Oxidative Stress May Be the Common Denominator Underlying Migraine Triggers


Any number of triggers can bring on a migraine, including such different factors as drinking alcohol, experiencing a change in the weather, and not getting enough sleep. Now one researcher has determined that these common migraine triggers and a host of others can produce oxidative stress in the brain. Such stress is marked by a build-up of damaging molecules called free radicals and can lead to pain.

In a study published recently in Headache, Jonathan Borkum, PhD, of the University of Maine’s Department of Psychology, evaluated 2,000 studies about migraine triggers published between 1990 and 2014 and found that nearly all common migraine triggers are capable of generating oxidative stress. Based on those findings, he stated he believes oxidative stress can be a unifying principle behind the types of triggers countless migraineurs experience. Continue Reading

Danish Study Links Low Back Pain, Environmental Factors to Migraine

4038478934_c125f6f548_bAccording to a recent study from Denmark, people with low back pain and a low level of education are at an increased risk of developing migraine, as are those who engage in heavy physical work and recreational activities. The same study found that migraine risk decreases among those who consume alcohol at least once a week or more.

The longitudinal study included 13,498 people between the ages of 18 and 41, including 6,513 men and 6,985 women.  Researchers, led by Han Le, a PhD student at the Glostrup Hospital in Glostrup, Denmark, also found a difference regarding migraine and migraine with aura. A low level of education and heavy physical work and recreational activities increased the risk of migraine without aura, while underweight individuals were at a significantly higher risk of developing migraine with aura.

The researchers also noted that previous studies have indicated that smokers and people with asthma and epilepsy are also at an increased risk of developing migraine, but that association did not appear in this study.

Regarding low back pain, the authors say that its link to migraine is likely due to inappropriate muscle tension or compensatory structural adjustments of the neck or upper back muscles. Considering low education levels and high physical workloads, the authors suggested that an unhealthy lifestyle, stress, or poor education may lead to migraine. Finally, concerning migraine and alcohol, they noted that migraine sufferers are known to develop headache and migraine after drinking alcohol. It is possible that individuals prone to developing such problems typically avoid alcohol, affecting the study results in the process.

The authors say that too little is known about migraine prevention and that further research of of risk factors is important to prevent migraine.

“These results should be taken into account when migraine prevention in the general population is considered,” they wrote.

The study appeared in The Journal of Neurology Research.

Obesity Puts Many at Higher Risk of Migraine

A new study indicates being overweight may increase the risk of episodic migraine in many individuals.

In this study about weight and migraine, B. Lee Peterlin, DO, of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, led a cross-sectional analysis of almost 4,000 participants in the National Comorbidity Survey Replicated. They found that obesity increased the odds of developing episodic migraine (migraine 14 or fewer days per month) by 81 %, and increased the odds of lower frequency episodic migraine by 83 to 89%.  Additionally, they found the link between obesity and episodic migraine was highest in those under 50, white individuals and women. Continue Reading

Headache Sufferers’ Diet

The first step in the nutritional management of diet-triggered headaches is eating a well-balanced diet. It is especially important to eat three meals a day with a snack at night or 6 small meals spread though out the day.  You should include a good protein source at each meal/snack (i.e. milk, meat, fish) and should avoid eating high sugar foods by themselves, especially when excessively hungry. These actions will help to prevent the ‘hunger headache’.

If you are taking an MAOI drug (i.e Nardil, Parmate) you need to follow a low-tyramine diet. Continue Reading