Chocolate Cures Migraines

Chocolate Cures Migraines

I am loathe to add to the mass medical-chocolate hysteria because, even though I have been telling people all my life that chocolate is good for you, it somehow annoys me to see people carrying around “Beauty Bars” of mediocre-quality dark chocolate and acting all self-righteous about it.

BUT I feel that if you have read or are about to read Blame It on Paris, you deserve to know that chocolate cures migraines. Or cluster headaches, as my mom informs me mine are really called. [If you have not read Blame It on Paris, you do NOT deserve to know it, so kindly stop reading here.]
It DOES cure them. I was beset by these vomitous headaches the first two days of the Thanksgiving holidays. I could eat almost NOTHING at Thanksgiving dinner. Even after a night of sleep and aspirin, Friday morning I still had one, it had just switched from one side of my head to the other. I took two Advil and, in the most unusual bit of serendipity, Mia actually decided that she was, in fact, sleepy, and she fell asleep on me while I was in a comfortable spot and could kind of doze with her. This combination helped. But still, when we woke up, the nauseating headache was still there. The edge was off, but I could tell it was waiting to re-attack. So I went into the kitchen for a glass of water and passed the HALF-FOOT stack of chocolate bars my father bought in preparation for my arrival.

He always buys ten or twelve of any of the European brands of dark chocolate he can find in preparation for my arrival. And he always keeps them in his study for safekeeping until I get there, EVEN THOUGH my mother does not eat chocolate and so it’s very odd he should have to keep chocolate in his study RIGHT next to his mousepad to save it from her.

Anyway, as I was walking by this enormous stack of dark chocolate, I had a sudden instinct. I said to myself, “I need to eat some dark chocolate.”

So I sat down with a bar of Lindt Intense Orange. My mother, who knows everything unless it involves any kind of post-1950 technology, had been trying to get me to take magnesium for my headache and looked intrigued. “You know, chocolate is a very rich natural source of magnesium.”

“Really,” I said. “And you know what’s interesting? I just noticed that Lindt says its serving size is nearly half a bar. And here all this time I thought a serving size was one square. Maybe I should eat a whole serving.”

In the end I ate two whole servings, or almost the whole bar, because I could actually feel it happening: the headache fading with every bite I ate. It was a miracle.

The next day, the headache came back while I was helping David and Annette grout slate for the porch on their gorgeous house, and I was very concerned as I didn’t want to abandon them mid-task. Fortunately, I happened to know that my brother Stefan had hidden a whole bag of dark chocolate M & Ms in his truck and that this bag had serendipitously found its way into the bottom of Mia’s diaper bag for safekeeping, safekeeping perhaps somewhat similar to my father’s study safekeeping. M&M’s “dark” chocolate isn’t really all that dark, so I ate almost the whole bag, except for the handful I allowed Stefan to have, an act for which he was properly grateful.

And again: magic. I have found the miracle cure. Dark chocolate, combined with a couple of Advil, cures these cursed headaches that can go on for days otherwise. I know some people are sarcastically saying that it’s probably the Advil, but I promise you, Advil alone will not do it. If you don’t believe me, fine. But I am sharing this information with the less cynical among you because if you have these headaches, it could save your holidays. It all goes to show what I have always said: NEVER travel without a bar of dark chocolate in your purse.

32 Comments
  • dee

    Laura,
    You are just so helpful! What a great post, with medical advice and all.
    It’s been fun seeing you over on Joss’s blog lately. And now that I’ve found yours, I’m sure I’ll be here too.
    Your book sounds lovely, and if it’s not in my Christmas stocking (yes, I actually did ask for it, I had a huge list of books though, so, we’ll see), then I”m heading out to buy it after the 26th. And then, I’ll review it on my book review blog, if you don’t mind. I love reading, and started a blog about the books I read. It’s been a blast!
    Anyhow, just wanted to pop in and say hi.
    dee

    December 21, 2006 at 9:07 am
  • Anna

    You told me you didn’t like Lindt Intense Orange.
    I got a bag of M&Ms for your visit over the holidays. I would have gotten you a bag of Ghiarardelli dark chocolate chips, but they don’t come in 25 pound bags.
    Anyway, I have a stack of Intense Orange because I thought it would be nice to actually get to eat some of my own chocolate even though you have descended upon the land. You mean I have to hide that, too? And where am I supposed to hide it? I hide Christmas presents in the guestroom closet, but somehow it occurs to me that might not work for the chocolate stash. I mean, it would be a shame if Mia found it and ate it all and got sick, which is what I’m sure would happen. That is, the chocolate would be all gone, and you could probably smear some on Mia’s face for verisimilitude.

