Dietary Factors in Migraine Precipitation: The Physicians' View




Five hundred and fifty questionnaires were sent to members of the American Association for the Study of Headache as well as to British physicians with a known interest in migraine. Of the 327 that replied, only 21% favored the term “dietary migraine.” To determine the presence of food sensitivity in their patients 71% relied on information from the patient's history alone. However, 21% employed special tests in addition to the history.

Estimates of the percentage of patients in whom dietary factors were operative ranged from 0–80%. Seventy-four percent were in the 0–20% range (some indicating an incidence nearer 1–5% or less). Sixteen percent estimated the range of their patients in whom diet provoked migraine was between 20–40%, three percent estimated 40–60%, and two percent 60–80%.

The foods most commonly cited as triggering agents are presented in descending rate of frequency: chocolate, alcohol, cheese, monosodium glutamate, nuts, citrus fruit, meat, coffee, nitrates, fish, dairy products, onions, hot dogs, pizza, wheat products, bananas, tomatoes, apples, and various vegetables.

Individual comments invited on the questionnaire are described.

The consensus is that foods or alcohol can provoke occasional attacks in some patients. They conclude that the appropriate term is “dietary precipitated migraine.”