• Nina Bayer Nina Bayer
    March 29, 2009
    Are onions a strong migrine trigger for anyone else?
    Nina Bayer Nina Bayer
    March 29, 2009

    I've met one other person who has the same reaction to onions, severe migraines. A book I found written about migraines (in the 70s) listed onions as the #1 trigger. food And yet, I never see onions listed as a trigger on current websites. Am I alone in this? I'd like to hear from other "onion-sensitive" people.





  • Teri Robert
    Health Guide
    March 29, 2009
    Teri Robert
    Health Guide
    March 29, 2009



    No, you're not alone in this.


    Do you know if you have any other food triggers? Take a look at our article Managing Migraine - Migraine Trigger Foods. As noted, the list of trigger food in the article is just a partial list, but if you'll download the free workbook, you'll find that we DO list onions as a potential trigger food.


    Hopefully, others with this trigger will respond to you soon.




    • ladychef41
      December 19, 2010
      December 19, 2010

      I am a chef and have never experienced onions as a trigger until recently! I can eat raw or cooked onions with no problem, but CUTTING them is a whole different story!!! I thought it was just a coincidence until the other day when I was feeling fine until I start slicing red onions.... WORST migraine EVER!!!! Started dicing one today for chicken and noodles and almost immediately started developing a whopper of a migraine! Fortunately, I finished before it getting to the full blown state. This sucks since I AM a chef and need to use onion frequently.... I actually found that wearing swim goggles while working with onions helps A LOT!! I may look silly, but at least I don't develop a migraine!

    • animalsfirst
      January 28, 2012
      January 28, 2012

      I recently discovered that red onions trigger bad headaches for me as well.  I live in a studio apartment so whenever I prepare/cook with them, the scent...fumes...whatever one calls it, lingers in the room and I'm feeling it for 2-3 days. 

    • Naveen
      March 05, 2012
      March 05, 2012

      From india...

      You can do one thing for your crying syndrome.:)

      Cut the onion in four halves after peeling and then run it down the water for 5 to 6 seconds. this should help you not have any more tears.


      Yeah one more thing no need for swim goggles. the onion has to wear it when it is under water :)

      I hope this should help.


      reason it works: the sulpher gas emitted stops as it getsstabilized and washed due to water.

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  • chtkx4 June 10, 2009
    June 10, 2009

    I found that only raw onions affect me.  Not just eatting them, but anything that they have touched.  I have somehow eliminated all of my other food triggers though if they are eaten together, it can sometimes still affect me.  I believed that it was cheddar cheese, avocado and dairy, but have since realized that the one thing that was eaten with them everytime was raw onion.  I don't get why I can eat them cooked, but it is such a relief to know that it is only onion.  Good luck, the food elimination diet is a pain, but is soooo worth it when you find that some of your favorite foods really arent the problem!

    • Jofo
      January 19, 2013
      January 19, 2013
      I have the same problem. Raw onions bother me but cooked onions do not. I have found that onion powder bothers me as well. Raw onions that have been sitting out for a while (such as those at sandwich shops which are sliced well in advance and placed in a bin) are the worst. I think yellow and white onions bother me more than red onions. Green onions are a safer choice but I limit these as well and make sure I stick to the green portion high above the white bulb. Interestingly, garlic powder really affects me too (as does the pre chopped garlic that comes in a jar) but I can use fresh garlic without an issue. READ MORE
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  • depressedmigrainemommy January 25, 2010
    January 25, 2010

    I also have problems with RAW onions only.  If they are cooked I have no problem!  Not sure why that is.  Every now and then I feel like I just HAVE to have raw onions on a burger, or a salad or something, and I make sure that my migraine meds (Treximet) is immediately on hand otherwise yes, I'll be down for the next 3 days!  I've been dealing with chronic migraines now for 18 years and still don't know all of my triggers.  It is also upsetting to know that so many people suffer from migraines, yet doctors can't seem to "fix" them, just medicate.  I'll continue to pray for not only myself but for all of my fellow migraine sufferers that a "cure" is soon found for us!

