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Food (not drinks) that help ease a headache?

Any ideas? Looking for actual food, not drinks (e.g. tea, water, etc.).


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  1. The only thing I can eat when I have a headache, migraine (TGI been a long time) or sinus headache, is a plate of cottage cheese and some canned peaches. Nothing else. Since you said "not drinks" I won't bore you with my tea ceremony method of headache prevention. Feel better.

    1. Here are a few results from http://www.foodsnherbs.com/search1.htm
      (enter headache as the search term


      Healing Effects :
      Cool and clean the blood; treat hypertension, constipation, headache and dizziness; relieve hangover; treat hot skin diseases.

      Sword Bean:
      Healing Effects : Warm the middle region; push energy downnward; relieve hiccup, cough, asthma, headache and pain.

      Healing Effects : Clear internal heat and dampness especially in liver and bladder; expel wind; prevent kidney disorder; relieve hypertension and headache; relieve heavy menstruation.

      2 Replies
      1. re: hannaone

        hannaone, if anything relieved "internal dampness" it would kill you. My insides are definitely supposed to be wet.

        (OP) Regarding headaches, I think a lot depends on what kind of headache you have. If you have a headache from congestion, seasonal allergies or cold/flu, then spicy hot food may help a lot. When I lived in Tallahassee and got colds in the very rainy winters I would eat hot Thai curry and it always made me feel better. But eat alone because your nose may start running so you may not be the best dinner companion. :P

        1. re: glowworm

          "hannaone, if anything relieved "internal dampness" it would kill you. My insides are definitely supposed to be wet." ROFL!!

          I believe the internal dampness refers to either excessive liquid production or "impure" liquid production. (Diarrhea and incontinance/toxins)
          Celery and Spinach would treat headache caused by hypertension.
          Sword bean would treat headache associated with coughing disorders and possibly just general pain.

      2. turkey and other poultry contain tryptophans which are the ingredients of triptan meds for migraines.

        1. It does depend on the type of headache I think. If we're talking migraines here, I know myself that I don't want anything to eat, not just because of nausea, but also because it's like my system shuts down (my stomach doesn't growl for an entire day of not eating for example). Also with migraines, I think I read it somewhere that migraine sufferers tend to crave the very thing that will accelerate the headache.

          With that said, there seems to be more of a list of things to NOT eat than things we should. For migraine sufferers, a regular diet with magnesium and b vitamin sources is recommended. Food sources of magnesium here: http://www.hoptechno.com/bookfoodsour...

          I just pulled out my Herb and Spice companion, and two things were mentioned, nutmeg, and sesame seeds. So who knows, maybe a bit of halvah, tahini or spiced oatmeal might do the trick. Some headaches seems to stem from digestive troubles , and sometimes if you take care of that, the headache will follow. So i'd recommend ginger in any form (i've had candied ginger do wonders on occasion). Alternately, something hot and spicy can clear the sinuses, if that's the problem.

          I know when i'm on the side of recovering from a migraine and the belly seems to be working again, I always want simple carbs. Usually salty simple carbs.

          1 Reply
          1. re: im_nomad

            Yes, salty carbs are usually my first post-migraine food.

          2. For migraines, I like canned tomato soup- the salt seems to get my electrolytes back in order (exercise in overly hot weather is a migraine trigger for me) and the tomato's got some nutritional value.

            1. For a migraine, if you can stomach anything try candied ginger. The ginger calms your stomach and acts as an anti-inflammatory.

              1. coffee and if you don't want to drink it eat the beans ;)

                1. My best friend always says eat a banana when I say I have a headache. I'm not sure why, maybe the potassium?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Sooeygun

                    Bananas before going to bed after a night of drinking is a fool proof way to avoid a hangover. That and chocolate milk.

                    If you're already drunk....hash browns, french fries or potato pancakes. The greasier the better

                  2. Anything spicy. Capsicum cures every pain by introducing its own pain.

                    1. a big bowl of mac n'cheese with serrano chiles, fresh garlic and a handful of fresh spinach..
                      I like to chase it with a big glass of Ch√Ęteauneuf-du-Pape.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Beach Chick

                        beach chick, is that after the captain morgan? {;^D

                        that dish of yours sound so comforting and tasty! would scallions on top be a good fit?

                        1. re: alkapal

                          The Captain and a bowl of mac n'cheese and yes, scallions would be a good fit.
                          I fold in the spinach right when plating..this dish really kicks ass..
                          Thank's for thinking of me alkapal!

                      2. My headaches tend to be allergy-driven, so spicy soup helps. Bun bo hue, menudo, homemade chicken soup with minced fresh serrano pepper, whatever - they all seem to clear out my head.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: alanbarnes

                          Like alanbarnes, when I have a sinus headache, spicy soups are good. I love to get a bowl of hot and sour soup. It seems I get immediate relief. Also wasabi clears my head quickly.

                          When I have a migraine, I don't want anything to eat.

                          Sometimes, I get a headache that signals I need to eat something. Almost anything goes then and the headache is gone in minutes. That pain is usually accompanied by a dizzy and shaky feeling.

