Headaches: First-hand Clues to Second-hand Reactions – Your Health Detective

If you experience chronic headaches, specifically migraines, doing a little self-detective work goes along way. Become aware of everything you consume by reading and understanding food labeling – it provides valuable clues to identify causes, rather than adding to your body’s overall toxic load by consuming medications that merely deal with symptoms.

A great example about headaches is by Dr. Leila Peterson, “Let’s imagine your body is a house with a smoke detector. Upon detecting smoke an alarm sounds, giving you a chance to take action before you’re engulfed in a full-blown fire. Simply removing batteries from the smoke detector when it screams is like taking a pain reliever for your headache without extinguishing the fire.”

Label –reading 101

One underlying cause I find most in my almost thirty years of natural health practice is rooted in the consumption of toxic synthetic ingredients that trigger internal inflammation and reduce oxygen to the cells. The next time you experience a debilitating headache, especially migraine-type pain, become the health sleuth by collecting clues for the previous 24-hours to onset of symptoms, such as:

→    Did you consume any food that was packaged or pre-made? If so, go back and read every ingredient. For example, the following are aliases for monosodium glutamate (MSG), a neurotoxin known to trigger headaches, facial tingling and numbness, and gastrointestinal symptoms.


Monosodium glutamate

Sodium caseinate

Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)

Vegetable protein extract

Hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP)

Autolyzed plant protein (APP)

Calcium caseinate

Hydrolyzed protein

Plant protein extracts

Textured protein

Hydrolyzed oat flour

Autolyzed or yeast extracts

Monopotassium glutamate





Natural flavoring(s)



Natural beef, lamb, chicken or veal flavoring


Malt flavoring/extract


Caramel flavoring/coloring

Modified food starch

Lipolyzed butter fat

“Low-“ or “No-fat” items

Corn – syrup, solids, high fructose

Dry milk solids

Protein fortified milk

Soy sauce or extract (unless naturally fermented like Braggs® amino acids)

OFTEN Contains MSG

Soy protein concentrates/isolates


Whey protein concentrates


Protein-fortified “anything”

Gluten/gluten flour

Dough conditioners

You Need to Know:

N    A neurotoxin is an excitatory neuro-transmitter, excitotoxin for short.

N    Glutamate is an amino acid that excites nerve cells to death.

N    There is NO ban on MSG in baby food; be sure it’s not lurking under an alias.

N    MSG and artificial sweeteners are both neurotoxins and are like providing the consumer with a low-dose psychiatric drug that changes the biochemistry of the brain. 

→    Nitrates or Nitrites are other huge contributors of headaches whose symptoms include, but are not limited to, facial tingling-numbness-drooping, blurred vision, and even anaphylaxis (throat swelling). These chemicals are added to preserve color and maintain microbial safety. Nitrate by itself is generally harmless; however, when it converts to nitrite, which forms nitrosamines, it becomes a powerful cancer-causing chemical within the body. When possible, purchase “nitrate-free” meats.

Nitrates are found in:

        Hot dogs

        Cured meats (bacon/hot dogs/ ham/salami, lunch meats, etc.)

Rescue Remedy: If occasionally you do eat foods containing nitrates, have a large glass of orange juice or at least 2,000 mg of vitamin C at the same time – known to inhibit the conversion to nitrosamines in your stomach. However, it does NOT eliminate the side effects described above. 

→    Tyramine is an amine known to cause elevated blood pressure and tachycardia by displacing norepinephrine from storage vesicles in the body. It is produced during fermentation of food products. Usually, properly refrigerated foods are not affected.

It is present in:

  • Most aged cheeses (Parmesan, Romano, asiago, aged cheddar and strong-tasting hard cheeses).
  • Fruits (especially over-ripe avocados, eggplant, figs, grapes, oranges, plums, prunes, raisins, and pineapple).
  • Processed foods contain high levels (especially yeast extract, sauerkraut, and shrimp paste, processed meats, cured or pickled meats, meat by-products and broths).
  • Game birds and wild animals contain high amounts.
  • Soy, mainly fermented products, contains high amounts (soy sauce, tofu, miso, and teriyaki sauce).
  • There is evidence that large amounts of nuts, peanuts, coconuts, and Brazil nuts trigger hypertensive reactions and headaches because of their tyramine content.

