Sodium Nitrite and Migraines

How nitrites and nitrates can trigger migraine headaches

Nitrates and nitrites are utilized as preservatives in many preserved foods, including meat, fish and canned foods.  These chemicals are also commonly known as potassium nitrite, nitric acid and sodium nitrite. They are often added to food for prevention of botulism which is a type of food poisoning that can often become fatal.  Another factor for the high usage of nitrites and nitrates is that they are able to provide reddish or pink color to foods as well as giving it a distinct cured flavour.

This substance, which is often found in prepared meats such as sausage, bologna, hot dogs, salami and bacon, can trigger severe throbbing headaches in individuals who are not suffering from migraine. They can also cause headaches that are undistinguishable from a migraine in individuals suffering from this condition.  In fact, the headaches caused by nitrites that are in hot dogs are named by some clinicians as “hot-dog headaches”.

Nitrates and nitrites can dilate the blood vessels in the neck and head hence causing migraine headaches.  The recommended solution for prevention of migraine headaches is avoidance of any food products that contains sodium nitrite.