                        2. Garlic, lots and lots of chile, an aspirin and a beer. I understand that you don't want drink recommendations, but for the amount of chile I'm talking about, you need a drink that will cut the heat. After that, I'm feeling no pain.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: tmso

                            During one lengthy and very spicy Thai meal (I'm a Kasma groupie) I swear all our brains went on endorphin overload in response. Talk about feeling lightheaded and goofy.

                          2. A small bowl of steamed rice has worked the best for easing minor headaches. A little teriyaki chicken or Korean short ribs makes the dish complete, but it is the quick carbo load which the steamed rice provides that helps my head.

                            1. Fruit (esp. citrus and watermelon) seems to do it for me, prob at least in part b/c of water content.

                              1. For the first time ever, I got a migraine that lasted for about a week. It was horrible! The only foods I craved were carbs (mostly cereal, oatmeal or pasta) and roasted chicken or turkey.

                                1. There are many different types of headaches. But a lot of headaches are caused by some sort of "cold." (ever heard of brain freeze?) So eating warmer foods is more advantageous than eating colder ones.

                                  And there can be a dampness (what Hannaone was referring to) component in many headaches as well. Headaches with a dampness component tend to be like there's a band around your head. So foods that help engender dampness (sweets, fried foods, extremely spicy foods) should be avoided and foods that can drain dampness will be good (job's tears, bitter greens). In general, bitter things drain dampness. That's why a lot of people find their headaches relieved with coffee. However, drinking too much coffee can cause dampness. So it's all about finding the right balance.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Miss Needle

                                    Oh, and those sinus/allergy headaches are usually issues of "wind." Mild chili peppers, ginger, onion help resolve that issue.

                                  2. I used to work for a neurologist and also suffer from migraines myself. Habanero peppers have been known to help migraines (medical studies have shown this). I tried it myself and it works. It has to be habanero tho and I only know that this works on migraines for sure, I don't know about other headaches.

                                    I keep a few different habanero sauces in the fridge and make salsa if I feel a headache coming on. the sooner you catch it the better. don't let it get worse.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: carey24

                                      i read a article recently that referenced studies showing that the habanero effect may be mostly a result of distraction. you're distracted from the headache by pain in your mouth. but whatever works!!

                                      1. re: cimui

                                        I actually read an article saying that doctors add capsaicin solutions to wounds as a potent painkiller

                                        1. re: takadi

                                          you're right that capsaicin has been used successfully as a *topical* painkiller (actually capsaicin has been around in this form for a long time) and it is true that peppers have been used as a folk remedy for hangover headaches in south america. but i don't think laboratory studies have established a clear relationship between *eating* peppers and headache relief. at least some studies seem to indicate that the benefits primarily come from the distraction value.

                                          in support of carey24's point, studies like this one reported in the BBC do seem to show that capsaicin can help treat certain kinds of pain (no mention of headaches in this particular study) when *injected* (rather than eaten): http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/702...

                                          1. re: cimui

                                            Yup that's the article I read

                                    2. I agree with other posters that it depends on what kind of headache you have and what triggers your headaches. Usually when I get a headache, I want sugar asap and usally drink gingerale. Food-wise, I'd eat candy - depending on the type of headache either with or without caffiene. Fruit also helps sometimes, esp. oranges and lemons. Sometimes cinnamon or mint can help with tension headaches. Generally, though, I stay away from anything salty or fried. Also, for me it helps if the food is room-temp, not hot and not cold, if possible. Nothing shocking to the system.

                                      For allergy/sinus headaches ditto the hot foods and soups. I make chicken soup or jook, or eat tom yum or pho. Also kimchee. yum.

                                      1. There has been research that indicates that causing yourself to have brainfreeze will reduce or stop a migraine. So if you have a really bad headache you might try eating a lot of frozen foods.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. Empirically for me--Ritz crackers. I know, I didn't believe it either. But one time when I got one of my recurring migraines I had a handful to buffer the reflux I get from Ibuprofen, and away went the headache. I don't care to know how, but I can tell you that every time I get a [genuine, as in Dx'd-as] migraine, Ritz crackers do help.

                                          1. Anything with some serious heat, to get the endorphins and serotonin perking.
                                            Baked potatoes, bananas, oj - which, if your headache is of the "Irish Flu" variety, will help by replacing potassium lost during the, um, previous interlude.
                                            Spinach with ginger - for some reason ginger really helps, and spinach is the vehicle I use.

                                            1. I only get migraines, almost never any other kind of headache. For me, I crave high protein, high fat, high salt meals during attacks. I'm not sure why that is. Honestly, the best thing for me is a burger. Eating helps me enormously (I don't get the sick stomach a lot of people do, only the aversion to light and blinding pain). That and my meds :)

                                              1. I don't know what you SHOULD eat, but if I have a bad headache, I must NOT eat chocolate no matter how much I crave it. I don't eat much at all if I'm not feeling well... but I'd go for soft soothing easy-to-eat comfort foods that just slip down your throat without much effort, the same as for any other illness.

                                                1. Remember Streisand and Redford in The Way We Were?

                                                  Hubbell: You have any aspirin?
                                                  Katie: Oh, I don't. Push in on your temples.
                                                  Hubbell: How can you not have aspirin?
                                                  Katie: I always eat for a headache.

                                                  1. When I feel a headache coming on I go out for Fish and Chips.