One of the difficulties in isolating spicy food as a headache trigger is the fact that the spices are often being used in conjunction with other foods that could be headache triggers. So while certain spices may be safe by themselves, the type of food you’re adding spices to may possibly give you a headache. Again, tyramine is the thing to watch out for: Any kind of meat that has been aged, smoked, salted or dried, or has had tenderizer added, could potentially be a trigger. Additionally, any kind of nuts or citrus, such as lemon juice, could also act as a trigger in some people. When in doubt, check the ingredients of what you are eating. You may discover that you’ve been putting blame on the wrong components all along. Some simple food swaps could spare a headache for some.
Blame Your Stomach
The body is a complex organism, and if one part of it is out of balance, the effects can be felt all over. In fact, if you get a headache after eating spicy food, it might not be your head at all that’s having a reaction, it might be your stomach! Odd as it may sound, studies have shown that there may be a link between acid reflux and headaches. 2
Everyone Is Different
Finally, it’s important to remember that while there has been a great deal of research done on headache triggers, there still remains plenty of work. Just because no direct link between spicy foods and headaches has yet been discovered doesn’t mean spicy food can’t be a trigger for you personally. Every person’s different. If you believe spicy food is triggering your headache, try keeping a headache diary to track patterns and consider consulting your doctor.