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The cheese migraine libido connection


By Serge Kreutz (2004)

I know what is most important in my life, and I know what should be most important in any man's life.

I do not think that life, my life, is really important. If I could be dead just now, this would be fine with me. I mean dead, not dying.

I cannot simply commit suicide. It's unnatural. I am not genetically programmed to do it. I avoid it just as I avoid holding my hand into a flame of fire.

So, then... what?

Only sexual desires and their fulfillment makes my existence worth-while. When I am engulfed in sexual desires, and approach, and then achieve, not just sexual satisfaction but sexual fulfillment, I don't care whether my existence makes, or has, any sense.

Thus, for philosophical, metaphysical reasons, my sexuality is a matter on which I cannot compromise.

*****

Anybody who has been reading a number of articles of mine will have come across paragraphs in which I have mentioned my migraine headaches.

They are very unpleasant, to say the least. They start with an aura, or rather a non-aura: a loss of vision. Yes, I know, this is caused by cramps of cranial blood vessels. Because of tightened blood vessels, not enough oxygen gets to my visual apparatus... just enough for the processing of some peripheral vision. And in front of me: a black hole.

After half an hour, when the blood vessel cramp is over, the headache starts. I have very sharp vision then, because, of course, the cranial blood vessels are wider than would suite my well-being. They supply ample of oxygen this way, but put constant pressure on the nerves surrounding them, thus the headache.

Certainly, I don't like my migraines, and I know what to do to minimalize them, but there still is something more important in my life than the avoidance of migraine headaches, and that something is sexual desires and sexual fulfillment.

*****

The first version of this article was published under the strange headline: Can I, please, have my migraines back

And here is how I went on:

It has been suspected for some time that particular food can trigger migraine attacks... food such as cheese, red wine, and chocolate.

I have had migraine attacks since age 21. Initially, they always occurred during my sleep, so I had no awareness of an aura. Only a few years later, they happened during the day, and it was the vision loss aura, not the headaches that made me seek medical advice.

When I consulted headache specialists at the Klinikum Grosshadern in Munich (end of the seventies), I have been told that I could try to avoid migraine headaches by not eating cheese and chocolate, and by staying away from red wine.

I was not pleased with the advice that I should forgo cheese in particular. During the years in Munich, when I worked for a TV station, I was an ardent consumer of very Bavarian, strong-smelling, hearty cheeses. Actually they were the staple of my diet with some 300 to 400 grams a day.

The idea that my cheese consumption would trigger my migraine attacks seemed, at that time, so strange to me that I never took it seriously, even though I had clear indications to support the idea, as I know from hindsight. (Anyway, at that time, even those headache specialists did not seem very convinced.)

Rather than the cheese, for as long as I lived in Munich, I blamed the weather there for my headaches, which is common practice in Munich. I then considered this to be obvious because I suffered from migraines when in Munich but did not during my travels to Southeast Asia, which, end of the seventies and in the early eighties, I first undertook every few months, and then every few weeks.

Of course, in Southeast Asia, the weather is different from Southern Bavaria. But apart from that, the food that has been available to me in Southeast Asia at that time was also very different. No cheese.

The migraines were a major reason why, at the beginning of the eighties, I left Munich for good in order to settle in Southeast Asia.

As far as income was concerned, it first didn't work out so well in Southeast Asia. I may even say that I had a hard time for a few years. But I sure, too, didn't have a headache problem. The migraine attacks ceased completely.

Until a few years later, when I was well established and again could indulge in cheese, even though Gorgonzola, Camembert, and Roquefort could only be bought at five-star hotels and at prices matching the prestige of the shopping environment.

My migraine attacks also returned in full force. While it is quite obvious to me now that they were caused by those generous servings of cheese, I was blind to that fact at the time the attacks reoccurred. That time around, I didn't blame them on the weather, though. The weather in Manila is too different from Munich for that.

Rather, I suspected the stress of professional success as the culprit. My streak of good luck in business (the publishing trade) didn't last long and I soon had to move to another country and start all over again. Gone were the professional luck, the stress of being successful, the migraines, and the cheese platters at five-star hotels.

That's how I saw it then. Today I know that I should put it this way: Gone were the success, and the means to buy expensive selections of cheese, and, because of the modified diet, the migraine headaches.

But I was not ready yet to realize the cheese migraine connection.

Rather, I remembered that the headache specialists at the Klinikum Grosshadern in Munich, to console me, predicted that my migraine attacks would cease all by themselves after some twenty years.

That seemed an awfully long way off for a young man who felt so brain-damaged that he would wonder whether he would make it for another two, not another twenty years.

Now (when I wrote the first version of this article) those twenty years have passed, and I want my migraine attacks back. Surprised? I bet you are.

Actually, it's not the migraine attacks I want back, but the general state of health, or the pathological condition that accompanies them.

Because during all that years when I suffered migraines, I nevertheless enjoyed a pretty good sex life. But end of the nineties, when I was migraine-free, I developed the problems typically associated with the male midlife crisis.

And these problems, for philosophical and metaphysical reasons, were just not acceptable.

I tried a lot. I tried all kinds of herbs: ginseng, muira puama, gingko biloba. I tried all kinds of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. All useless.

