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Chocolate: friend or foe? By Dr Nazeli Manukyan

18 April 2019

It’s Easter!  the time for chocolate Easter eggs.. but are you afraid that might trigger a migraine?


A link between cocoa products and migraine headaches will be familiar to many migraine sufferers. It has also been the subject of scientific investigation as far back as 1974.

There must be worse ways to contribute to medical research than being asked to eat chocolate!

This is exactly what has been asked of migraine-sensitive volunteers by several similar studies which have tried to explore the possibility that chocolate may trigger migraines.

Volunteers were given chocolate or an identical chocolate substitute to eat and asked to report on the pattern of their headaches and migraines. The results of these studies seem to show that chocolate is no more likely than a chocolate substitute to trigger migraines or headaches.


What should we make of these findings? Should chocolate not be considered a migraine trigger?

It is important to recognise that craving for sugary foods can be an early symptom of migraine.  The technical term is a “prodromal symptom”; a symptom which can occur hours to days before the onset of migraine headache.

A migraineur might respond to such a craving by eating chocolate only for the migraine to follow. This does not mean that the chocolate triggered the migraine. It’s rather that eating chocolate was a a mere response to a symptom of migraine which was already starting.

For most migraine sufferers, migraines are not triggered by a single trigger factor. There can be several factors which occur close together in time. This might mean that a chocolate bar as a pick-me-up the morning after a night on the town (other triggers: a late night, drinking alcohol) could lead to a migraine developing whereas an Easter egg in the absence of any other triggers could be fine.

For some of you reading this, chocolate may be an obvious trigger for your migraines and I certainly wouldn’t advise you to change the dietary habits which work to control your migraines on the basis of this scientific research. For others, you may feel that it gives you the confidence to give yourself a bit of a treat!

Happy Easter!


To know more about the food and migraine Read Here.