Advice sheet: food & drink and the monoamine oxidase inhibitors

Tyramine is a naturally occurring substance that is present in a number of foods and drinks. MAOIs prevent the breakdown of tyramine, and a build up of this substance can result in dangerous increases in blood pressure (hypertensive crisis).

Symptoms may include a severe headache (particularly at the back of the head), dizziness, flushing, sweating, nausea, vomiting, a pounding heart, numbness or tingling of the hands or feet, pain or stiffness in the neck, sensitivity to light, or chest pain.1,2 If symptoms occur, medical attention should be sought immediately and it is advisable not to lie down as this may increase the blood pressure further.2 Avoiding foods and drinks with a high tyramine content will help prevent this adverse effect occurring.