Clinical research from the cutting edge of scientific study, has found the probable root cause of migraines, and it shows that migraines can be managed naturally.
Doctors don’t know what causes migraines, which are a complex neurological disorder that can be profoundly debilitating for the sufferer. The root cause of migraines is different from the migraine trigger (an event or series of events that bring a migraine to life). Triggers are reasonably well understood, if complex in their mechanisms. For example, cheese, red wine, bright lights, stress etc. are all well recognised migraine triggers.
But what is the underlying cause, what is it about a migraine sufferer that has pre-disposed them to become sensitive to these triggers? Clinical researchers might just hold the key to that knowledge.
Migraines and oxidative stress
Over the last few years, a number of scientists have linked migraines to oxidative stress in the body1,2. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the number of free radicals in the body, and the number of antioxidants required to neutralize them. When there are not enough antioxidants to neutralize the free radicals, these dangerous molecules can cause permanent damage to cellular DNA. Oxidative stress is linked to a number of chronic health conditions, including cancer, heart attack, inflammatory disease, heart disease and neurological disorders.
In migraine sufferers, it is thought that oxidative stress may trigger neurogenic inflammation in the brain, resulting in the dilation of blood vessels, followed by the characteristic headache with its associated symptoms. In 2015, a single researcher (not funded by an external body), decided to investigate the link between these triggers and oxidative stress further, and conducted a systematic literature review of migraine research to date.
This literature review of 261 previous studies showed that each of the traditional migraine triggers, such as alcohol, aspartame, MSG, nitrates, noise, disrupted sleep cycle and stress, all had the ability to generate oxidative stress in the body. The researcher hypothesized that migraine sufferers endured either higher oxidative stress and/or had lower antioxidant defences3.
Much more research needs to be carried out on this theory to fully understand the root cause of migraines. However despite the limitations of the study, this theory is scientifically logical and is being regarded as a breakthrough in the understanding of migraine pathophysiology.
How can you use this information?
Most migraines can be managed or at least improved through natural dietary control. If you suffer from migraines you will need to:
- avoid your personal migraine triggers
- increase intake of compounds that protect against oxidative stress (such as feverfew)
- actively increase your antioxidant intake (such as vitamin C and riboflavin) to allow your body to neutralize free radicals present in the body
- replenish nutrients and minerals that are commonly deficient in migraine sufferers (such as magnesium)
About the Author:
Sonia Nicholas is a Biomedical Scientist and Freelance Clinical Science Writer. She has two degrees in Biomedical Science and been working in the field of clinical science for over 15 years. Sonia suffered with chronic migraines for over a decade, until she used her combined knowledge of nutrition and clinical science to devise a natural 3 Day Anti-Migraine Protocol. To find out how you can manage and prevent your headaches naturally, the book ‘Food to Fight Migraine: A Complete Guide to Dietary Control’ is available now on Amazon Kindle, or in paperback. You can also find more anti-migraine recipes and articles at www.thegreenappleclub.com.