    December 22, 2006 at 7:11 am
  • I submit myself as a human test subject to these chocolate experiments for people like you, Dee! So you don’t have to suffer in vain. I am BRAVE that way.

    And how bad is the chocolate paranoia of my family that they start having DREAMS in which I claim I don’t like something like Lindt Intense Orange, such vivid dreams that they then go and stock up on that kind of chocolate because they think I don’t like it?

    December 22, 2006 at 9:12 am
  • Susie

    I have to agree. Chocolate does cure migraines. I’ve done it twice. And so does coffee. And I just read that chocolate has the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. So maybe that’s why.

    February 17, 2007 at 6:02 pm
  • Wake Forest Becky

    Dear Laura,

    You may be delighted to know that just down the road from you live Joe and Terry Graedon, who are authors, have a syndicated column and NPR radio program, The People”s Pharmacy, which originates from WUNC. They are delightful and Terry has written a book, “Chocolate Without Guilt” which discusses the therapeutic effects of chocolate. In fact, one time Terry told me that one of the best ways to ward off blood clots during long airplane flights is to eat M&Ms because they contain the kind of chocolate that is chemically the best for you. That has been all the incentive I’ve needed–is a flight of 15 minutes considered long? IN any event, this book is justification for all you believe about chocolate and for all you apparently consume. Hoping to keep up, Becky

    September 8, 2007 at 6:39 pm
  • Cheryl

    I found this blurb only after I stumbled onto Dark Chocolate as a migraine cure quite by accident. I did a search to confirm my own discovery and landed on this page. YESSSSS!!!!!!!! Score another one for chocolate!! Woohoo!

    September 21, 2007 at 11:02 pm
  • Douglas Nadel, MD

    It’s no secret that caffeine can lead to migraines, but caffeine also aborts an acute migraine attack. In all likelihood it’s the caffeine withdrawal that triggers the migraine.
    I believe the same effect takes place with chocolate: it’s the chocolate withdrawal that triggers the migraine. Some people even have a chocolate craving as the manifestation of their aura.
    There are three ways you can treat this problem: complete avoidance of chocolate, consuming a small amount of chocolate daily to try to prevent migraines, or try eating chocolate when you get an aura or migraine.
    I suspect that there are ingredients in dark chocolate that will make it more effective than milk or other chocolates, and I’d be very interested in anyone’s experience with different kinds of chocolate.

    December 4, 2007 at 1:28 pm
  • C Lucas

    Coffee is a must for my migraines; I crave coffee and salt; I have enough pure dark chocolate (83% and 70%) to last me for 3 dozen headaches.
    The more pure the chocolate the quicker the symptoms subside. I’ve even put Hersheys chocolate in my coffee to help block the pain.
    Now as far as the salt, that’s just a craving during or after a migraine.

    January 30, 2008 at 3:49 pm
  • Richard Piatek

    Having just eaten some giardellis dark chocolates chips for the second day in a row and got rid of my sinus headache, i did a search which lead me to this site. Everywhere I’ve read they say to avoid chocolate. Chocolate works for me. Quickly too!!!

    February 13, 2008 at 10:35 pm
  • Kristen

    The other day I felt a serious headache coming on. I also felt unexpainably sad. While this may sound like PMS, it actually occured after the start of my period. I am a coffee drinker, as I work at Starbucks, and had already consumed the usual amount of coffee that morning. My husband asked what was wrong and if there was anything he could do. I told him, “You know, I can’t explain it, but I’d really like some dark chocolate- I think it would help.” Well, it was late at night and he as in his pajamas, so he laughed at me, ignored my request, assuming it was just a sill y unnecessary craving, and fell sleep on the couch. The next day and into the evening, a dull headache remained, till I finally went to Whole Foods and bought a Seeds of Change organic dk choc bar, with cranberries, candied pecans, and orange essence. I immediately felt better. I’m now gathering all info I can on dark choc and composing a report for my DH to read! So there!

