Library: Jeanette - true story
"In early November, 1997, I stopped drinking black tea for the first time in 23 years. I knew that an abrupt decrease in caffeine would trigger a migraine, so I took caffeine in pill form. A week later, I realized I hadn't had any migraines all week. I have, in the past, gone without full-blown migraines for a few weeks at a time, but I'd usually wake up most mornings with pressure behind an eye or up my neck, and I could usually feel a migraine threaten me when I was in stressful situations. I'd been free from that all week.
A few hours after I realized how good I felt, I came across an article on the web. A letter to the editor of the journal Headache (1997;37:529) from Michael Mather, PhD, suggested that perhaps tannins may trigger migraines. Two women had reported to him that they had experienced great relief from migraines after they stopped drinking apple juice containing tannins.
I had always heard that tannins were good for us humans, so I'd never suspected black tea as a migraine trigger. In fact, I often drank more of it when I had a migraine.
When I found out what some of the common foods and drinks containing tannins were, the tannin link seemed something to explore. I knew that chocolate, red wine, beer, walnuts and strawberries definitely triggered migraines in me, and I found out that they all contained tannins. I cut out everything I could that contained tannins, but I continue to take caffeine in pill form.
Before I stopped eating foods with tannins, I have not only found a decrease in migraines, but I've also been sleeping very well (which I hadn't done before) and anxiety isn't as much of a problem as it used to be for me. Also, over the past two and a half years, I have not gotten a cold whereas I used to get colds whenever anyone at work got one (at least 2-3 times a year), my nails and hair are thicker and stronger and grow faster, I don't have joint aches as I used to. I'm a much happier and healthy person. I suspect that tannins lower the immune system function and otherwise decrease the amount of energy the body spends trying to keep itself well.
If indeed there is a link between migraines and tannins, the link is not always a one-to-one link. There are times when I can eat chocolate and suffer no migraine and times I can't. For 23 years, I drank black tea every day always steeping it a long time, but I did not get full-blown migraines every day. Although my tannin consumption was daily, my migraines did not seem to be. Sometimes I got very bad migraines for days; sometimes I had hardly any pain at all. I don't think tannins always cause migraines, and I think things other than tannins also cause migraines. But tannins seem to be a very big, overlooked trigger.
Stress used to trigger migraines, as did changes in weather. But since I've cut out tannins, neither stress nor weather changes have affected me much. Although I do still get some migraines with my period, they are generally MUCH less severe. Could it be that the presence of tannins simply makes known triggers more likely to cause migraines?"
You can find out more on Jeanette's web site: Tannins and Migraine.