A comment from Kent has made me ask should tyramine sensitivity be a separate food sensitivity syndrome, as it is a group of symptoms.
Kent writes “I have read a sampling of the comments on this page [in the Blogs] and I see quite a few people who state that they are sensitive to tyramine but that they do not get migraines. They then describe symptoms which are typical of migraines! I think most people have the misunderstanding that migraines = headaches. But migraines present a blanket of symptoms, and not everyone who has migraines gets headaches with them! I myself am highly sensitive to tyramine. It causes me to get rapid heart beat which I can hear in my ears. I get dizzy, vertigo, foggy brain, fuzzy vision, sweats, chills, difficulty sleeping, and nightmares, along with general body aches. Only rarely do I get severe headaches, and when I do, they are even more rarely as distressing as my other symptoms.
It took me a long time to figure out that I was sensitive to tyramine, because everything I was reading only listed its effects on people with migraines or those who take MAOIs. I didn’t fit into either of those categories, or so I thought at the time. What made me more suspicious was when I kept reading that migraines are often comorbid in people with IBS, and I have had IBS since I was a teenager. Also, while I don’t often get severe headaches, at least two of my sibling do get migraines headaches quite severely and frequently, so I know it’s present in my family.
When I did more digging into tyramine and migraines I found out that, lo and behold, there are different kinds of migraines. Some of them do not present with headaches at all. My most distressing symptoms are actually quite typical migraine symptoms. As such, I have cut out all cheese, aged meats, processed and fermented foods and any other foods that are exceptionally high in tyramine. The only time I have a problem is either when I am under a great deal of stress, not getting regular sleep, or when I accidentally ingest something which I am not aware is high in tyramine.”
My thinking after Kent’s comment
Dear Kent, you have raised many issues that further show the complexity of food sensitivity. There is the issue of the best name for a group of food sensitivity symptoms. It has been traditional to say that all migraines, and, as you say, there are many forms, do include a headache. But as you note, from the 1970s, migraines need not include a headache. Neurologist Dr Oliver Sacks, in his book called “Migraine” calls these “migraine equivalents”. And we, who are food sensitive, need to remember that there are migraines that are not caused or aggravated by any food. Where we think other symptoms are migraines it is useful to remember that that would mean they can respond to medications that help with migraines. They could doscuss with their doctor if or how to migraine meds when they have been on a low tyramine/amine diet and use the meds when they have a less severe reaction as they may help some.)
You also ask us to wonder if all the descriptions of what people call tyramine sensitivity are migraine. I suggest we let them have their own name: tyramine sensitivity, as they have grown out of the early reactions to tyramine and they are always produced by food reactions. The reaction includes changes in pulse rate and blood pressure – either increased or decreased. Because there is a cluster of symptoms we should preferably use the title “tyramine sensitivity syndrome”.
You also raise the issue of what foods contain tyramine which is a mono-amine. There are various lists around and some exclude foods containing other amines such as histamine which is a di-amine, and many react to chocolate which contains another amine: phenylethylamine. So we have the complexity of those who have tyramine sensitivity but who often react to a variety of amines. You can see which foods contain the various amines in my articles on amines https://foodintolerancepro.com/category/tyramine-intolerance/detail-of-amines-in-food/ Foods containing amines often cause bad cramping in those with IBS, and they can aggravate other food-sensitivity symptoms, such as eczema, chronic headaches and even ADHD.
You wisely note that your family members have migraine and IBS. All food-sensitive people can use their Family Sensitivity History – explained in all of my books – to note the variety of different food-sensitivity symptoms family members have.
It is good to read books on various food sensitivity symptoms, especially the ones in your family eg on migraine, IBS, eczema, asthma, or ADHD, so you better understand the complexity of each and how individual the symptoms each person has are. It is even better to read a book that is just about food-sensitivity so you have an overview of the whole picture. I have provided this in Tolerating Troublesome Foods which has information on Understanding adverse reactions Individuality in personal reactions, Your metabolic fingerprint, Susceptibility in the person not in the diagnosis, Individuality in symptom reactions, Individuality in reaction threshold, What to expect when you are reacting – symptoms, What to expect: less usual symptoms, Symptoms & conditions families report diet changing, Tolerance can change for many reasons and so on.
You note that you may react to some food you are not aware is high in tyramine. As well as thinking about symptoms we can also think about what foods people react to. As well as reacting to amines, many people also react to high additive foods, high salicylate foods and monosodium glutamate. As well as food you and many people react to insufficient sleep, inhalants, stress, and other factors provided in the idea of the Total Body Load.
Overall each food sensitive person has their own cluster of symptoms and their own suspect foods and other factors causing reactions which they have learned by starting from a good Baseline Diet. See “Are You Food Sensitive?” if you are still needing to clarify what is relevant for you.
Thank you Kent, for bringing up ideas that make us think more about the whole idea of food sensitivity, especially that tyramine sensitivity should possibly be considered as a food sensitivity syndrome in its own right.
Good day! I came across your website because I’m looking for a solution to my problem – I feel bad after consuming products with tyramine. Could you tell me please, there is whether what the medical treatment or be, to avoid diets. Just a list of products – provocateurs too big, it worsens the quality of life. Thanks in advance for the answer!
Susan Linke says
Yes, absolutely, tyramine and phenylethylamine are both tested on the MRT (Mediator Release Test) that I use for my food sensitivity clients and many of them do react to it. They are both vasopressors and common migraine triggers as well. When someone has migraines, I typically pull tyramine and phenylethylamine sources for a couple of weeks to see if symptoms improve, and then I can add it back in if warranted.
Yes Susan, it is all diet detective work! I just love some of the diamines – putresine and cadaverine! They convey the idea that where foods smell off to the food sensitive person they should be careful even when others say the food smells ok for them. Note that most clinicians report it is wise to run the baseline diet for four weeks so that there is maximum chance of seeing if there is an effect. Some patients are unlucky and take 5 to 10 days to get through the worse-symptoms withdrawal phase. I support totally your reminder to add foods back after the trial phase, to test tolerance and include where possible.