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Cheese headache?

Until today's health segment on the DW news about headaches, I had never heard that a common (at least in Germany, I suppose) cause of headaches is eating certain cheeses. They mention it up with stress and weather changes as among the top causes.

Does this ring a bell with you?

I did a quick search and sure enough there's a culprit called tyramine that is found in, quote

"aged and fermented foods, such as:

Aged cheeses
Smoked fish
Cured meats
Some types of beer"

Golly, this sounds like the German menu, no?

Is this a German thing that DW is generalizing out to everyone, or are there other countries where people commonly think that a cheese is giving them a headache?

I'm posting this as part of my continuing hobbyhorse sore point about intercultural sensitivity and how we all assume our way is the yardstick (or meter stick) for measuring everything that we measure....

Posted by
8720 posts

I get migraines and have been told by doctors for 40+ yrs to avoid certain foods that can trigger a migraine, aged cheese is one of them. The list is long and includes the others you mention.

Posted by
11470 posts

I agree with Susan. Although thankfully I have only had migraines a couple of times in my life, cheese, chocolate and alcohol contain tyramines which are a known trigger for some (not all). I’ll agree with her timeline as well … This has been discussed in the medical community for at least 40 years, maybe more.

And what’s DW?

Posted by
2222 posts

DW is the shortened named for Deutsche Welle, the main news broadcast station in Germany -- I don't have a TV so I get my news mostly from France24 and DW over the internet.

Both of those have been growing their international audiences quickly, to compete with the BBC.

None of those depend on an advertising model, which of course makes for a very different perspective on the news than in the USA, where there really isn't any noncommercial sources of info (save PBS, which is only kinda)

Posted by
1757 posts

I have to avoid aged cheese and a long list of other foods as I have frequent migraines. Rapid and low barometric pressure and other weather are triggers for me as well.

Posted by
261 posts

Interesting. I have a mild anaphylactic reaction to very aged cheeses - itching lips, tongue and throat. I don't know that I have experienced a headache from it, but definitely believe it could happen.

Posted by
14056 posts

It is all about tyramine and the action of MAO’s (monoamine oxidase inhibitors). Looks like you found this WebMD article, which lists “aged cheese, smoked fish, cured meats, and some types of beer” as foods high in tyramine. They can cause headaches, specifically migraines, in sensitive people.

I have suffered from migraines since I was 12, but those particular foods and beverages to do seem to affect me at all. Other known or suspected triggers triggers are red wine, bright lights, and chocolate. I am susceptible to the red wine (specifically Cabernet Sauvignon) and bright lights, but not chocolate. 😏

To answer Avi’s question, it is not just a “German thing” (although I am 1/4 German).

Posted by
2222 posts

I was aware of MSG already and I also notice for myself that heavy red wines will result in more hangover symptoms the next day than other spirits. But I still want to tease out some more of the tangled / interdependent nature of physiology and culture by returning to the thought that the items listed in those online articles have suspicious overlap with germanic dietary habits, no?