    February 26, 2008 at 1:21 pm
  • naomi

    i did a search today about chocolate and headaches and than i did a search on DARK chocolate and headaches, to my supprise- its the dark chocloate that helps with headaches becouse of the caffine and such. Take a look at Excederin Migrane ingredients, tylenal,asprin and caffine! Im guessing the same must be true about cocoa beans as in other beans. You heard this b4, the darker the bean the better for you…?Im sure all true chocolate lovers have made the switch long ago when it was dicovered that dark choc is actually better for us. But the artical in todays paper lead me to this page as i currently suffering from morning headaches that are really affecting my life -from my sleeping habits-eating habits-and my morning routines have been delayed becouse of them. And a chocolate cure is right up my alley!!!!

    March 17, 2008 at 1:35 pm
  • Deanna

    Just letting you know that I know you are right! This is how and why:
    This morning I woke up with a headache. I usually get headaches once or twice a month, a day or two before my period… and they are not mild headaches. This headache did not go away with morning coffee, in fact it worsened. So, after a while I succumbed to 2 Ibuprofen / Advil (400 mg). I usually respond well to the medication, but today the headache didn’t improve with it. So I thought, ‘What do I have in the house?’. I nearly instinctively grabbed some Nestles Semi-Sweet chocolate chips and put them in a bowl and set them next to me to snack on. Almost instantly, with the first couple of tiny handfuls, the headache diminished and has been gone since. Just because they taste yummy, I periodically tossed a few in my mouth throughout the day. The headache is gone now. And you are right! It was the Advil /dark Chocolate combo (Semi-Sweet is more or less dark chocolate). So there you have it… CONFIRMED!!! And to let you know, I was so impressed by the chocolate remedy that I searched Google to find out if anyone else has had this same success, if chocolate is known to cure migraines and I found your story. So A discovery is made!

    May 20, 2008 at 5:08 pm
  • Deanna

    PS: And also, I remember that I also felt very sad when I woke up… The sadness and the headache were co-symptoms. The sadness went away with fun music, the headache went away with the chocolate /Advil. But, my consensus is the ultimate cure factor isn’t the caffeine. I believe the elevated magnesium is probably the main ingredient in chocolate that helps the headache. But, I’m sure there is more to it.

    May 20, 2008 at 5:16 pm
  • Zoe

    Yes…I am so happy to have made this discovery…I too think it’s the magnesium…..her is why…..after a ton of rearch on home remidies. And different experiments, and being pregnant and all I didn’t want to take any kind of medication that might hurt the baby so I looked for natural ways to help my migranes.
    My dad told me about his friend who gets migranes who takes one teaspoon of epson salt in his favorite jucie. So, I tried it. I thought it would tast like salt but it’s accually very bitter….and it gave me runs but it got rid of my head aches. I looked at the ingrediance and there was magnesium. Then I went on the computer and looking up what foods have magnesium in it and was’nt to excited about leafy greens and whole grains, meat and dairy……Then……I stumbled acrossed dark chocolate and magnesium web site….and then I found this blog. I quicky went to the store and got me some Intense Dark premium Assortment Ghiradelli Chololate….Now I am a total fan!!!! We shall see how it works with my migranes. I get migrane that knock me out for the rest of the day….all I can do is sleep, no noise and no sun. I miss out on alot of fun outings with my family because of them…but now I hope I can do a whole more with them.

    May 24, 2008 at 4:30 pm
  • Until yesterday I had a headache for 4 months. My GP gave me some pills and they did nothing.

    Next he sent me to another DR. more pills no relief at all. You are going to think I’m crazy but just last nite I called my daughter (she lives about 100 feet away) and asked her if she had any chocolate. She was there in about 5 min. I did not call her to give me something for the damn headache, somehow I just wanted a piece. to make a long story short to my great supprise the headache was gone for the first time in 4 months and it only took about 5 min.. P.S I usually never
    crave or buy any. But I will from now on I will have some around. Clarence

    July 22, 2008 at 7:18 pm
  • happened upon

    consider yourself lucky!!! I even smell chocolate and I get very intense migraines that last for days (usually around 3). From what I have researched, more people encounter migraines from chocolate that receive relief. Coffee helps and about 6 excedrin migraine if taken before severe onset. If it is not caught in advance, then you just suffer through.

