGGERING THEM,AND RAN ACROSS THIS SITE, I HAVE STATED EATING WALNUT TO GET MY OMEGA 3, WAS OUT OF THEM FOR TWO DAYS AND NO HEADACHE, SO GOING TO STOP THEM AND HOPE IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE, THANKS FOR ALL TH INFO HERE.

  27. JEANNIE says:

    I HAVE ACTUALLY SUFFERED FROM MIGRAINES LONGER THAN I REALIZED. BUT WAS RECENTLY INTRODUCED TO THE GAPS DIET. WHAT I LEARNED IS THAT A LOT OF MIGRAINE SUFFERED HAVE A VERY COMMON AILMENT CALLED LEAKY GUT SYNDROME IN WHICH TYPICALLY GOES UNDIAGNOSED. THIS CONDITION CAUSES TOXINS TO BE RELEASED INTO YOUR BLOODSTREAM THROUGH YOUR STOMACH LINING. SO WHILE OTHER PEOPLE WITH A HEALTHY GUT DUMP TOXINS NORMALLY, WE ACTUALLY GET POISONED BY THEM. SO ONE THING I HAVE LEARNED ABOUT NUTS PEANUTS OR WALNUTS. THEY ALL NEED TO BE PROPERLY PREPARED. SOAKED IN ORDER TO BE BETTER DIGESTED, THESE FOODS ARE VERY HARD TO DIGEST. IF YOU DON’T THAT FOOD SITS IN YOUR STOMACH WHILE THE MICROSCOPIC FLORA BEGINS FEASTING AND MULTIPLYING OFF OF IT, RELEASING TOXINS INTO YOUR BLOODSTREAM. MY FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE WITH THIS WAS INTERESTING. I HAD A HORRIBLE MIGRAINE AFTER EATING IMPROPERLY PREPARED NUTS AND THREW EVERYTHING UP WHOLE AND UNDIGESTED AND RIGHT AWAY BEGAN FEELING RELIEVE. SO GAPS IS A DIET THAT HEALS AND SEALS THE GUT THROUGH PROPER NUTRITIOUN. I PLAN ON CURING MY MIGRAINES, NOT TREATING THEM! GOD BLESS!

  28. Nicole says:

    I an so thankful to have come across this. I have recently been suffering from headaches and could not figure out why. And now to realize I have too been eating a lot of almonds recently.. Now I know to watch myself when eating them and only have 3 instead of 13.. :) one happy camper

  29. pam says:

    I was feeling fine until l decided to have an almond butter and jelly sandwich as l just bought the almond butter today.l couldn’t understand why l suddenly had a headache then l thought maybe the almond butter is a trigger and l came to look it up and l see many people have the same experience.Now l think l remember why l stopped eating it a few months ago.oh well …

  30. Tim says:

    that’s interesting about the diet and the poison Jeannie. I got my first migraine in over a year last night. as usual, it came on slowly over the course of the day. first i was really tired for a few hours, then it creeps up and takes over until by the time i lay down to sleep there is no way because of the crushing pain. i think it started with the peanuts i ate. they are cheap too so maybe it has something to do with how they are prepared or processed. i am going to stay away from peanuts altogether and see what happens. i feel like my heads swells inside, like the tissue, (maybe sinuses) and i can’t breath as well and so less oxygen to the brain is making me tired. then it turns to pain.

  31. Jacqui says:

    Have figured out over the last couple of years that I get migraines for two reasons: pre-menstrual and 24 hours after eating any kind of nut. The nut ones can be mild or severe and are always responsive to ibuprofen (lucky me) but will return within 24 hours for following 3 – 4 days. Always associated with the pain is dehydration and nausea, helped alot by rehydration salts – or coke if I need a convenient alternative. No such problems with cheese, bananas or chocolate so doesn’t seem to be a tyramine trigger. I’ve tried the occasional tiny bit of almond just to check and yep – 3-4 days of low-grade migraine follows. I reckon my reaction has definitely got worse since generally cutting nuts from my diet – used to be able to get away with an almond flavoured biscuit, but not any more. Weird how such reactions work – the less you have of a trigger, the more of a trigger it seems to become. But hey, the headaches caused by a handful of nuts are severe and long-lasting and in the end, I can do without nuts!

  32. Dana says:

    I have had migraines since I was a kid but only got diagnosed around age 40. Recently I started to eat almonds every day and have no problems with the nuts, and much less problem with migraines. Almonds are supposed to be a good source of B vitamins and magnesium which may help to reduce the frequency, duration, or severity of migraines (depends on who you ask). Obviously this won’t help if you’re one of the people who are sensitive to almonds, just pointing out the almonds don’t cause migraines for everyone who gets migraines. Same with caffeine, I’m more likely to get a migraine if I skip coffee (I assume it starts out as a withdrawal headache; can progress to migraine if I do nothing, or is aborted if I have coffee).

