A Real Headache: Is There a Relationship between MSG and Migraine?

A diagnosis of “migraine” is often frustrating for the patient because there are probably as many causes of migraine as there are migraine sufferers. Add to that the fact that migraines rarely result from a single factor and you have a difficult malady to manage. For instance, a female migraine patient may be able to predict that she will be more likely to have a migraine during menses or at ovulation, but she may not have her usual migraine in a given month, or she may have a migraine outside of the usual time. Sometimes female migraine sufferers find relief with pregnancy and lactation; sometimes they don’t; sometimes the migraines get worse. Some migraines can be allergy related, be it a food allergy or an airborne allergy. Some migraines can be related to sleep deprivation, hunger, poor posture, or poor eyesight. For some people, migraine medicines that contain caffeine or caffeine-like substances bring relief, but in reality a life style change that involves eliminating caffeine may be what the migraine sufferer really needs to stop the headaches.

Migraines are not simple problems with simple solutions. Add to that the volume of information, single studies, and individual case reports that seem to contradict one another, and trying to figure out how to treat migraine is enough to give a person a headache.

One of the food additives that has been in and out of the spotlight in the migraine debate is monosodium glutamate (MSG). MSG is the sodium salt of the amino acid, glutamate. Continue reading