Detox Headache: Is There Any Relief?

A detox headache is the most common side effect of a detox diet. Such diets have existed as long as the “grapefruit diet,” which dates back as far as the 1930s. The purpose of this severe type of diet is to reduce the harmful effects caused by consumption of toxins in the food you normally eat.

What is a detox diet?

The usual diet lasts for a period of two days to three weeks, and consists of limited consumption of food in both variety and quantity. Furthermore, you will be required to eliminate caffeine from your diet, and to increase the amount of water that you consume on a daily basis.

What causes a detox headache?

When you stop eating the things your body is used to getting, this can cause headaches. The first few days of such a diet can be very challenging for some people, as they have to eliminate things that they love to eat and drink from their diet. Although these foods are not generally referred to as “drugs,” you will still experience a withdrawal effect when those foods are no longer in your system. Headaches are the most common withdrawal effect.

Caffeine withdrawal

When you go on a detox diet, you will need to completely eliminate caffeine. If you are a lover of coffee and drink a cup two to three times each day, when you are going through caffeine withdrawal you will most likely suffer from a headache. This was documented in 1990, when a British medical journal published a study which concluded that one of the most common side effects of caffeine withdrawal is headaches. Other caffeine withdrawal side effects include migraine attacks and irritability.

Low blood sugar

Detox diets require you to consume a large quantity of water, and severely reduce your calorie intake. Suddenly cutting back on calories results in low blood sugar levels, which can lead to a headache. Furthermore, when you suddenly reduce the amount of calories that you consume, this slows your metabolism, and causes your body to enter starvation mode. If you suffer from epilepsy or diabetes, having low blood sugar will be dangerous for your health.


Also known as water intoxication, hyponatremia is one of the most common causes of a detox headache. According to the BBC, in 2008, a British woman experienced severe neurological side effects from hyponatremia, after consuming too much water as indicated by her diet.

Consuming too much water can result in diluting your blood and flooding your organs and cells with water as the sodium levels in your body are reduced. When this happens, the cells of your brain can swell, and cause an increase in pressure in your skull, causing a headache. Two other possible side effects of hyponatremia are breathing problems and seizures.

Headache relief

Drinking water is perhaps the best way to get relief from a detox headache, if you don’t overdo it and lower your blood sugar too much. Water has the ability to flush your system and eliminate the symptoms that are causing your headaches. You should also start eliminating foods you are addicted to before starting your detox diet.

Source by David Broadhead, Ph.D.

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About the Author: admin

I have a BSc and a Master's degree in human nutrition and is a registered nutritionist in San Francisco. I started out as a writer for Authority Nutrition in 2015 and transitioned over to some guaranteed health websites in 2017. Now I manage topic selection and medical review of all health content. I love sharing articles about healthy living, traveling and enjoying quality time with friends and family. I stay fit and healthy by playing with my three kids, preparing and eating healthy food and doing CrossFit.

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