    June 14, 2009 at 7:50 pm
  • may

    I haven’t had chocolate in years. I’m actually afraid of it since finding it is one of the triggers of my migraines. A life without chocolate? It is so nice to see that chocolate is helping so many people, and taking away pain. Has anyone found they are as ‘triggered’ by chocolate as I am? Has anyone found that a bit a chocolate each day helps to ward migraines away? Has anyone been brave enough to try having a bit of chocolate each day, as I am scared of the ramifications–excruciating migraines!!! Please reply.

    August 14, 2009 at 1:14 pm
  • della

    I completely agree with you. I am in the group of migraine sufferers that get the prodrome (or aura) right before my headache. I eat chocolate and lie down right then and there and it gets rid of the aura (at least) and makes my headache a little less painful. Actually, currently, I have a migraine headache happening and I just ate a 3 Musketeers bar. It didn’t completely get rid of the aura but I do feel a bit better and the aura is not as bad.

    I was so happy to see that I wasn’t just making up a cure for my headaches…someone else actually has relief from them as well with chocolate.

    September 18, 2009 at 9:42 am
  • Bob

    My son had suffered from chronic migraines for 25 years. He had 2 to 3 per week and they each lasted for 1 or 2 days. He was unable to keep a job. A friend of his suggested he try a new, unprocessed, sugar free dark chocolate that he had. This new chocolate contained cocoa beans ground to a powder and mixed with a stevia type natural sweetener and then cold pressed to form a wafer. It contains more dark chocolate than anything you can buy on a grocery shelf. My son has now been migraine free for 2 months.

    My research shows that milk in milk chocolate offsets the good that dark chocolate provides. Milk contains a large amount of casein protein which deactivates some of the benefits of dark chocolate. Generally, science has found that dark chocolate is higher in flavonoids than milk chocolate. The way that cocoa powder and chocolate syrups are manufactured removes most flavonoids.

    If you want a source for the “unprocessed dark chocolate”, my email address is boboamtho@gmail.com. The good news is that it is no more expensive that the Ghirardelli dark chocolate candy that you buy in the grocery stores. The new chocolate is 90% chocolate as compared to 60% to 80% found in grocery stores.

    My wife and I thank God each day that our son stumbled onto dark chocolate for his migraines. He was taking so much Imitrex each day that his neurologist told him it was life threatening for him to continue to take so much.

    He now has a full time job and is joyfully feeling great.

    September 24, 2009 at 3:57 pm
  • Vicky

    I’m glad I’m not the only one! After over 10 years of suffering migraine headaches, I discovered this year that chocolate cures them. For me it is milk choc – dark seems to make it worse for some reason.

    Paracetemol, codeine, ibroprofen (3 x nurofen plus and 2/3 x panadol), a whole bar of dairy milk cadburys choc and an hours sleep does it every time. Last night I found myself feeling a bit pre-migrainey and I was craving chocolate covered almonds. Ate the box and disaster averted!!

    October 5, 2009 at 5:13 pm
  • Hello, interesting post. I also agree that chocolates can help in preventing migraine attacks this is because of the caffeine content it has same with coffee. But I think this is not applicable to all migraine sufferers since it all depends on how how body react on it – if its a cure or a problem. Maybe this is just it, if you find eating chocolate as a cure for your migraines then eat it, if it doesn’t help in anyway then don’t.

    October 6, 2009 at 2:34 am
  • Dan Demski

    I’ve suffered from migraines for a while, and I never thought chocolate would be the answer! I just tried eating chocolate syrup, to cure one of my most worst migraines, and it went away in ten minutes! It’s amazing! It works for me you should try it!

    March 25, 2010 at 4:09 pm
  • majoe

    Hi. I was researching over the net to look for people who beieves that dark chocos can cure migraine or headaches. Thanks to this page that i found people like you. I combine Dark Chocolate with Pepsi Max (zero sugar). IM not sure how’s it for a remedy combination but really, it helps me. In few minutes, migraine is but all gone. You can try it if it works for you, too.