  33. JL says:

    I’ve been suffering from severe migraines for years and have to get Botox as a treatment for them every 3 months otherwise I end up in the ER from the pain. Giving up almonds made a bit of a difference at first, but I’ve been eating the Sunbutter mentioned and unfortunately that triggers my migraines too :( Anyone else have a similar reaction? Maybe it’s because the sunflower seeds are roasted? I also react to nitrates, MSG, coffee (even the smell of it will trigger a migraine), fragrance, carageenan, etc!

  34. Elaine says:

    Wow, I’ve suffered from migraines for 30 years, been to several doctors, taken a slew of tests, all to no avail. I was sitting on the couch today, after taking yet another day off work because of my debilitating migraines, mulling over yet again what the culprit could be. I suddenly realized that the one thing I love might be the problem. Peanuts. So I muster enough energy to get to the computer and I was shocked by all the people sensitive to nuts, so starting today, I will no longer eat nuts of any kind, at least for a few months to see what happens. But the thing that bothers me is that most of my debilitating migraines occur Saturday morning or sometime on the weekend. That’s why I’ve always thought my migraines were due to the let down from a stressful week at work, but what can one do when one has to make a living and their job is stressful. Anyway, thanks for sharing. I will get back on later to let you know if I notice the difference not eating nuts.

    • Elaine, I hope you’ve found your trigger! Some people can reduce their migraines by simply eliminating a food (or a group of foods), while others have to dig a little deeper. Peanuts can be a trigger because of salicylates, or, possibly, oxalates; nuts can be problematic for these food chemicals as well as tannins. Still other people with migraine have no food triggers at all. My point? It can be complicated to sort out food triggers.

      Let-down migraines are a common phenomenon that’s unrelated to food triggers. They could occur from the release of stress or from any changes to your routine — sleeping more or less than usual, going to bed or waking up at a different time than usual, drinking less or more caffeine, eating erratically, eating larger meals than during the week. Maybe tweaking your weekend routine to be just like your weekday routine could reduce your migraines.

      Best of luck sorting this out. Please do keep us posted on what works for you.

      Take care,
      Kerrie

  35. Mitch says:

    I get headaches from dry roasted peanuts and almonds. If they’re fried in oil, like cocktail peanuts, I’m fine.

  36. cathi says:

    I am just starting to make a serious attempt to figure out my food migraine triggers after suffering for 11 years (began at the onset of menopause). After only a few weeks of careful monitoring, it appears that nuts are high on the suspect list. However, I am wondering about the significance of the fact that I ALWAYS get my migraines beginning around 3AM. Anyone have anything to share about that phenomenon?

  37. suzanna says:

    My husband often gets his migraines at the same time – 4AM, lately. Some months ago, it was 2AM. His migraines turned chronic about 13 months ago. Previously had been a few to several every month. Now they are nearly every day. At first the nightly migraines woke him up out of a nightmare at the same time every night. Neurologist said they were hypnic or “alarm clock” headaches, but the characteristics have changed since then.

  38. Laurie Bohmann says:

    40 =+ years of migraines nad have just recently found that nuts are a problem for me. I have been having the headaches start in the wee of the morning for several years. I found a link to barametric pressure. The days I am woken up from the pain, I check the weather. The pressure has always dropped in the middle of the night. Frustrating because I have no control over these headaches. I am at the mercy of the weather.

  39. Mindy says:

    I have been a migraineur for over 15 years. I have tried everything, even Botox and accupuncture, and nothing worked. My migraines occurred daily. A headache specialist told me I was suffering from rebound headaches as a result of taking zomig (migraine killer) at the onset of every headache. I stopped the zomig and my migraines came less frequently. Recently I was advised to see if i could possibly be gluten sensitive, as gluten has been known to trigger migraines. I stopped taking breads, pasta, flour products, anything with gluten, and YES! My migraines disappeared. However, I am still sensitive to a lot of food triggers, like alcohol, all kinds of nuts, processed foods, bananas, aged cheeses. I am very careful with what I eat. Lack of sleep, colognes, bright lights, also trigger in me a headache. You have to be one step ahead of the migraine game…all the time. You have to control it, not the other way around.

  40. Santi says:

    Cathy – I am the same with 3am migraines; had this thing pretty much beat during adulthood, but at 55 or so, the migraines increased 10x or more. Sensitive to processed foods, nuts, not a big meat eater, don’t drink or smoke, and limit coffee to 2 cups /day, sometimes tea instead. Processed foods of every kind are guarantee of headache for me. Excedrine or Bayer’s migraine formula work as long as I get it soon enough (kept by the bedside with water, but rarely used). RX “Maxalt” helped for a while, but it also has to be taken early, and I don’t want to escalate it by taking too much. I can go a week or two between headaches if I watch what I ingest, smell, etc. Aside from migraines I am good.

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