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Finding What Causes Migraines. There's More Hope for the Future!

Written and verified by Holly Hazen

The details of what causes migraines has baffled scientists and experts for decades. There is still no cure in their 7,000 year history and no one knows for sure what the causes are. However, there has been some remarkable development in gene research. 

And this means there is great hope for your future, with better medications and better pain management. YAY!

Migraine headache triggers vary greatly between individual sufferers. Food, allergy, hormones, menopause, the weather... you will have different triggers and different symptoms than I do.

But what causes migraines is more about your body's biological function, the nervous system and your electrical wiring.

This biological functioning is basically the same for all of us, you have a body and this is the way it works!

What Causes Migraines? @migrainesavvyA number of bodily systems are involved including the stomach, muscles and blood vessels. It's not just all in your head!

What Really Happens? The Emerging Theories

Theories about what causes migraines have changed over time.

Migraines have been attributed to digestive disturbances and vomiting for almost 2,000 years and are still referred to as "bilious attacks".

Much later they were considered to be vascular in cause and it was not until the 19th Century that the evidence arose that "nerve storms" caused neurological dysfunctions.

More specifically when inflammatory chemicals are released and circulate around the nerves and blood vessels in the head, this causes over excitation, excruciating pain and other symptoms.

This post has a very detailed description, click here to read What are migraines and what Neuroscientists currently believe.

So, basically, you have triggers that cause a chain reaction of events. An over excitation of your nervous system results in symptoms and then the escalation continues. The headache pain is actually the third phase of the entire episode. 


A number of bodily systems are involved including the stomach, muscles and blood vessels. It's not just all in your head!

First Remarkable Gene Link to Common Migraine

A gene called "rs1835740" and the "TRESK" gene have been discovered and linked to common migraine.

In September 2010, after 15 years of research using over 3,000 individuals, Professor Lyn Griffith, discovered the TRESK gene that directly causes a common type of migraine.

What Causes Migraines? @migrainesavvyThe “TRESK” gene has been discovered and linked to what causes migraines. @migrainesavvy

She is the director of Genomic Research Center and the Griffith Institute for Health here in Australia, at Queensland’s Griffith University.

Professor Griffith says that the "TRESK gene is involved in the potassium channel signaling and the movement of ions and electrical charge in neuronal cells, which helps regulate pain pathways and sensitivity."

Genetic variants are called "allele" and this gene that has been linked to the common migraine is called "rs1835740". 

The newly discovered gene made the world news of the Sydney Morning Herald in their 20th August 2010 article "First gene link to common migraine" which explains it like this:

Gene rs1835740 lies "on Chromosome 8 between two genes, PGCP and MTDH/AEG-1, it allows a messenger chemical called glutamate to accumulate in junctions between brain cells, and this unleashes the migraine, the scientists believe. If so, drug engineers have a tempting target in preventing glutamate build up, they hope."

So, again in English... this discovery may lead to more targeted drugs or more specific acting medications being invented for migraine sufferers around this building up of glutamate between the brain cells. That sure sounds promising. If that’s the cause!

Hope for More Effective Pain Abortives

Migraines are still a poorly recognized and inadequately treated medical disorder.

The World Health Organization (WHO) ranks migraine in the top 20 diseases and a recent US estimate put migraines economic cost on par with diabetes.

Dr. Mercola posted on his August 12th, 2008 “Why Migraines Strike” article:

"Historical records suggest the condition has been with us for at least 7,000 years, yet it continues to be one of the most misunderstood, poorly recognized and inadequately treated medical disorders."

My #1 Choice in Magnesium Supplements

But now there's hope that researchers and pharmaceutical companies will be able to target this gene to create a more effective pain abortive, if an individual has this genetic mutation.

Researchers always seem to say that further studies are needed to establish more solid reliable results! Scientific proof seems to take forever! This leads me to think that what causes migraines still remains a little elusive.

And even more recently there have been more new discoveries around using CGRP Drugs for migraine. Another new line of attack. Genetic research should uncover many intricacies of what causes migraines going into the future and provide us with more effective and targeted pain relief.

What causes migraine attacks and what you can do to prevent them @migrainesavvyTriptans are effective abortives

There is more help available to you now than ever before in history.

Some Ways to Prevent Migraine Now

These are just a few ways to help prevent a migraine attack when you get your early warning signs.

  • Explore supplements that can help to minimize some causes of migraines

**Avoid your next attack by being proactive. EVERY single migraine prevented is a victory. **

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