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More on migraines- and seasonal decorations too!


Hello Everyone,

Maddy here, just chiming in! I must admit to only an occasional perusal of 
the list these last few months, as life continues to get increasingly more 
chaotic, with one problem after another raining down upon us. But I couldn't let 
this subject pass without offering my 2 cents. Maybe it will be able to relieve 
someone else's terrible suffering.

Many doctors will tell patients that documented cases of food sensitivities 
causing migraines are not common, but if you are the one whose migraines can be 
controlled by certain food avoidance, you aren't likely to care how uncommon 
that is! 

A number of years ago I stumbled upon the Tyramine/migraine connection, and 
the relief for me has been nothing less than profound. If you were to search 
the 'Net you might find so much contradictory information about Tyramine that 
you might be tempted to throw your hands up in despair and cast off the whole 
thing. Trust me, don't give up! If you are Tyramine sensitive, you might find 
that something you ate with impunity one day might cause an explosive migraine 
the next time, and come to the conclusion that there is no connection. This can 
have several explanations:

1- The amounts of Tyramine in any particular food can vary tremendously from 
one batch to another. Further, Tyramine (and other amines as well) actually 
increases the older a food gets, so a freshly cooked meal might not bother you, 
whereas the leftovers, even though far from spoiled, might contain just enough 
more Tyramine to spark a migraine, especially in combination with another 
trigger.

2- One's susceptibility is a "threshold" phenomenon, meaning that you might 
be able to handle "X" amount of Tyramine, but if you climb over a certain 
amount, you will react. So eating several servings of one or several foods high in 
Tyramine can add up to a threshold dose. Also, eating small amounts several 
days in a row can add up to the same thing.

3- Often one can have a delayed reaction, so that the migraine you get on 
Friday could well be caused by something (or several things) you ate on Sunday, 
Monday, and Tuesday. This makes it a very diffecult puzzle to discern the 
connection and figure out the causes.

4- Each individual's degree of sensitivity can also vary from time to time, 
depending on many other factors such as stress, illness, level of immunity, etc.

So what foods are high in Tyramine? The basic rule is that anything cured, 
preserved, fermented, aged, etc. is suspect. The worst offenders are aged 
cheeses (Parmesan, cheddar, Bleu, etc.) red wine, and smoked/cured meats (bacon, 
ham, lox, smoked sausage, etc.). Very ripe bananas and avocados can be high also. 
Other foods can be a problem as well, but they contain different chemicals. I 
hate to be the one saying this, but chocolate is often a problem too! 

Then there are environmental triggers to consider. Perhaps you can eat a 
small amount of cheese and a piece of chocolate, but if someone near you is 
smoking, or wearing strong perfume, the combination will send you over the edge. MSG 
and Aspartame (Equal) can also be problems. The official position of the FDA 
is that these chemicals have never been proven to cause the reactions that 
people claim. But again, it doesn't matter if 1000 people don't react to 
something, if you are the one who does!

About 15 years ago we were sitting at the kitchen table while my son mixed up 
a pitcher of Crystal Lite drink, (sweetened with Aspartame). He was rather 
sloppy, and the volatile powder reached my nostrils within seconds. So I 
inadvertently got a hefty sniff that Crystal Lite, and within 30 seconds a migraine 
started crawling up the back of my of my neck, up the left side of my head, 
where my migraines occur 95% of the time.

Anyway, each person is going to be somewhat different, and will have to do 
her own experimentation. The best thing to do is to keep a detailed food diary, 
and when you get a migraine, look at EVERY morsel of food eaten within the 
last week. And don't forget that one piece of Aspartame sweetened gum or breath 
mint!

I have the URL to a website run by a woman in England who probably has the 
most detailed information I have seen anywhere about food sensitivities. Anyway 
who wants it, please email me and I'll send it on. (Including links in my 
posts messes up the format when it gets to the list. Anyone know how I can address 
this problem? Thanks!)

So, to justify this post as having something to do with gardening, I'd like 
to mention a wonderful and very easy decoration I made. Now, I admit, it's not 
exactly my original idea. I saw something similar in a catalog selling for an 
incredible price, and decided I could do it myself. I made a huge star, about 
25 inches across, from Weeping Willow branches and Ilex Verticilata berries. 
(The inspiration piece in the catalog was made from grape vines and the 
berries). I wired the main branches of the star together, then just started weaving 
smaller branches all around it. Then I hot glued the berries on. It looks 
beautiful hanging outside on a birch tree, where a spotlight shines on it at night. 
I see some birds pecking at the berries, too! Now I'm making very small ones 
(about 4 inches) as Christmas tree ornaments, and those I will coat with 
Verathane so that they last.

OK, back to work!

Happy Holidays to All!
Maddy Mason
Hudson Valley, NY  zone 5/6

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