The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

SD Causes Migraines?

dosco's picture

SD Causes Migraines?

So my family has been enjoying my SD loaves despite the fact that I'm having seriously mixed results. The last 2 weekends my wife has been experiencing migraines (after eating SD bread and SD waffles) ... yesterday she googled "causes for migraines" and came up with a site that indicated SD and "fresh yeast breads" can cause migraines.

Is this true? What is the cause ... could it be gluten? Or is it something to do with the yeast and LAB in the SD starter?

I'm curious.


dosco's picture

Thanks...very insightful...glad to see this board isn't different than any other on the interwebz.


clazar123's picture

There are many causes for migraines-including foods. I am not saying that SD is the definitely the trigger for your SO's migraines. Sometimes triggers can change and food allergies can also be seemingly intermittent or even additive, depending on what else was eaten. If these are a new phenomena, please make sure she has a medical evaluation. Headaches can be symptoms of many problems and a medical eval may be called for.

Please make sure any information from the internet you intend to use for making healthcare choices is from a credible source. There is so much information and so many people that speak very authoritatively and are really not educated-they are just so sure they are correct. And I agree that correlation does not mean causation. As a healthcare practitioner, I run into that all the time.

Finally, bakers, whether professionally trained or home bakers, are definitely not the ones to ask about a medical issue. It would be very thoughtless to give health and medical advice and this forum is not thoughtless or uncaring.

I hope everyone in your household has good health.



pongze's picture

I am a physician, although not a neurologist.  I see and treat many migraine patients and people with other types of headaches, however.  There often is no trigger.  However, over the years, I have learned that anything has the potential to trigger something in anybody.

I am happy that the first reply was BreadBro's.  He was pointing out something very important that definitely seems applicable to your case.  At any rate, if eating the sourdough seems to trigger a migraine in your wife, the solution is simple.

dosco's picture

I'm sorry that I posted this ... I was interested in some discussion, not snarky remarks or medical advice - neither of which I'm interested in. I'll stick to flour, water, and yeast from now on. Apologies for starting this.

is there a way to lock or delete a thread?



Heath's picture

Dosco - please don't let this thread put you off TFL, as the posters here are generally supportive.  Also, please don't let your experiences put you off baking sourdough bread, as the delicious taste and health benefits can't be overstated.  Maybe just keep your starter alive for now and try using it again in a month or so to see if your wife reacts again? 

I don't think the gluten is different in sourdough and commercially-yeasted bread, but there are lots of different yeasts, bacteria and enzymes in sourdough, as well as it being more acidic.  I don't know, I'm no expert in baking or health :)

All the best -

dosco's picture

No worries, TFL is an excellent resource.

i'll keep at it with the SD, the kids and I can still enjoy the bread despite SWMBO's apparent issues.



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Maybe it's not the bread but the flour being sent up as dust when you're baking, try to keep dust at a minimum and don't mix wildly or slap flour around.  Also clean up well after yourself, I get a headache too when I know my partner will be messing up the kitchen and I have to clean up afterward.   :)  

pmccool's picture

if the source of your wife's migraines is identified, would you post back here, please?  It isn't necessary to share confidential medical information; just whether or not sourdough/bread/gluten/whatever was the culprit.

While it can't be used as a basis for any generalizations, it would make an interesting data point.



ichadwick's picture

My 2 cents worth... I rarely suffer migraines, although I do have them occasionally. My family suffers them regularly, and I have a friend who gets laid out he gets them so bad, I can't think of anything all of us have in common that triggers them.

Mine tend to come with sudden changes in weather (like an abrupt high to low shift). My mother's triggers on red wine and strawberries. My brother on other things. My friend on still different things.

I have read a bit about them, and what I have read doesn't say they trigger on something that didn't set them off before, not that I recall. It might be a chemical that is in higher abundance than previously, perhaps an additive or byproduct that is in a new flour batch, or some byproduct of the bacteria that is in in higher quantities than previously.

Clearly not all of us get them from sourdough or even gluten. But some people may - and if so, why? What is it in sourdough that isn't in other breads? Proteins, enzymes? I'd like to know more.

Baker4life's picture

for over 20 years I'd like to bring the possibility of FUNGUS and/or mold to the table. I was first diagnosed after exhausting test results, mri,cat scan,etc, didn't show anything physically was causing it. But this was in the late 80's and most doctors then wrote it off as stress, weather, sinuses, what have you. Although it isn't my trigger I have a family member who can't eat or be around certain types of fungus/fungi. Strange as it was mushrooms and the sort make them want to gouge out their eyes with a screwdriver after consuming or being in contact with them. Or say it's a dormant mold in an old house, old clothes, ( think musty army trunk ). I know that SD is not green mold in the corner of a window seal in an old shack but it's still airborne bacteria in a sense.  Maybe something to consider....

By the way, turns out my trigger is added nitrites/nitrates they put in food, mainly deli meats, weiners, bacon,etc.
As long as I stay clear of anything processed with added "evil N's" I am usually OK.

Please keep us posted of your findings !

gerhard's picture

I think migraines are a mystery as each person seems to have unique triggers, fortunately don't suffer from them, my mother use to get them on Sundays and she later found out it was the result of sleeping in.  The other days of the week she would get up with my father at 4:00 a.m. which was the start time for their bakery, Sundays she slept in.  Once they retired she rarely got migraines and they came to the conclusion that the change in sleep pattern was connected to the migraine.  My brother-in-law gets migraines but I think they are more stress related.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Try spending more time doting on her between folds.  Knead and place in a warm spot to rise.

As a woman, I can relate to that. ;)  

dabrownman's picture

treat Mini, and even possibly a treasure and I baked your rye bread as close to any recipe as any that Lucy allows today in tribute!    'Here's to looking up your old address' - a special toast to you that most won't remember!

My gut reactions is that I think it it global warming of fungus the world over that is causing migraines - but I could be wrong too! 

Helmsdale's picture

As a sufferer of horrible migraines since childhood (although nowhere near as bad as my mother, who literally used to go green, and my grandmother before her.)  I'm nearly 70 now, and I've learned how to manage my migraine triggers over the years, although sometimes I get it wrong and occasionally its because of circumstances beyond my control.  

I'd suggest that you look for multiple triggers, rather than one acting on its own. I find that the migraine-monsters hunt in packs to bring you down, and that can make it hard to identify each separate one.  

The key for me is that my triggers need to gang up on me before a migraine is induced, and some of them bring more weight to the party than others.  There's a whole list of things that induce a migraine for me: cocoa, drinking chocolate, dark chocolate, cheese, raw garlic, onions, oranges, stress, tiredness, molasses, blood-sugar spikes, extreme heat, flashing lights, solvent fumes, alcohol... I haven't had any problems with sourdough or flour, though, and I bake a lot (which doesn't mean they won't be triggers for someone else - migraine is a very personal thing.)

By and large, I can tolerate any one of the triggers on its own without noticing ill-effects (except drinking chocolate or eating cheese, which always get me), and mostly having any two together is no big deal. Get three or four of them in one go, though, and I'm usually in trouble.  That might sound easy to avoid, and it is for most of the time, but stress and tiredness are key triggers and it's sometimes hard to do anything about them - it just needs a couple of the others to join in, and hey presto.

Just out of interest, is your wife eating a lot of cheese with the sourdough bread?