The making of a user-friendly MAOI diet

Gardner DM, Shulman KI, Walker SE, Tailor SA
Department of Pharmacy, Sunnybrook Health Science Centre, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
J Clin Psychiatry 1996 Mar; 57(3):99-104


BACKGROUND: Many monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) diets are considered to be excessively restrictive and founded on poor scientific evidence. We present a safe and practical MAOI diet based on the related clinical and analytic data. METHOD: We used a critical review of the literature and our own tyramine assay results to categorize foods to be restricted absolutely, taken in moderation only, or unrestricted. RESULTS: We recommend that users avoid aged cheese; aged or cured meats (e.g., air-dried sausage); any potentially spoiled meat, poultry, or fish; broad (fava) bean pods; Marmite concentrated yeast extract; sauerkraut; soy sauce and soy bean condiments; and tap beer. Wine and domestic bottled or canned beer are considered safe when consumed in moderation. Other foods not mentioned are considered unrestricted. CONCLUSION: The concerns about perpetuating an overly restrictive MAOI diet include the avoidance by prescribers of a potentially useful treatment option, excessive limitations on lifestyle for patients, and increased risk to patients secondary to noncompliance with the diet. We propose an MAOI diet that has a solid scientific and clinical basis and that is, above all, practical.