Imbalance of Serotonin causes Migraine Pain
What is Serotonin?
Serotonin is a hormone (biochemical messenger) that regulates anxiety, happiness, and mood. It is mainly responsible to improve your cognitive area and keep your brain active or make the brain properly functional. If there is an imbalance or if Serotonin comes to the lower level then you go into depression, intermittent headache, and migraine. You feel a mood swing and irritation while discussing and it makes your brain cumbersome with the clubbed thought process. The imbalance of serotonin causes migraine pain and has an adverse effect on your overall health.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that mainly regulates your mood & to promote smooth digestion. Apart from promoting good sleep by helping regulate circadian rhythm, It also helps regulate your appetite, improve your memory and learning capacity. It helps promote positive thinking/feeling and pro-social behavior.
The serotonin neurotransmitter efficiently manages blood clotting. Our platelets release serotonin with tissue damage that results in vasoconstriction and this process ensures blood clots to form when it is necessary. Bone density may also be affected by serotonin neurotransmitters when it goes beyond the desired level. The imbalance of serotonin also affects sexual desire in humans. It has been found that in some cases it increases the sexual desire while in other cases a decrease in sexual desire is seen.
Migraine – An Overview
A migraine can cause severe headache and throbbing pain or you can feel a pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head. It generally starts with nausea, irritation in behavior, mood swing, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can last for hours to days. The migraine pain can be so severe where your daily activities get hampered and put you in a perplexing situation.
Many of us feel a sensation once a migraine occurs before or with the headache. It may observed or can be visual disturbances, such as flashes of light or blind spots. You also can feel other disturbances, such as tingling on one side of the face or in an arm or leg and difficulty speaking. General medications can help prevent some migraines and make them less painful. An appropriate medication, combined with self-help, homely remedies, and lifestyle changes, might help in fighting migraine headaches. The recurrence of the same can also be controlled, if we act swiftly before the trigger starts.
Symptoms of Migraine
It has been observed that migraines often begin in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood, can progress through four stages:
Prodromal phase (waning phase), Aura (Temp Stage/Not always), Attack (Main Stage), and Postdromal. It is not clear that everyone who has migraines goes through all stages but some of the symptoms may occur during the migraine.
Prodromal or Warning Phase
At this stage, it is observed certain physical and mental changes such as tiredness, constipation, mood changes, from depression to euphoria, Food cravings, Neck stiffness, increased thirst and urination, and sometimes frequent yawning. These symptoms or feelings can last from 2 to 24 hours.
Aura Phase (Tem Stage for Migraine’ trigger)
For some people, aura might occur before or during migraines. The aura of migraine is a combination of a wide range of neurological symptoms. They’re usually visual but can also include other disturbances. Each symptom usually begins gradually, builds up over several minutes, and lasts for 10 to 60 minutes.
Examples of migraine aura include:
- Visual phenomena, such as seeing various shapes, colored spots, zigzag lines, and flashes of light
- Pins and needles sensations in an arm or leg are felt once we get migraine trigger.
- Weakness or numbness in the face or one side of the body is observed during the period.
- Feeling of fear, memory loss, and hearing noises or music.
Attack (Main Stage of Migraine)
A migraine headache usually lasts from 1 to 3 days if untreated. During these periods you feel that you are running with a severe headache and unbearable pain. It is typically throbbing and increases once you move your body in any direction. The headache may be on one side of the head or can move to another side. At this juncture, nausea and vomiting can happen and you feel so much pain and irritation and get sensitive to light or sound, or both can be felt.
Post-dromal Stage(Recovery Stage)
This is the final stage of a migraine attack, and it put you in a hangover mood for a few hours or days for such feeling to disappear. After a migraine attack, you might feel drained, confused, and washed out for up to a day. Once you get out from the attack since you felt it at the beginning is now you feel a bit tired and look for something to eat as your craving gets high for some particular food. After the hangover, you feel full of energy and refreshed.
When to see a doctor?
Migraines are often undiagnosed and untreated. If you suffer such severe headaches and observe signs and symptoms of migraines, keep a record of your attacks and how you treated them. Then make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your headaches.
Even if you have a pattern of intermittent headaches, see your doctor and elaborate on the symptoms which you feel during the attack.
Causes of Migraine
Though migraine causes aren’t fully understood, it has been observed by the experts/doctors that genetics and environmental factors appear to play a major role in migraine headaches. Changes in the brain’s nerves and its interactions with the trigeminal nerve, a major pain pathway, might be involved. So might imbalances in brain chemicals — mainly serotonin, which helps regulate pain in your nervous system.
Researchers and doctors are studying the role of serotonin in migraine headaches. Other than Serotonin other neurotransmitters play a role in the pain of migraine, including calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) but mainly the role of Serotonin is widely observed.
What triggers Migraine?
There are a number of migraine triggers, including:
- Hormonal changes in women– Imbalance in estrogens, such as before or during menstrual periods, pregnancy, and menopause, seem to trigger headaches in many women.
It is observed that oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy also can worsen migraines. Few women, however, find their migraines occurring less often when taking these medications.
- Drinks- These include alcohol, especially wine, and too much caffeine, such as coffee.
- Stress- Stress at work or home can cause migraines. Stress factor has been sensed as a second major factor for migraine headache.
- Sensory stimuli– Bright lights and sun glare can induce migraines, as can loud sounds. Strong smells — including perfume, paint thinner, secondhand smoke, and others — trigger migraines in some people.
- Sleep changes– Missing sleep, getting too much sleep, or jet lag can trigger migraines in some people.
- Physical factors– Intense physical exertion, including sexual activity, might provoke migraines.
- Weather changes– A change of weather or barometric pressure can prompt a migraine.
- Medications– Oral contraceptives and vasodilators, such as nitroglycerin, can aggravate migraines.
- Foods– Fast or canned foods, aged cheeses, and salty and processed foods might trigger migraines. So might skipping meals or fasting.
- Food additives– These include the sweetener aspartame and the preservative monosodium glutamate (MSG), found in many foods.
There are several other factors that make you more prone to having migraines, including:
- Family history- If you have a family member with migraines, then you have a good chance of developing them too.
- Age. Migraines can begin at any age, though the first often occurs during adolescence. Migraines tend to peak during your 30s and gradually become less severe and less frequent in the following decades.
- Sex- Women are three times more likely to have migraines.
- Hormonal changes– For women who have migraines, headaches might begin just before or shortly after the onset of menstruation. They might also change during pregnancy or menopause. Migraines generally improve after menopause.
How to get relief from a migraine?
We can’t get serotonin directly from food. Basically, this hormone is produced from an amino acid i.e. Tryptophan, or in other words, we can say that amino acid gets converted into serotonin in your brain. Tryptophan primarily found in high proteins food i.e. salmon fish, turkey and poultry, nuts and seeds, tofu and soy milk, etc. Also, you need proper medication and must take consultation with doctors. For temporary relief, you can go for relevant pain killers but for the long run and appropriate wellness treatment, it is advised to take proper medication and start your lifestyle with YOGA. You need to do daily work out and start doing Kapaalbhati and Paranayam like Anulom-Vilom and Bhramri. Some asanas i.e. Bhujangasana, Sun Salutation, and Sarvangsasan help you to get permanent relief from this disease.