Migraine attacks, which are quite common these days, can last from a couple of hours to three days. However, these headaches are still poorly examined and treated, as their cause is of complex nature. They can be caused by neurological, environmental, and genetic factors.
All attacks are different and vary to a great extent. Therefore, apart from the common symptoms like throbbing and searing pain, some people experience “auras” before onset. In some cases, the person may also experience nausea, chills, sweating, sensitivity to light, sound, or smell, and vomiting.
It has been scientifically shown that over 300 million people worldwide suffer from migraine headaches, about 6-7% of men and 15-18% of women. Moreover, it is estimated that about 20 million migraine attacks occur on a daily basis.
Causes of Migraine
There have been many different studies about migraines and they all have examined the causes of migraines. But none of these studies were able to fully explain the causes of migraine in all patients. Well, sometimes these theories can be conflicting, but the majority of them show that the causes of migraine include:
– Excessive increase of blood flow in the brain. However, some studies concluded that these headaches are not preceded by constriction and decrease in blood flow, but rather by an increase of nearly 300 percent. Nonetheless, once the migraine attack is in full power, circulation functions normal, or only slightly decreased.
– A neurological disorder linked to nerve cell activity. Migraines are believed to happen because of a neurological disorder connected to nerve cell activity that sweeps across your brain, causing pain.
– Changes in the brain chemical serotonin. Migraine pain is also believed to be caused in the case of swollen and inflamed blood vessels, including those in the brain, as soon as the levels decrease.
– Vascular constriction in the brain. Migraines may occur from initial blood vessel constriction and a decrease in blood flow, followed by dilation and stretching of blood vessels, which activates the neurons which indicate pain.
Furthermore, Dr. Weil claims that certain foods may also cause a migraine headache, while food additives like nitrites, MSG, nitrates, and food coloring don’t help.
Here is a list of the foods which can lead to a migraine headache:
– Citrus Fruit
– Processed Meats
– Red Plums
– Soy Sauce
– Cheese (aged)
Migraine headaches can be caused by the consumption of the foods listed above, but they can often be a result of fatigue as well. Despite feeling exhausted, the lack of sleep may also cause migraines.
Vitamin deficiency and migraines
A recent study has found that vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid supplements cause reduction in migraines over the course of six months. These results were gathered by earlier researches as well, such as a 2004 study by the European Journal of Neurology which emphasized the fact that migraine attacks can be prevented by consumption of high doses of riboflavin.
Another thing which makes people prone to migraines is a certain gene mutation or dysfunction which is caused by increased levels of homocysteine. It has been found that hymocysteine can be reduced with the help of B6 and B12. The appropriate dose of these vitamins depends on your genotype.
According to Professor Lyn Griffiths:
“… if all patients received the same vitamin dosage for the same period of time it would be expected that those with TT genotypes, having a reduced enzymatic rate, would metabolize less homocysteine over the treatment period compared to C allele carriers, thus resulting in a smaller reduction in homocysteine and consequent migraine symptoms.
Indeed, it may be that TT genotypes although having a higher risk of disease actually require a larger dosage of vitamins to exhibit the same effect as C alleles. Further clinical trials of much larger patient cohorts are required to test this hypothesis.”
She furthermore says that their aim is to specify the optimal dosage of B vitamins based on the genetic profile. She explained that:
“The success of our trial has shown that safe, inexpensive vitamin supplements can treat migraine patients.”
Still, migraine attacks can be caused by other types of vitamin deficiency as well.
Namely, a study at the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Headache Society discovered that 42% of patients with chronic migraine have vitamin D deficiency. In fact, the longer a person suffers from chronic migraines, the more deficient in vitamin D.