Artificial Sweetener & Headache

As with so many different foods, artificial sweeteners are anecdotally linked to headaches. A New York Times article summarizes the studies on the supposed link and concludes — as the International Headache Society recently has — that studies have not found an association between the two. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be a trigger for some people (it is for me), just that it’s not generalizable to everyone with headaches. Good article, but… The headline is, “The Claim: Artificial Sweeteners Cause Migraines.” I don’t need an article to know that claim is false. Migraines are caused by a person’s neurobiology. NO ENVIRONMENTAL FACTOR — from food to stress to weather — CAUSES MIGRAINE! How much do we have to scream for the media to understand this?


5 Responses to “Artificial Sweetener & Headache”

  1. Angel Says:

    It is a trigger for me, or rather, withdrawal from it is. I only started having migraines when my mom quit using artificial sweetener in the tea I’d been drinking all the time. So I avoid it like the plague (for this and other reasons).

  2. Roger McArtor Says:

    Please send me a referral for a physician handling patients with debilitating headache. I have a friend who is having cluster headaches 2x a day and injecting imitrex. He has lost 28 lbs and was lean to begin with. If you know of any headache specialist, I would be most grateful for a referral. In Phoenix,AZ, but would consider any anywhere.

    The doctor I saw in Phoenix is no longer taking new patients, but here’s information on finding a specialist:

    Best of luck to your friend.



  3. Rebeca Says:

    I suffer from migraines and artificial sweeteners are one of the food triggers that can cause a migraine for me. I get a migraine within one hour of consuming an artificial sweetener. Once I realized the connection I of course watch what I consume–but I’m not perfect. At Thanksgiving my family accidentally purchased a sugar-free blueberry pie. I ate a piece without realizing the content. Within 30 minutes I started to get a migraine. I was confused because I thought I had steered clear of trigger foods… I looked at the ingredients on the chocolate I had eaten (sugar free chocolate has gotten me before) and then the pie. I knew right away that the artificial sweeteners Maltitol and Polydextrose in the pie had been the cause, my consumption of which had triggered a three day migraine. Understanding and avoiding food triggers (such as wine and artificial sweeteners) has dramatically decreased the frequency of my migraine attacks–from one to three a month to one or two every few months. Of course these food triggers are not the only causes of all my migraines, but avoiding these food triggers dramatically decreases the frequency of my attacks.

    I’m so glad that you’ve been able to reduce your migraines by avoiding food triggers. I’m sorry you missed most of your Thanksgiving weekend because of a dumb blueberry pie!

    Thanks for mentioning that maltitol and polydextrose are artificial sweeteners. Other than aspartame, I never know what compounds to look for.

    Take care,

  4. junea Says:

    Artificial sweeteners also give me migraines. I wanted to point out to others with the same trigger that tooth paste has artificial sweetener in it and you can buy some without the sweetner in it at a healthfood store. I always got a migraine after going to the dentist and I didn’t know why–but then I figured it out. most dentists will clean your teeth with whatever toothpaste you bring them:) These dayd even things not labled as lite, have the artifical sweeteners in them including gum, mouth wash(listerine), candy, and some drinks. I would advise to always check the label.

  5. CZ Says:

    You must be an idiot or something to think you could know everything about migraines when scientists, doctors and scholars around the world don’t even know. I know for A FACT that artificial sweenteners cause migraines, I get one within an hour or so everytime I have any artificial sweeteners and if I don’t consume them, I am fine, no migraines. My nerologist confirms this is the trigger. You are a moron.

    No one is claiming to know it all. Many people have trouble with artificial sweeteners, including me. Others don’t at all. That’s how triggers generally work. What is true for one person isn’t true for everyone.


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