Dairy and Migraines – Is There a Connection?


Migraines can be triggered by specific foods – fact. Recently, there has been mounting research naming dairy as a main culprit in migraine attacks. If you are someone who suffers from migraines and are unsure what to do about it, one of the first places you should start is by keeping a headache diary. By tracking your migraines, it may help you identify the foods triggering these episodes. Beyond specific foods causing a migraine, dietary habits such as skipping meals, dehydration, and fasting may also contribute. 

Numerous studies, cite milk is one of the top triggers for many migraineurs. In these studies, patients who took milk out of their diet saw a decrease in the number of migraines they experienced, and a reported 70 percent became completely migraine-free. That’s my story. Milk was making my head scream and my future uncertain until I banished it from my diet.

Dairy as a Migraine Trigger

Many people – including those who do not suffer from migraines – have a difficult time breaking down the proteins found in dairy. At least once a week I hear a patient say something along the lines of, “When I was a baby, I was allergic to dairy, but I can eat it now.” The truth is, if you suffered symptoms from eating dairy as a baby or a child, you can’t eat it now. Dairy is a highly allergic food. It contains large quantities of glutamic acid and hormones, and its proteins are quite hard on the human stomach in general. In fact, milk and other dairy products account for  90 percent of all allergic reactions and are considered one of the most hazardous foods for migraineurs to consume.

Everyone is different, and not every migraineur needs to avoid all dairy products in order to prevent migraines. Grass-fed butter, clarified butter, and ghee all contain less milk protein and are much easier for the body to digest. If you have determined you suffer from a severe milk allergy however, I strongly suggest avoiding all dairy products. If you notice your migraine symptoms have subsided by cutting out dairy, awesome! This should be part of a long-term solution for you.

Why a Low-Tyramine Diet May Be the Answer

The tyramine and/or histamine found in many dairy products is often the source of the problem for migraineurs. This is why a low-tyramine diet may be the answer to relief. Tyramine is a naturally occurring compound found in cheese, milk, and many other foods. It is never added to foods, but tyramine levels can increase when foods are fermented or aged, so the levels are higher in aged cheeses such as bleu, brick, brie, Swiss, stilton, parmesan, provolone, and cheddar.

Track Your Experience

Food sensitivities – not, “oh my gosh, I am going into anaphylactic shock!” food allergies, but sensitivities are real. The research consistently illustrates a connection between food sensitivity and health.  If you want to improve your overall health, you must reduce or eliminate the foods causing insult on your body. If you think dairy may be causing the issues, I recommend starting with a complete dairy elimination diet and tracking your migraine symptoms moving forward. If you notice any positive changes, you may try reintroducing dairy products low in tyramine. Keep in mind, everyone is different, and taking all dairy products completely out of your diet may not be the best or only solution for you.

If you are someone who suffers from migraines and haven’t been able to put your finger on the why, I’d be happy to discuss the possible connections with you. I am available via phone or in person for consultations and am here to help you find relief – now.


Migraine Key – The 3-Day Migraine Diet: The Most Dangerous Foods

Migraine Key – Milk Products

National Headache Foundation – Low-Tyramine Diet for Migraine