Have you ever had a debilitating headache? More than just an annoyance.
A headache that stopped you in tracks and sent you searching for a dark, quiet, cool place to rest?
Chances are you experienced a migraine.
Migraines are among the top 20 most crippling illnesses world wide. They can range in frequency and duration from person to person.
Although exact causes are not known, migraines can be have genetic causes, if one or both parents suffer from them. For others, migraines can be triggered by lack of sleep or nourishment, stress, strong odors, red wine, MSG (commonly found in prepared foods) or even chocolate.
Recent studies, however, have identified another cause of migraines, particularly affecting adolescents and young adults: chewing gum. The reason given depends on the study.
Some suggest aspartame, an artificial sweetener used in many chewing gums, could be the culprit. While another study performed by Meir Medical Center at the University of Tel Aviv suggests that chewing gum for an extended length of time could be the cause.
The study was conducted on a group of 30 children, age six to nineteen years old. They were all regular migraine sufferers and all chewed gum regularly for at least an hour a day.
All 30 participants were asked to quit chewing gum for one month. At the end of the month, 19 children reported that they hadn’t experienced any headaches or migraines. 7 said that they had fewer headaches or that they weren’t at severe if they did get a headache.
To test the results and back up the theory, 20 of the participants were then asked to go back to chewing gum regularly for two weeks. Every one of them reported that their symptoms returned in a matter of days.
This study believes that because the flavor doesn’t last for an extended length of time, the aspartame isn’t to blame. They suggest that the continual chewing motion puts an undue amount of strain on the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, which is the joint where the jaw and skull meet, and which is used when you chew. Misalignment, stress or strain on the TMJ can cause varying degrees of head and neck pain.
While the research may not come to the same conclusions about why chewing gum causes migraines, the research does agree on the important point: chewing gum for extended lengths of time on a regular basis, can in fact cause migraines.
By no means are we suggesting that you give up your gum. Some people find chewing gum can be a source of stress relief, or feel nostalgic about it, remembering their childhood when they pop a piece in their mouth. Just keep in mind that if you are a fan of chewing and suffer from migraines, you may benefit from giving up or limiting your chewing habit.