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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Banana-induced headache, anyone?

Nobody believes me when I say that having more than one banana at a time -- really more than one over the course of a day -- gives me an instant, pounding headache.  Well, some people believe me -- I have a reputation for great honesty and integrity -- but nobody has any answers as to why.  Nobody else gets them.  And until recently, this particular medical problem was completely ungoogleable, which, for all practical purposes, meant it did not exist.

In truth, I haven't googled it for several years -- I just avoid eating more than one banana a day.  But I googled it just now, and I finally found some validation.  There is no scientific research on this issue, but several websites -- including now this one -- report that tyramine (something that shows up in bananas, nuts, citrus fruit, and aged cheese) might be a migraine trigger.  I have never had a migraine in my life, as far as I know.  But at least now I have something to blame my headaches on.  One article suggests that the tyramine concentration is greatest in the peel, so (if you have the same problem that I do), it might help to scrape the banana before eating it, or before putting it in your smoothie.

Here, here, and here are some links that mention the problem.

I should note that the main reason that there is no firmly established link between foods like bananas and headaches is because (supposedly) the headaches only come on many hours after ingestion of the trigger.  For that reason, it's very hard to test or confirm any particular trigger, because headaches might be caused by other triggers.  With me, however, the headache is almost immediate.

I also note that I have not made any similar connections to any other kinds of food.  I eat oranges and grapefruits with no problem, although, come to think of it, rarely more than one a day.  I occasionally eat nuts, but never noticed a problem.  I hardly ever eat aged cheese.

I will be the first to admit that I don't think this is a problem for the general population.  I'm the only person I know who has experienced it, even though my life in general is very headache-free.  I don't know if something like this qualifies as an allergy, but I'm going to say the words banana allergy right here just in case that's what people are googling for.

If you have experienced banana-induced headache symptoms similar to mine -- i.e. a very quick onset of a pounding headache within seconds of having eaten one banana too many -- let me know!

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