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 MIGRAINES
Many studies have dealt with the causes of migraines, but none of them has managed to fully explain the occurrence of migraines. These theories are often incompatible, but most of them agree that the causes of migraine are the following:
1. VASCULAR CONSTRICTION IN THE BRAIN
Blood vessel constriction and a decrease in blood flow may often be a cause of migraines. This constriction is usually followed by dilation and stretching of blood vessels, which in turn activates the neurons responsible for pain.
2. CHANGES IN SEROTONIN
It is believed that migraine pain can be caused by swollen and inflamed blood vessels, including those in the brain.
3. A NEUROLOGICAL DISORDER RELATED TO NERVE CELL ACTIVITY
Migraine attacks are often result of neurological disorder linked to nerve cell activity which moves through the brain and causes pain.
4. EXCESSIVE INCREASE OF BLOOD FLOW IN THE BRAIN
According to certain studies, headaches are not preceded by decrease in blood flow but by an increase of up to 300%. Still, once the migraine attack is in full swing, circulation seems normal or slightly decreased.
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.”
Griffiths says that the optimal dose of B vitamins heavily depends on the genetic profile. “The success of our trial has shown that safe, inexpensive vitamin supplements can treat migraine patients,”-she adds.
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.