Certain foods from the nightshade family can contribute to your migraines. Popular Nightshades are:
- Sweet peppers
- Hot peppers
- Cayenne pepper
Over 2,800 species of plants that belong to this group1. As migraine sufferers, we need to pay careful attention to nightshades. You may have to avoid this group of vegetables altogether, as the nightshade contains neurotoxic alkaloids that can trigger a migraine.
To avoid or not avoid the nightshade
When in doubt, remove the nightshade
I always enjoyed a variety of different foods, especially the taste of eggplant and paprika. Cayenne pepper used to be my spice of choice when preparing a meal. Since they turned out to be significant migraine triggers, I was forced to completely remove all of these nightshades. My digestive system was highly sensitive to the vegetables. Keep a detailed food journal in order to understand whether nightshades should be partially or completely removed.
Does quantity matter when it comes to nightshades?
As migraine sufferers, we all have different thresholds that govern when a migraine will strike. In my case, even a small amount would cause an episode.
Does boiling help?
According to research, boiling can reduce the amount of the toxic alkaloids in half. But you will not be able to remove all of the toxic substances using the method. In my case, it has not worked and even a small amount of neurotoxic alkaloids can have a tremendous impact on those of us with migraines.
Nightshades can be high in biogenic amines like histamine and tyramine
Biogenic amines are difficult to deal with for most of us suffering from migraines. Few of us have heard of these before but they can often wreak havoc on our bodies. While both histamine and tyramine are present when food is purchased, the amounts build quickly over time as the food ages. This is the real problem, because a small quantity may not necessarily cause issues. However, the exponential increase in these organisms make it virtually impossible to eat almost anything that has aged without getting a migraine.
Be your own boss and listen less to experts
While cayenne pepper is widely touted for its healing properties, I found that it acted as a severe trigger. Since I was using the spice as seasoning in many different meals, it became difficult to isolate. Only through experimentation was I able to discover the offending trigger. It is also worth remembering that not all nightshades need to be removed from your diet and many of the nightshade vegetables are an excellent source of necessary vitamins. Do your own research by carefully removing and reintroducing a particular nightshade. Pay close attention to how you feel.
1. www.whfoods.com, “What are nightshades and in which foods are they found?”, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=62