Most migraine sufferers will commonly identify “cheese, red wine, and chocolate” as the most common culprits for causing their problem. But in 1979, a surprising study on migraine in the renowned Lancet magazine revealed that eggs are implicated as triggers (1).
Eggs are actually a very common allergen. They are also one of the most reliable tests – unlike some foods, an intolerant person will test positive, just like an allergic person, if a standard food skin test is performed. Home tests are becoming popular even though they are not always reliable.
Unfortunately, the egg is contained in many products, from baked goods to cake frosting, the belief that cooking makes it harmless is false! Children with migraines are often allergic to eggs and at least two other trigger foods, and they can get relief simply by eliminating these foods from their diet. However, since eggs are an important source of protein, they should not be excluded from the diet unless you are sure they are causing you a problem. A food intolerance test and trial exclusion for three weeks should provide you with enough evidence to have a meaningful discussion with your qualified healthcare professional about whether exclusion will be beneficial.
One surprising place where the egg is common is in vaccines (2). Steps have been taken to combat egg exposure by obtaining embryo vaccines, but recent developments seem to show that even the slightest exposure to chicken products of any kind could be dangerous.
For those who are very sensitive, even inhalation could be a problem. Workers in a confectionery factory who breathe in the powdered egg white used in decorative frosting suffered from asthma attacks, so exposure to an egg allergen is possible even if eggs are avoided like the plague (3).
Egg white can even be found in vaginal suppositories or diaper rash ointment, and if an allergic reaction as severe as asthma or anaphylactic shock is possible, why not a migraine?
The sad thing about young children and food allergies is their inability to convey the point that something is wrong. Also, misdiagnoses are common due to the inability of parents or doctors to accurately track symptoms.
A child who has repeatedly suffered a migraine after eating ice cream may be allergic to the eggs or milk in the product, so a process of elimination is necessary to define the culprit.
Eggs are such a strong allergen that many doctors recommend not serving eggs to children under the age of two, as once an allergen is activated, the body can build up a memory around it and may cause more pain in the future.
There are several foods that, if avoided or administered in moderation, can prevent a red flag from being lit on a child’s immune system. Eggs are a bit of an enigma, with the yolk and the white; Recently, studies have shown that while the yolk of the egg is high in cholesterol, the white contains the means to combat it.
With no adverse reactions after 12 months, foods can be introduced one at a time. If migraines return, it will be an indication of a major trigger, which you should then try to avoid.
Eggs are good for you, except when they are not!
(1) Grant ECG, “Food, Allergies and Migraines”; Lancet 1979 May 5; 966-969
(2) Pediatrics under review; 2006; 27: 118-119; © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics
(3) Blanco Carmona JG, Juste Picon S, Garces Sotillos M, Rodriguez Gaston P; Occupational asthma in the confectionery industry caused by sensitivity to eggs. Allergy 1992; 47 (2 Pt 2): 190-191
Grace Alexander investigation