A Conversation for Migraine

"Hemicrania sine dolorosa"

Post 1


In a sense I'm lucky, in that I frequently get the migraine aura and the full spectacular light show - but it stops there. Thankfully I never get the full-blown crippling headaches, at most a sensation of "tightness" around the head.

I've used the Latin phrase to head this posting as I read about this condition in "Fortean Times" and this was the title assigned to migraine aura - aparently mediaeval saints used to either mistake the flashing lights as a manifestation of God, or during the light show, where the centre of the visual field dims to near-blindness, they hallucinated religious visions inside the circle of zigzags and strobing flashing lights. Well, they say God moves in mysterious ways... it's certainly an altered state of consciouness, anyway!

I'm writing because I believe in my case I've identified a definite food trigger and I'm wondering if anyone else has a similar experience.

Exposure to almonds or produce derived therefrom - marzipan, frangipan, Bakewell tarts, Battenberg cake, or those cakes which are decorated with chopped mixed nuts, even breakfast muesli with almonds in - seems to bring on an attack about an hour later. I even had an onset when a chiropodist used almond oil as part of her treatment - all she did was use it as a carrier for some sort of unguent, but it must have been absorbed through my skin or something.

I had the clue just before Christmas one year when I was showing a younger relative how to shape and colour marzipan into "marzipan fruits" as cheap home-made Xmas presents. Without latex gloves - I was modelling the stuff up in bare but clean hands - about an hour later I felt very definitely ill. This got me thinking about a connection, and yes, almonds figured high as a suspect.

It also occurs to me that in the old days of Lucrezia Borgia, almonds were the starting point for distilling and refining cyanide as a poison. These nuts must therefore carry a very small percentage of naturally occuring cyanide compounds, but any normal person might not even notice as this might be such an incredibly small amount that it's below the danger threshold. (apparently Lucrezia might have had to crush and distill a few hundred pounds of almonds to extract a workably lethal dose). Maybe my cyanide threshold is a lot lower than most people's, and what is really happenning to me is non-lethal cyanosis?

Does anyone else out there have a similar bad reaction to almonds?

"Hemicrania sine dolorosa"

Post 2

Gnomon - time to move on

Not me.

You're right about almonds containing cyanide. The bitter ones have more of it, and it is the cyanide that gives them their bitter taste.

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