  • RudyOliver June 16, 2009
    June 16, 2009

    I have had the same problem for many many years and was diagnosed in 1988.  It's a continuing struggle to keep onions out of my diet.  People with the best will in the world make food with soups, Mrs. Dash's, salad dressing, and other items that they don't realize contain onions.  I've sent food back over and over that I was assured has no onions.  Strangely, over the years my stomach has somehow become able to strain out onions and I usually throw up whatever had onion in it, leaving the rest of the food alone. 

    I've always said that if I'm ever executed, my last meal will be French onion soup, which I also used to love.  Lol

  • Jamie March 30, 2009
    March 30, 2009

    Oh, you are SO not alone in this! Onions are a horrible trigger for me... and they just seem to just be in everything!!


    When I go out to a restaurant, I always ask if there are onions in the dish that I want to order- and make it REALLY clear that if onions are in the dish, I'm very likely to wind up in the Emergency Room 'cause I'm THAT sensitive to onions. I tend not to mention the word Migraine at all, as not too many people know that a Migrainee is not "just a headache," but a Genetic Neuroneurological disease!


    Hope I helped somewhat!


    Oh, by the way- My favorite winter food used to be French Onion Soup. Guess that one's out, eh?



  • cherokeelady1968 January 21, 2010
    January 21, 2010

    oh my gosh!!! I had onions sunday on a burger and have had a migraine for 4 days!!! It's happened before too.  I went and got a toradol shot yesterday and it did nothing!  So glad to hear someone else has had this problem!!

    • Browsegal
      May 10, 2011
      May 10, 2011
      I get toradal INJECTIONS as well. A shot of toradol does not work for me. My doctor always uses an I.V. THEN hydrates me with a full bag of saline solution for about an hour (medium drip) THEN when saline bag is empty, dr. Inserts toradol into I.V. MIRACLE procedure for me!! Onions kill me fir 3-4 days as well READ MORE
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  • SG
    August 20, 2009
    August 20, 2009

    Onions are my enemy!  Anything in that family- onions, scallions, leeks, fennel-- all give me migraines, too.  I find that people don't realize how difficult it is to have this problem.  It makes eating out very difficult.  And, I find that not all descriptions include "onions" but you get your meal and it's loaded. 

  • MigraineBrain May 17, 2009
    May 17, 2009

    Yup. I just figured this ONION thing out today. I googled it and found you folks. So, I am about to try some Imitrex, which does not work for me any way.  :(

  • D. Smith April 30, 2010
    D. Smith
    April 30, 2010


    This was pointed out to me at the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago as a possibility. After food journaling, it was confirmed.  My reaction is usually hours away, never just minutes after consumption.  So, it was hard to spot.  The docs there told me that reaction time could be up to 72 hours later.  Because of this, it is not considered an allergy as much as a chemical reaction.  If I neglect to notice uncooked onions on any food, the pain will be sure to remind me accompanied with vomiting.  I was so glad to find others can relate!!


    D. Smith


    • Andre
      May 12, 2014
      May 12, 2014

      Hie Smith,

      I am andre from Malawi,africa this is the same problem with me but i did not realise until now.always when i just eat anything with onion that the biggining of great pains in my head to the point that i feel very weak and vomitting...

      Thank you so much for sharing this with me.No more onions in my foods




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  • U.S. March 09, 2010
    March 09, 2010



    Migraines run in my family and onions (raw or cooked) are totally taboo for us. Strangely enough, I could eat onions without a problem till my late 30's, but ever since it is a big trigger. I check the ingredient list in all prepared foods and verify that all meals are onion free before I eat.


    I hope you feel validated now. Good Luck.



  • aromagurl February 25, 2010
    February 25, 2010

        I have the exact same problem with onions! It's a relief to know there are others who understand!  I can't eat onions - raw, cooked, anything; i can't even be around them, the smell alone sends me to bed with a migraine!!! I've sarted to just make everything at home and without onions -I've discovered that most stuff is still good (minus the onion) if you just work some other spices in....