→    Sulfites are used in the processing and storage of food and drinks. The FDA requires wine, beer, and dried fruit to have sulfite warning labels. They are used to prevent or reduce discoloration and inhibit growth of microorganisms in fermented foods such as wine, condition dough, food starch bleach, and even in production of cellophane for food packaging. Sulfites occur naturally during the fermentation of wine and vinegars, which do not usually cause a headache or side-effects. However, in the U.S., it’s when additional sulfites are added that problems arise of hypersensitivity, headaches and allergic responses.

Aliases for Sulfites: sulfur dioxide, sodium sulfite, sodium bisulfite, potassium bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite, and potassium metabisulfite – dry chemical forms of the gas, sulfur dioxide.

NOTE: When purchasing wine, make sure it’s labeled “No Sulfites Added”, sometimes labeled “NSA”.

Side-effects of wine with added sulfites include:

Headaches, nausea, diarrhea, precipitate asthma attacks, blurred vision, etc.

Drugs that contain sulfites include, but not limited to include: Antiemetics (prevent nausea), cardiovascular drugs, antibiotics, tranquilizers, intravenous muscle relaxants, analgesics (painkillers), anesthetics, steroids and nebulized bronchodilator solutions (used for asthma).

Author’s Note: Every bit of information in this aticle also pertains to substances that “ignite” inflammation. If you’re a victim of any inflammatory disorder (fibromyalgia, arthritis, gout, etc.) you must avoid these food ingredients. Headaches and chemical-induced inflammation ARE preventable; begin uncovering clues with your detective skills today. My new ebook, Chemical Cuisine: Do You REALLY Know What You’re Eating? is now available for immediate download for $9.95…save shipping cost, paper, ink, avoid another dust collector, and print out useful information as you need it for shopping reference!

Your Health Detective:

Uncovering Clues to Add LIFE to Your Years…NOT Merely Years to Your Life, Naturally

Dr. Gloria Gilbère (aka Dr. G), N.D., D.A.Hom., Ph.D.,  D.S.C., EcoErgonomist, Wholistic Rejuvenist

Dr. Gilbère is renowned worldwide for her work in identifying and finding natural solutions to chemically-induced and inflammatory disorders, multiple chemical sensitivities, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, Gulf War Syndrome, and digestive disorders that defy conventional diagnosis and treatment. She consults worldwide via telephone and at her Institute in north Idaho. Visit her website at www.gloriagilbere.com for details about consulting with her.

Creator of certificated courses to become a Wholistic Rejuvenist™ (CWR) and for post-graduate education for health and spa professionals. Go to www.gloriagilbere.com and click on Wholistic Skin & Body Rejuvenation (WSBR™) for course outline. Available on-site at worldwide locations, and via distance-learning at your convenience globally.

Published by Institute for Wholistic Rejuvenation – ©2009/2010 division of Gloria E. Gilbère, LLC, all rights reserved.

Information in this newsletter is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by medical professionals, nor is it intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent a disease or disorder. The FDA has not reviewed or endorsed the contents of this educational publication.

Copyright is held by Gloria E. Gilbère, to which all rights are reserved. Other than personal, non-commercial use or forwarding, no material in this newsletter may be copied, distributed, or published without the expressed written permission of its author and copyright holder.


Silberstein, Stephen D. (2002). Headache in Clinical Practice, 2nd Edition. London: Taylor & Francis Group. ISBN 1-901865-88-6

Yang WH, Drouin MA, Herbert M, Mao Y, Karsh J (1997). “The monosodium glutamate symptom complex: assessment in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study”. J Allergy Clin Immunol 99 (6 pt 1): 757–62. doi:10.1016/S0091-6749(97)80008-5. PMID 9215242

Alexander Mauskop; Fox, Barry (2001). What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About(TM): Migraines: The Breakthrough Program That Can Help End Your Pain (What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About…(Paperback)). New York: Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-67826-0

Cohen AS, Goadsby PJ (2005). “Functional neuroimaging of primary headache disorders”. Curr Pain Headache Rep 9 (2): 141–6. doi:10.1007/s11916-005-0053-0. PMID 15745626


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John Riedl

Simply put that’s why I’ve gone down the health journey of research and creating health brands.

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