Chocolate is a headache trigger for many people, yet, in a surprising twist, it turns out that its essential ingredient—cocoa—may actually be beneficial for headache.
Theobroma cacao—the botanical name for cocoa—has already been shown to improve hypertension and glucose metabolism. The new study found that it also represses inflammatory responses within the trigeminal ganglion. The ganglion is the root of the trigeminal nerve, which is believed to play a role in migraine.
“It appears that a cocoa-enriched diet in rats can repress the proteins that are associated with the promotion and maintenance of inflammatory responses such as migraine,” said study author Paul L. Durham, PhD of Missouri State University’s Center for Biomedical & Life Sciences.
Nevertheless, eating chocolate is still more likely to increase than reduce headaches due to its low cocoa content and the presence of caffeine and tyramine.