        It is terrible; I used to love mexican, esp fajitas.... and grilled onion with steak or on smothered chicken. Oh, I do miss being able to eat them and all of the cooking shows use onions on top of onions.  But I love to cook and am not working right now so I've been trying to work with a variety of foods and dishes so I can still enjoy anything I want. 

        My poor boyfriend also loves onions with certain things, but he doesn't bring them into our home or complain about it -ever - and he is totally supportive because he sees the pain it causes me.  I have to work harder to avoid some things - like caffeine, I'm a Mt Dew addict. But overall, it's just the onions.  i can even eat garlic and sometimes I can use a tiny smidge of onion powder, but not often on the powder and only when I'm feeling invincible ;) .   I also try to avoid processed meats ( esp sandwich meats and sausage or bacon) and aged cheeses.... but it's differnt fo reveryone.

        Good luck! Hope we all have more migraine-free days in the very near future!

  • Ondine January 30, 2011
    January 30, 2011



    ABSOLUTELY, there is a correlation between migraines and onions -- you are not alone.  Until I kept a "food chart," isolating onions as the culprit, I suffered severely for years.  It can be cumulative, as well -- that is, one onion, maybe no headache, but an onion the next day -- look out !!!


    I have to watch everything I eat very closely.  I once was in a cooking class, tending a pot with onions in it, smelling their aroma only, NOT eating any, and had to run home with flashing lights before my eyes, nausea, and a severe headache, lasting, as you said, THREE DAYS. 


    But NOT since my discovery.  Just enter "migraines and onions" in the browser and you will come up with all sorts of correlations re migraines and onions.  I did it just now, and came up with a bunch.  I use the very top slot on the screen, NOT Google.


     I sat at a luncheon a couple of years ago, and the woman opposite me ordered a plate full of onions.  I asked her how she avoided migraines.  She immediately opened her purse, showing a box full of migraine tablets!


    You just have to be very, very careful, especially in restaurants to avoid them.  They are in every canned good in the market, as well -- soups, salad dressings, ready made salads, sandwiches, etc.


    Hope this helps, and GOOD LUCK !!!



  • kenn October 27, 2010
    October 27, 2010

    I suffered from migrain for a long time, I felt alone when the symtomps appeared on me, nobody helped me about it, you must learn how to cure yourself.  Onion was number one trigger for me. Eating pickles, skin contact to some metals such as rusty iron, copper, aluminium also trigger migrain. I think genetic prone and Blood Brain Barrier failure contribrute to migrain.

  • karenlee December 24, 2014
    December 24, 2014
    They give me migraines too! I usually use dried onions to avoid the headache. It's not eating them, it's CHOPPING them. READ MORE
  • laronel December 04, 2010
    December 04, 2010

    I am starting to suspect RAW onions is a trigger for me.  Although, it may ONLY be when I touch them.  I get a strange smell on my hands that won't wash off!  Some sort of chemical reaction???????   I am hoping this is the ONLY trigger.  I am going to start journaling.  Good luck to you all!

  • SubbuKrishna August 10, 2010
    August 10, 2010

    Hi, I am right now having migraine which started to day morning, I was trying to figure out the reason then I suddenly realized my stupid mistake of having eaten raw onion (I do know raw onion is one of the trig grant for me), but I do make this mistake at times, cooked onion does not seem to cause the problem, to tell u honestly I have figured out what triggers migraine for me, because some times even raw onion seems not to trigger migraine, but in general I think in order of priority it is raw onion, garlic, coco, potato (specially samosa, cutlet, batata vada), chocolate, poor sleep, stress (caused by in order of priority wife, boss, finance, deadlines.....ahahahah), now my migraine has some what come to control after practicing exercise, yoga and pranayama....regards to all.

