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HeadWay, Issue #018 -- Pass the chocolate?
January 21, 2005

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In this month's issue:

Pass the chocolate?

New resources for you!

Say What?! Another blood vessel mover...

Pass the chocolate?

Every year around this time, we start hearing about new studies that have come out showing the incredible benefits of chocolate.  And yet, we've always heard that junk food was bad for you - isn't chocolate junk food any more?  And what about those of us dealing with headaches - how does chocolate relate?

Many of us believe that chocolate is a trigger.  But is that true, and if so is it true for everyone?  A study at the University of Pittsburgh in 1997 found very little evidence that chocolate was a trigger at all, in spite of the fact that many of the participants believed that it was a very consistent trigger for them.

So what's the truth about chocolate?  Basically, two things.  First, it should always be eaten in moderation.  Second, it may trigger headaches in some people but not in others.

3 surprising things about chocolate:
1. Chocolate tends to increase the body's production of serotonin.  Low levels of serotonin have been linked to migraine.
2. Does chocolate really contain caffeine?  If so, not much.  There's some confusion because caffeine and another chemical, theobromine, are often lumped together.  If caffeine triggers your migraine, you may be able to eat chocolate without any trouble.  Theobromine has some benefits, including its ability to relax muscles.
3. Chocolate may have other benefits.  It's high in magnesium, and important antioxidant polyphenols.  The trick is, you need to make sure you get lots of actually cocoa - more than you find in milk chocolate.  Look for dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa.

Read this new online article for much more on chocolate and headache, including where to get the best chocolate, and references.

New resources for you!

There are lots of new resources for you at!  Most notable is the new Headache and Migraine News Blog.  Frequently updated, this is the place to hear tidbits of information about headache from all over.  If you've been following it over the past month you would have read:
- News about Cox-2 drugs
- A tip about migraine and travel
- A clinical trial in the UK of a new treatment
- More on melatonin
- One of the safest migraine treatments ever

...and much much more!  You can view the page anytime by clicking on "Headache News", or you can subscribe to an RSS feed, or get headlines in My Yahoo!.  Be among the first as you find ways to fight back against headache!

Also new, among many other updates on the site, is a new Headache Resources page, where I will be gradually suggesting other websites on topics relating to migraine and headache.

If you haven't visited for a while, stop by and check it out!  Be sure to stop by the HeadWay MailRoom with your ideas and suggestions.  Your password is nomoache.

Say what?! Another blood vessel mover...

The word of the month is phenylethylamine (but you can call it PEA).  PEA is the chemical in chocolate that may trigger migraine in some people by causing the blood vessels to expand and contract.  However, it's also a natural mood enhancer, stress reliever and memory enhancer.
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