New theories on migraines

One of my readers posted a link to a study on a new way of thinking about what is going on in our brains when we have a migraine. My last post was full of old information when it comes to the vasodilatation of the blood vessels.

In essence, the new thinking is that migraine pain occurs because the nerve fibers around the blood vessels become extra sensitive, not that the actual vessels become dilated.

I’ve been through a myriad of medical abstracts, and it does seem most have taken the tact that the pain is coming from the trigeminovascular system. From the Capital Pain Institute:

The once popular ‘vascular theory of migraine’ purported that migraine headaches were a cause of dilation and vasoconstriction of cerebral blood vessels is no longer considered mainstream. More reflective of current research is the idea that migraines are caused by ‘cortical spreading depression’ or a wave of electrical activity sweeping across the brain.

This electrical wave activates a nerve system known as the ‘trigeminovascular system’ (TVS) which is a network of nerves that can irritate the pain-sensitive lining of the brain (the meninges). The TVS explains the distribution of migraine pain, which often includes the front and back of the head and the upper neck.The prolongation and intensification of migraine pain is propagated by the inflammatory response (neurogenic inflammation) triggered by the TVS

I did find one study discussing the relationship between the two theories. I thought that was interesting. It talks about the neurovascular coupling. From Biomed Research International:

Changes in cerebral blood flow are one of the main features of migraine attack and have inspired the vascular theory of migraine. This traditional view has been reshaped with recent experimental data, which gave rise to the neural theory of migraine. In this review, we speculate that there might be an important link between the two theories, that is, the dysfunction of neurovascular coupling.

What I like about that study is that is does not totally disregard the idea that the vessels dilate. It takes the new theory and intertwines it with the old. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to disregard the vascular theory entirely when the trigeminovascular system theory is just a theory also.

I found a great article explaining both theories and how they might interact with one another on a site called Hormones Matter, written by Angela A Stanton, PHD. Take a look at it if you want a clear concise explanation of what I’ve been talking about. Edit: It was only after I received a flippant email back from the Hormones Matter site and went looking for who runs the site that I found it is a blog run by Lucine Health Sciences. They’re splash page says they are a Crowdsourced, direct-to-patient health research
Medication adverse reactions, treatment outcomes, drug safety and efficacy data group. I do not endorse that group or the blog attached. But that doesn’t take away from the quality of the article.

I question the validity of the new theory because none of the studies backing it up ever discuss the triggering process of migraine. They just discuss what happens once the migraine is triggered. If you suffer from migraines you know the key is what is triggering them in the first place.

Knowing what is happening once the migraine starts is important because you want to know how to stop the pain, but knowing what triggers the migraine in the first place, seems to me, to be the more important component in the process.

This is why I think the vascular theory still holds a lot of sway over me. If you focus on the trigger and not the resultant migraine, than histamine plays a large part in migraines.

What I’d really like to know is how many women suffer from histamine intolerance and have migraines. I think if someone studies that, we’d find a real correlation. With this in mind, let’s take a quick poll and see.

Keep in mind that the “once a month component” of the question is really based on hormones and histamine. I don’t get them monthly anymore because I am past getting a period, but I do still get migraines based on food triggers. So my poll isn’t really that refined. I’d say if you are like me, click the I get them monthly so we know this was the case.

If anyone has any suggestions for how to refine the poll, let me know. And as always, I welcome all to comment below.


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Posted in histamine intolerance, menopause, migraine, peri-menopause, Women's health
7 comments on “New theories on migraines
  1. My Brain on Tyramine says:

    I’m not sure this if this a new theory. I have
    histamine and tyramine intolerance. My migraines are much worse during colds. I can’t take most cold medicine or most antibiotics. It is a common symptom of this intolerance and can be found on the food intolerance web site. What exactly is it that you are looking for? Other symptoms such as asthma, rashes and migraine are also there.

  2. When I went gluten free in 2006 the migraines stopped. Obviously my trigger was gluten. In the last two years I’ve been dealing with histamine intolerance. The migraines have not returned but I am definitely having histamine issues.

  3. Histamines bothering you mean you are not drinking enough water. I have written several articles explaining the connection of hydration (and that is not just water) to migraines. Histamines are the water regulators of the body and that is why when you take an anti histamine, like Benardyl, you get so dry your throat feels like it is cracking. Drinking more water the “right way” so it actually stay in your body and hydrates will reduce your histamines since they need not come out looking for water. 🙂 It is a lot simpler than it sounds.

  4. sheesh.. typos from cell phone… sorry..

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