Cluster headaches or histamine headaches are headaches that occur on one side of the head, and sometimes involve eye tearing as well as a stuffy nose. Cluster headaches occur in clusters, around the same time each day for several days or months, and then disappear as suddenly as they started. There is no known cause for histamine headaches, but there are certain foods you should eat as well as avoid to prevent their onset.
Foods High in Magnesium
If you suffer from cluster headaches, your magnesium levels may be too low; intravenous magnesium supplementation has been successfully used to treat cluster headaches. You need to incorporate more magnesium into your regular diet. Foods high in magnesium content include green vegetables, Brazil nuts, tofu, legumes, soybean flour, basil, poppy seed, marjoram, cumin seed, savory, fennel seed, dill weed, seaweed, shredded wheat, bran cereals, oatmeal, baked potatoes, bananas, spinach, beet greens, oat flour, whole wheat flour, peanuts, pine nuts, squash seeds, blackstrap molasses and pumpkin.
Integrating foods high in magnesium content can help in preventing the onset of cluster headaches, because it helps to smooth muscles and relax them. Adult males require 270 to 400 mg of magnesium every day. For females, the recommended daily allowance for magnesium is 280 to 300 mg a day. Pregnant women need 320 mg a day, and nursing women should get 335 to 340 mg daily.
Foods that contain nitrates might trigger cluster headaches. Nitrates are found in processed meats and smoked meats, and, sometimes, nitrates are added to specific medications like nitroglycerin. If you are taking nitroglycerin, you should talk to your doctor about changing your medication, but do not stop taking prescribed medication without being instructed to do so by a medical professional. Avoiding smoked and processed meats can help diminish cluster headache triggers as well.
Avoiding Alcohol and Tobacco Products
Alcohol consumption is not recommended for those that suffer from cluster headaches. Alcohol causes blood vessels to dilate, whereas nicotine causes blood vessels to constrict; both actions contribute to cluster headache onset. Cluster headaches can be triggered in as many as 50 percent of the individuals who consume alcohol and experience cluster headaches. Even just a half a glass of wine or a few sips of beer can be responsible for cluster headache onset, so it's best to simply avoid alcohol.
Avoiding Excessive Caffeinated Foods and Beverages
Excessive caffeine intake is linked to cluster headache onset. Caffeine constricts blood vessels and increases pressure in the head, which can later trigger a cluster headache. Avoiding coffee, tea and colas is recommended. You should also limit your intake of chocolate and other caffeinated foods to prevent cluster headaches, or to help diminish cluster headache symptoms.
- Managing Your Headaches; Mark W. Green, Leah M. Green, John F. Rothrock; 2004.
- Mayoclinic.com for information on cluster headaches and nitrates.
- Diagnose-Me.com on diet and cluster headaches.
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