    May 5, 2010 at 3:21 pm
  • laila

    Got the worst migraine ever yesterday which continued today but I just ate some dark choc cake and voila withing five mins my migraine is quickly fading away! and then I was tempted to search the benefits of dark choc on google and stumbled upon this which confirms my now undying belief that dark choc is a big helping hand in tackling the pain in the neck that we all know as migraines!

    May 18, 2010 at 9:22 am
  • Claire

    I just googled “chocolate cure headache?” because I couldn’t believe the positive effect it was having, and came across your site. I’ve had a headache for 2 days and often get migraines, I think this is probably a tension headache though. I too had been taking ibuprofen with no effect except queasyness. I wonder if there’s an interaction between the two, or if it’s just the caffeine. Either way if you’re desperate for a quick fix it works, no matter what the long-term effects might be. We don’t usually have chocolate in the house but my partner brought some 70% cocoa stuff home last night and I’ve nearly eaten it all for my headache — I’d best buy him some more!

    June 9, 2010 at 8:48 am
  • Me too!!!
    I had a migraine for 15 days, spent the whole time in bed, went to the doctors, sent me to a Neuro Surgeon, had a very expensive brain scan! took loads of tablets and nothing worked.
    Had two milk chocolate bars and it went…… so now eat one everyday to prevent them coming on. Great! and alot cheaper! although not so when I’m trying to diet!

    July 16, 2010 at 8:12 am
  • Deborah Wilcox

    I read some research in the 80’s while at USF; about M & M’s curing Migraine Headaches, people poo poo the idea until they have a headache and take a handful; and within minutes, have some relief. If anyone fines the research I’d like to have it again. Thanks Deborah Wilcox

    September 11, 2010 at 3:53 pm
  • MelleG

    I am borderline diabetic and want to avoid full-blown diabetes as long as possible. Does anyone know if what I heard is true…that dark chocolate does not raise blood sugar ? I know milk chocolate has more sugar and does… and I also suffer from migraines and tension headaches…still trying to figure out if dark chocolate makes them worse. It really is difficult to tell the cause ! I am trying to switch to dark, but it is not easy…Dove dark with almonds I can manage and Lindt Excellence with A Touch of Sea Salt …takes some of the bitterness out. Is there any good semi-sweet out there besides chocolate chips ? I may get a bag of Ghiradelli semi-sweet chips and add them to my trail mix for my chocolate fix…

    September 17, 2010 at 11:55 pm
  • MelleG, I’m sorry not to have seen your question before this. The better the quality of chocolate, the more accessible I think you’ll find the dark chocolate, and the less “bitter” to you. But that gets increasingly gourmet! I like Valrhona’s Equatorial couverture blend, for straight dark “semi-sweet” couverture, or some of their 71% blends for higher cacao content. But it’s not cheap at all! For the medical facts, I don’t know. This blog is just for humor, definitely not to be trusted as a medical source. But I do wish you the very best of luck trying to figure out a way to enjoy chocolate still. I know that must be very hard to have to restrict!

    November 16, 2010 at 5:16 pm
  • ping

    My wife’s been having migraine for years. She tried several pain killers without much effect until her doctor prescribed Frova for her a couple of years ago. Frova seems do the magic for her. Now she always carries tablets of Frova with her when she goes out. One negative is that Frova is very very expensive. It costs us about $3 a tablet AFTER the portion covered by insurance company.

    December 9, 2010 at 11:43 am
  • I have been eating Cadbury’s Milk Chocolate lately and have found to my amazement that it helps prevent migraines generally and I think it may abort one threatening. But not sure yet as have not tested it enough. For me it is not the caffeine as caffeine in other forms makes no difference. Since I started having some chocolate every day I generally feel livelier. I do not know what it is, magnesium maybe, except magnesium tablets have not made a difference. Whatever it is, I am happy, what a nice way to avoid such torture.
    I have a prescription drug called Imigran which works wonderfully. It affects the serotonin levels, so does chocolate I wonder if there is any connection?

    January 23, 2011 at 11:38 am