  • gerrisumme February 23, 2016
    February 23, 2016
    YES! Onion, onion powder, garlic powder - all leave me with a nauseating migraine! It took me forever to figure out this was a trigger for me, as onion is in so many prepared foods, it's hard to avoid. I get a lot fewer headaches now if I'm very careful, but get upset every time I realize something I ate had onion in it, and the next morning, pow! Here we go again. It's frustrating. Thanks, I'm glad to know I'm not the only one out there with this problem! READ MORE
  • christenschneid October 28, 2015
    October 28, 2015
    I know this was written awhile ago, but in the last 6 months I did a Vegan diet and then reintroduced foods back in slowly. I had a severe reaction to White Onions (cooked and raw) Within an hour I had a severe migraine. I tried it again a few days later and the same thing occured. The crazy part is that I have been having migraines since I was about 16 about 2-3 times a week. Now I almost NEVER get them because I avoid White onions. I can have red and green though. It is weird. So you are not alone at all. I'm glad to hear their are others like me too :D READ MORE
  • jnnbattaglia October 15, 2015
    October 15, 2015
    No kidding! This is no joke. I've had migraines for years and my headache triggers have changed over time, e.g. cheese, chocolate. However, most recently it is clear that RAW onions will produce a blinding headache within 24 hours! Believe it or not it is a difficult food to avoid unless you are always making your own meals. Even then I just had canned stewed tomatoes that in fine print had onions and peppers added. This caused an agonizing headache. BEWARE! I wouldn't wish my headaches on anyone; I'm sure you would agree! READ MORE
  • Jos
    August 02, 2015
    August 02, 2015

    My husband has a pretty strong migraine reaction to _cooked_ onions. He actually can eat raw onions but something about when it's cooked it makes it so much worse. He says "I like onions but onions don't like me". So he used to just suffer but as a pharmacist I thought why not carry aspirin or ibuprofen around and one day we found out that if he takes either right after realizing he ate cooked onions, it helps a lot with the aftermath. At first we thought this was rare because no one we knew heard of this til recently hearing about a coworkers sister that has the same problem but goes as far as to never eat any form of onions. Definitely not alone!

  • tracey hoskin April 13, 2012
    tracey hoskin
    April 13, 2012

    I too suffer severe migraines that can put me in hospital if they get really bad. Onions are a big trigger for me and just about everything I like has onion of some form in it. Curry sauces, pasta sauces, soups, pies need I go on!!! I had a chicken and bacon sandwhich 2 days ago in a cafe and specifically asked if it had onion in. I was assured it didnt and I put the green bits down to some herbs... probably chive as ive had a migraine and only just got up after sleeping it of with medication. Guess I should have known better but it does make eating out really difficult at times. So far its just onions and its relations that seem to affect me just got to remain careful!!!



  • iinsaayn March 07, 2012
    March 07, 2012
    Note to self...NEVER eat chicken and leek pie again (probably had onion in it too)! I can't believe these foods can actually be a trigger. My other recent trigger discovery is pineapple juice...which I love. I also think my trigger foods cause worse headaches when combined with stress and hormone levels out of wack. Hope this makes sense since i can hardly open my eyes at the moment. :( READ MORE
  • Naveen March 05, 2012
    March 05, 2012

    Onions are one major reason for migrane. Most people take time to figure it out. and thats me.

    Onion in raw form is a definite trigger.

    If one wants to eat then a small portion finely chopped and then fried thoroughly may not (i my case it did not give trigger) give you that trigger.

    However garlic in any form is a definite trigger. However. i have noticed, with very low qunatity one two max two cloves when fried did not give me that trigger.

    Why this trigger? i figure that it is due to Sulphur in them which is kinda toxic to some brain cells of individuals having migrane.

  • Katherine February 17, 2012
    February 17, 2012

    Hello Nina


    I came across this discussion after I had googled onion as a possible trigger to migraines.  I have had a migraine for the past three days, and I just could not figure out why! I thought I  had done everything right, until I REALLY thought about it.... I eat salad every night with my dinner, and I usually do not put onions in it; I am currently not working (looking for a job), so I thought 'onion-breath' would be okay, and went ahead and cut up some red onion.  This was never on my food trigger list, but it is now.  Who would have thought, huh?!  Imitrex works for me, but my insurance only allows 9 per month, so I limit myself. 

  • Willostory February 10, 2011
    February 10, 2011

    Not only onions, but garlic as well. And I LOVE both. My neurologist just looks at me like I have two heads when I tell her that these two foods trigger migraines for me. Frown But hey, if they do, they do.

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