What Causes Migraine?
Migraine is a chronic neurological disease with a strong genetic component. It is in some ways similar to epilepsy. The most common symptom is the migraine headache, though not all migraneurs (migraine sufferers) experience headaches. Migraine headaches are not regular headaches. They are often severe and may cause pain only on one side of the head. Neck and facial pain are also common. Migraine headaches may be accompanied by nausea, sensitivity to light or sound, visual disturbances, extreme tiredness, and other symptoms. According to the World Health Organization, 18% of U.S. women and 7% of U.S. men, or about 37 million people in the U.S. suffer from migraine. Migraine strikes at any age, but tends to peak in one’s 30s and 40s.
Migraine attacks – the headache phase – are often preceded by a build-up phase (called a prodrome). Symptoms experienced during this phase are referred to as a migraine aura. Migraine auras can include visual disturbances such as blind spots, zigzag lines or other visual distortions. Hearing disturbances are also common as are the sensations of strange smells and tastes. The list of possible auras is long, potentially unlimited as every migraneur is unique in their experience. Some other common aura symptoms include tingling or numbness, increased urination, lethargy, slurred speech, confusion, emotional changes such as anxiety or sadness, constipation, and food cravings. Many migraneurs learn to recognize their prodromal symptoms. This can be helpful in allowing the individual to initiate preventative measures before a full-blown
migraine attack occurs.
The Physiology of Migraine
Migraines originate within the brain. Your brain is made up of billions of brain cells called neurons. These neurons produce activity in the brain by relaying messages between themselves using small electrical pulses. Migraines start when some of your brain cells (neurons) do not have enough energy to properly regulate their functioning. The neurons begin to misfire and this leads to a sort of electrical “storm” within your brain. This abnormal electrical activity is likely a direct cause of many migraine aura symptoms such as visual disturbances. This electrical storm can in turn lead to various other changes throughout your body. The most common is the release of chemicals that make the blood vessels in your head and neck first constrict and then dilate. This blood vessel instability causes the horrible headaches that most migraneurs know all too well.
Most natural migraine remedies focus only stabilizing the blood vessels in the head and neck to prevent the constriction and dilation that leads to headache. Migrastil also contains ingredients that stabilize blood vessels, but adds ingredients that support normal brain cell functioning to strike at the source of migraines – misfiring brain cells.
So, migraine is a neurological disorder in which an individual’s brain cells have a tendency to electrically misfire. If you have migraines, you have a genetic predisposition for your brain cells to misfire. Every migraine sufferer has her or his own set of “triggers” that ignite this electrical storm. Just about anything can be trigger, but there are some common triggers including:
- Alcohol (especially red wine)
- Monsodium glutamate (MSG)
- Tannins (found in foods like tea and smoked foods)
- Tyramine (found in foods like deli meats and aged cheeses)
- Artificial sweeteners
- Cigarette smoke
- Hormonal changes in women
- Change in routine, especially sleep routine
- Weather changes
- Excessive noise
- Bright or flickering lights