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Soy & Headaches

author image Diane Marks
Diane Marks started her writing career in 2010 and has been in health care administration for more than 30 years. She holds a registered nurse license from Citizens General Hospital School of Nursing, a Bachelor of Arts in health care education from California University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Science in health administration from the University of Pittsburgh.
Soy & Headaches
Soy is commonly used in Asian cuisine. Photo Credit: DAJ/amana images/Getty Images

Soy is a widely used food in processed meats, milk alternatives, and Far Eastern cuisine. Soy is made from soy beans, a legume related to the peanut and other beans. According to National Public Radio, soybeans contain a chemical called tyramine, which is considered a chemical that can trigger headaches. Headaches may also be a result of a soy allergy that causes your sinuses to swell, leading to pressure and pain throughout the head. Processed soy products may contain monosodium glutamate, or MSG, which is known for causing headaches.

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If you develop a headache every time you eat a product that contains soy, stop consuming soy and make an appointment with your doctor. Highly processed soy products, such as tempeh or miso, may have stronger triggers. Other forms of processed soy include fermented soy, cultured soy, soy protein isolate, protein supplements, and soy concentrate, according to National Public Radio. Eating soy beans may not trigger headaches as often or with the same severity as ingesting processed soy protein.

Allergy Sinus Headaches

A soy allergy can cause a headache to develop within minutes of ingesting soy proteins. Soy is one of the most common food allergens and will trigger a plethora of symptoms along with the headache. A headache from a soy allergy is the result of increased histamine levels in your sinus tissue, which causes inflammation. The swollen nasal passages trap mucus in your sinuses, which causes pressure to build in the face and head. Pain may develop in your forehead, behind your eyes, behind your cheekbones or in your upper teeth, which may get worse when you suddenly stand, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

MSG Consideration

MSG is a chemical food by-product that is commonly created during the soy processing. MSG can cause allergy-like symptoms from eating soy products that contain this chemical. Along with headaches, MSG intolerance may trigger other symptoms, such as sweating, nausea, burning in the neck, chest tightness, facial pressure and vomiting, according to the American College of Gastroenterology. MSG is required by law to be disclosed on the food product’s label.


Talk with your doctor before treating your headache. Most headaches that result from consuming soy are treated by avoiding the consumption of soy. Your doctor may recommend the use of over-the-counter medications, such as nasal decongestants and pain relievers.

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