Migraine is more than just a severe headache. It is an extremely disabling neurological condition that affects almost 10% of the world’s population. During a migraine, more than 90% of sufferers are unable to work or function normally.
Although experts are unsure exactly what causes migraine, there are a number of triggers that have been identified. However these triggers range from the understandable (stress, mental overload, poor sleep) to the bizarre and extreme (eg, barometric pressure changes, hot dogs, and aged cheese). Past research has discovered that exposure to several triggers in succession is more likely to precipitate a migraine than isolated triggers alone. Which implies convergence on a common pathway…. but the question is…what is that common pathway?
Researchers from the University of Maine set out to discover what a selection of well-documented migraine triggers had in common, if anything. They discovered that almost all the triggers investigated were capable of generating oxidative stress. Some did this by increasing cellular energy production or by altering the membrane properties of specific cellular organelles. Others caused nerve inflammation or increased free radical formation. The authors concluded that oxidative stress was a plausible common factor amongst most migraine triggers.