Can medications and certain foods cause migraines?

Dr Leisa

Absolutely! Although there are many causes patients cannot control for migraines, there are even more outside causes of migraines. These can be a result of environmental exposure, food or outdoor allergies, and weather. There are even medications some take for headache and migraines that actually cause them. Simple changes can be made to stop or diminish the onset of migraines or headaches.

Environmental Exposure

Environmental exposure refers to chemicals and other compounds we are exposed to every day in our daily activities. These may include perfumes & personal hygiene products. Over 50% of perfumed body products contain headache causing chemicals. Caution should be used when choosing personal hygiene products. Only fragrance free should be used, especially if you suffer from headaches of any kind. Environmental exposure may also include chemicals used in the home or workplace. Be sure and use not only fragrance-free products, but products that do not have formaldehyde and other dangerous chemicals.  Artificial fragrances, especially the ones that last all day, like the plug-in style, are a main cause of headaches of all types. Incidentally, many room fresheners contain hormone damaging chemicals as well. Paint, indoors or outdoors, should be non-VOC, or contain no Volatile Organic Compounds. So many paint products used in the home or around the home, may cause cancer, headaches, affect hormones, & other threats to your health.

Food Allergies

It’s not only the type of food, but the ingredients in our food that cause major problems for headache sufferers. MSG, or Monosodium Glutamate is a major cause, however there are many different terms for MSG that the average individual may not know of. Mono Potassium Glutamate, Glutamate, Glutamic Acid, Vegetable Protein Extract, and the most popular, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein. These are just a few, but are the most popular hidden terms for MSG. Artificial colors and flavors are also major contributors to the cause of headaches. It’s always best to cook your own food, preferably made with organic ingredients you’ve grown or purchased from a trusted local farm or grocer. This ensures that you are aware of everything you are putting into your body. Outdoor allergens, like pollens, fungi, and molds, may also cause headaches. Staying indoors on windy days, keeping your immune system strong, and taking natural allergy support will help you through the tough seasons, depending on where you live.

Headache Medications

Believe it or not, some medications taken for headaches, may actually cause headaches. This happens because of a rebound effect with overuse. When the drug wears off, the body suffers from a withdrawal of the drug. This can happen with even drugs that are not habit forming. Simple over-the-counter medication AND prescription medication can cause rebound headaches. Some of these medications include, caffeine containing aspirin, like Excedrine. Other medications include Tylenol, decongestants, codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, Imitrex, & Fiorinal. There are many more, however, these are the most common. So many patients take these to stop migraines, and are actually causing them to continue with their regular use of these substances. Should you take medication, please take caution with the frequency of the use of them, and discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Whenever possible, natural remedies and therapies should be used to relieve headaches. Chiropractic, acupuncture, diet changes, and environmental exposure awareness are easy remedies for headaches of most types. There are even natural supplements that support your health to prevent them. And most of all here in Arizona, be sure and stay hydrated with good electrolytes as well.

If you have a question for any of my articles, please email me at

Leisa-Marie Grgula, D.C.

Chiropractic Physician

Accurate Care Pain Relief Center

21043 N. Cave Creek Rd. #A9

Phoenix, AZ 85024