I tried yohimbe and yohimbine. They give me erections alright. But the side effects are terrible.

I tried Viagra, Cialis, and co. Sure, they cause erections. But my orgasms on erections via phosphodiesterase inhibitors are disappointing.

And I tried dopaminergic drugs such as cabergoline, lisuride, bromocriptine, and pergolide. They all make me nauseated in the same manner as migraine headaches do, but yes, I can have sex after ingesting them.

My self-experiments with dopaminergic medications gave me important clues, not just on the cheese migraine connection, but also on how both connect to libido.

I can relive migraine symptoms, the nausea, the heavy-headedness, as well as others, when ingesting dopaminergic medications such as cabergoline, bromocriptine, pergolide, or lisuride which in some countries like France have been prescribed for impotence before Viagra.

But primarily, all of these are Parkinson's medication. All Parkinson's medications work by enhancing dopamine synthesis, the inhibition of dopamine re-uptake (the storage of dopamine for eventual later use), or by supporting dopamine functionality through other means.

A good number of Parkinson's medications are MAO inhibitors. MAO stands for, no, in this case not the Cultural Revolution but "monoamine oxidase". Oxidase is an enzyme in the human body (-ase is the common ending of the scientific names of enzymes). Dopamine (and noradrenalin, as well as some other neurotransmitters) are monoamines by chemical structure.

However, monoamines do not only occur as neurotransmitters with a delicate influence on human well-being. Monoamines are also a common part of many foods. The most important monoamine in food is tyramine, and, you guessed it, foods particularly high in tyramine include, in first place, cheese... aged cheese in particular.

Classic MAO inhibitors are a dangerous medication. They don't only inhibit the MAO that breaks down the neurotransmitter dopamine, the wished-for effect in the treatment of Parkinson's. They also inhibit the MAO in the digestive tract where it is responsible for foods such as cheese. And that can be very dangerous because those tyramines of which there are plenty in cheese then make it into the neuronal control system where they mimic noradrenalin and cause increased blood pressure and heart rate, possibly leading to death. Physicians themselves call the condition not by a strange-sounding Latin euphemism but have named it in plain English as the "cheese effect".

Wow, cheese as a deadly poison.

It took me a long time to realize the connection between cheese and migraine. But I now see a connection not only between the two, but, in a wider scope, between cheese, migraine, tyramines, dopamine, and being hyper-sexed.

Migraines are a discomfort, but being hyper-sexed is a wonderful condition. Previously, I thought it funny that while being bed-bound with migraine, and nauseated to a level where walking ten meters could make me vomit, I could still have sexual intercourse. And the same happens when I am nauseated by dopaminergics.

I said in the headline of this article (the first version) that I want my migraines back. No, not my migraines, but a health condition which is characterized by a susceptibility to migraines.

I want to be sexually activated as when I am your typical migraine sufferer. I want to be as driven by sexual desire as during a younger age. And I want to get the same pleasure out of my sexual encounters.

During a younger age, when I had none of the sexual problems of male midlife crisis, it never occurred to me, that other people, and I myself at a later stage in life, would experience sexual encounters during which they, and I, just couldn't get it going. I used to be able to turn myself on by just willfully focusing my thought on a specific girl, or a specific scene that I would imagine.

*****

Anyway, dopaminergics are not a solution. Unless you keep upping the dosage tremendously, their pro-libido effect will wane quickly. And upping the dosage will make you as sick as amphetamines.

Dopaminergics are good only a few times at minimal dosages, and I would not recommend to anybody to repeat my experiments.

Now I only use the testosterone booster tongkat ali. And I watch what I eat. Because, apart from elevating my testosterone levels with tongkat ali, I can fine-tune the monoamine tone of my body by just ingesting the right amount of amines-containing food.

This isn't always easy, and too much amines in too much protein will still cause me migraines. The trick, for me, is to ingest enough amines to elevate the presence of dopamine and other biogenic amins to a level where they support optimal sexual function and enjoyment, but to stay below a level where migraines would occur.

I can do this because I am lucky enough to be a migraineur. Those who are not can still resort to tongkat ali which, via testosterone and the prolactin-depressing effect of testosterone, also increases dopamine.

*****

Reviewing this article after a few years, I have to add some comments.

Migraines are much better researched now, and because the knowledge available on the Internet is much wider, many more people, especially migraine sufferers, can connect their headaches to the presence of biogenic amines in the proteins they eat. Biogenic amines, such as tyramine and histamine, are substances that have many neuronal functions in our bodies, and which are also ingested with food.

Among those biogenic amines is also dopamine, which is enhanced by dopaminergic drugs, with which I experimented widely in my 40s when I was bothered not so much with migraines but a loss in my capacity for sexual enjoyment.

I am considerably older now, and I have not only restored my capacity for sexual enjoyment to what it was in my 20s. I have actually been able to surpass that capacity. I am around 60 now, and sex has never been better. To a considerable margin, I credit this to the testosterone booster tongkat ali, and to a further, albeit lesser extent, I credit it to my knowledge on amines in food. (amo)


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Copyright Serge Kreutz