Tyramine is a vaso-active amino acid found in foods. It precipitates headaches in some sufferers. It is an intermediate product in the conversion of tyrosine (an amino acid present in many proteins) to epinephrine (an active hormone produced by the inner portion of the adrenal gland).
Foods that contain tyramine may trigger headaches in migraineurs by facilitating a chain reaction which results in selective cerebral vasoconstriction followed by rebound dilation of the cranial vessels (the most common cause of the throbbing headache pain). This sequence of events is implicated in migraine headache.
Some of the foods containing tyramine are aged cheese, nuts, herring, and chicken livers. A more complete diet listing is available to members of the Foundation. Foods with high concentration of tyramine are contraindicated with MAO1-type antidepressants.