Iíve inherited a tendency toward migraine cycles. Itís a familial thing. Migraine, like depression, can be successfully treated by manipulating our production and use of serotonin, a compound formed from tryptophan and used by our bodies to regulate all sorts of processes.
For people with severe problems making and using serotonin, the new classes of drugs that help normalize that process are a real life-saver. But for those of us with just mild or cyclical cases, a minor bout of the blues, random binge episodes, eating foods high in tryptophan, serotoninís raw material, followed by foods that release serotonin, may just help ease us past a tough time.
Keep in mind that foods high in tryptophan are not for everyone. If you have lots of problems with cystitis, your urologist will have you avoid these foods. Also, tryptophan supplements (including 5HTP) are not confidently recommended by anyone these days. A bad batch a few years back brought a ban in this country that has been lifted, but until more studies on safe use of the supplement are documented, their use is considered risky. Stick to real food.
Nutritionists recommend timing your eating, using foods that release serotonin 3 hours after foods that are high in tryptophan. This combination will help comb out your frizzy brain, calm your anxious heart, waylay the green meanies.
Foods high in tryptophan will help you make serotonin: Most any protein, especially turkey, and soy products, tofu, beans, nuts and seeds are good. Milk and cheese too.
Foods high in carbohydrates will help your brain use serotonin. Of course, I have to recommend high-carb whole foods here, like fruits, whole grains, potatoes, starchy vegetables.
The trick to this prescription is not to overdo it. Donít binge on high-carb foods. Donít overfill your gullet with high-tryp proteins. Just a reasonable protein serving followed by a reasonably sized high-carb snack. No need to overeat.