Migraine Brains Are Smarter
Migraine is the world’s most advanced health-monitoring system. Migraines send the body a message that something is wrong and a drastic change needs to be made for the purpose of survival.
This defense mechanism suggests that up to 43 percent of women who experience migraines, at some point in their lifetimes, have a smarter nervous system (study).
Five Reasons Why the Migraine Brain is Smarter
1. Stress Shutdown
“Emotional stress is a major contributing factor to the six leading causes of death in the United States: cancer, coronary heart disease, accidental injuries, respiratory disorders, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide,” according to research published in 2008 (study).
Testing for inflammation and oxidative stress can help identify chronic conditions, but migraines can be an immediate response to stress.
A systematic review of 25 migraine publications found that stress was the most common migraine trigger (study).
Migraines may shut down the body in order to prevent exposure to deadly stress.
2. Heart Attack and Stroke Indicator
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and stroke is the fifth leading cause of death (CDC).
A study published in 2016 found that migraine increased the risk of cardiovascular disease by 50 percent and increased the risk of stroke by 62 percent (study). A recent study found that female migraineurs have more than double the risk of stroke (WebMD).
Cardiovascular disease is an extreme example of the migraine brain warning the body that something is wrong.
3. Weather Predication
Many migraine sufferers can predict storms coming.
One migraine study found that a 0.15inHG pressure drop increased migraine likelihood in 64 percent of patients (study).
Pressure drops happen five or six hours before a storm arrives. As the pressure outside is reduced, the pressure inside the body expands. People with inflammatory conditions are often able to feel the fluid pressure around their sensitive nerves.
In the wild, recognizing an oncoming storm could provide time to find shelter. In harsh environments, this could be the difference between life or death.
Many migraineurs have this survival advantage.
4. Food Allergies
Numerous studies have found that food allergies contribute to migraines and elimination diets may result in complete or partial migraine remission (full article).
Allergens can increase oxidative stress levels and damage the human body (study).
Some food allergens are deadly, but many don’t become harmful until a certain quantity is consumed.
Migraines may stop the body’s ability to eat more allergens by producing symptoms of nausea and vomiting. This is a smarter response than allowing the body to be slowly poisoned without warning.
Over 38 genes are identified as susceptible to migraines (study). Some say that migraines are caused by genetics, but the research disagrees.
There are over 40 conditions associated with migraine (full article). However, these conditions alone are not the cause of migraine, nor are other migraine triggers.
Migraines are caused by a combination of migraine triggers and genetic susceptibility. A genetic predisposition to migraines explains why some people with chronic conditions or food allergies experience migraines and others do not.
Many rural populations in Africa have the lowest recorded migraine rates in the world. Rural Ethiopia has a migraine prevalence of 3 percent, but urban Ethiopian studies show rates of 6 to 10 percent. Genetics can’t explain why a town would have triple the migraine rate of its rural neighbors (study).
Rural people have many health advantages, such as adequate sunlight, good posture, organic food, social support, and exercise. They aren’t exposed to hundreds of food chemicals while sitting in a cubical all day. This puts rural people at a lower risk of the top preventable deaths and a substantially lower migraine risk.
Genetics play a factor in migraine, but only when there is prolonged exposure to migraine triggers that hurt the human body.
People that have migraines in urban conditions, but not in rural conditions, are examples of how migraine genes utilize a defense mechanism when exposed to harmful conditions. Migraine brains are smarter.
Obesity is responsible for more than 300,000 deaths per year in the United States. “It has been suggested that obesity is second only to smoking as a preventable cause of death,” according to research published in 2004 (study). New research suggests that obesity will become the leading cause of preventable death in the next few years (study).
Obesity increases the risk of migraines by up to 81 percent (study link).
According to a large survey, nausea occurs in 90 percent of migraine sufferers (study). Nausea may be how the body of someone with migraine responds to a problem that is often caused by eating the wrong foods.
Why Migraines Happen
Severe headaches are just one symptom of migraine. Migraines may also come with nausea, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, allodynia or pain to touch, visual disturbances, and more (source). Migraines can leave a sufferer debilitated for several days.
Imagine trekking alone through the Sahara Desert in 130-degree heat. What would happen if you became incapacitated for several days, unable to eat, drink, or move? Nature is unforgiving. A severe migraine in these conditions would kill you.
The human body adapts to the most adverse conditions. Why would this amazing creation strand you with a migraine? Perhaps the body is adapting to the causes of death we most commonly face today.
The official cause of migraine is unknown, but we know a lot about what triggers migraines. A facial nerve called the trigeminal nerve releases a peptide called CGRP when it is exposed to oxidative stress (full article). Technically, it is the nervous system of migraine sufferers that is smarter, which includes the brain.
Oxidative stress is associated with nearly all migraine triggers and many of the conditions linked to migraine (full article). Oxidative stress is a hot topic, not just in migraine research, but in the research of our top-deadly conditions.
You may not know what oxidative stress is, but you know what antioxidants are. Oxidative stress happens when a molecule loses an electron and turns into a free radical. The free radical then steals an electron from another molecule. This molecule then becomes a free radical and steals from another molecule, and so on. If left unchecked, the damage continues throughout the body.
Antioxidants donate an electron to that first thief so that it doesn’t go and turn other molecules into thieves (source). Antioxidants are able to stop the downward spiral that leads to oxidative stress, inflammation, and chronic disease.
However, antioxidants from food or supplements don’t always make it into the blood stream where you need them. Reducing exposure to migraine triggers, which cause oxidative stress, is necessary in combination with foods that provide antioxidants (diet).
It is clear that migraines are a defense mechanism against oxidative stress and the deadly conditions that oxidative stress is associated with.
Migraine brains are the only ones smart enough to tell us that oxidative stress is a problem.