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June 25, 1973

One Man's Cured Meat

JAMA. 1973;224(13):1756-1757. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220270050016

The proud Chinese restaurateur who feels embarrassed when a patron comes down with a headachy "Chinese-restaurant syndrome" can be comforted by the thought that hardly any eating place is innocent of serving food with headache-inducing potential. A dairy restaurant, or for that matter any eatery that serves strong cheeses to persons taking tricyclic antidepressants, invites a hypertensive "cheese reaction" with its characteristic severe headaches. Any ice cream parlor or luncheonette may launch attacks of chocolate-provoked migraine. Even the fare of the humble hot-dog stand, according to a recent report,1 is not entirely safe for a susceptible person.

The headache-provoking ingredients of the offending foods are generally well known, but the mechanism of their action is not always clear. For instance, monosodium glutamate is known to be responsible for the "Chinese-restaurant syndrome," but it is not certain whether it acts, as suggested by Ghadimi and associates (Biochem Med 5:447, 1971),