A migraine is a vascular type headache characterized by a sharp, pounding pain located within one side of the head.
Signs and Symptoms
The pain of a migraine is characterized as a throbbing or pounding sharp pain. It is typically noticed on just one side of the head. Although some migraines come without warning, many migraine sufferers have warning symptoms (auras) before the onset of pain. Typical auras last a few minutes and include blurring or bright spots in the vision, anxiety, fatigue, disturbed thinking, and numbness or tingling on one side of the body.
Considerable evidence supports a correlation between migraine headaches and instability of blood vessels. The mechanism of migraine can be described as a three-stage process: initiation, prodrome (time between initiation and appearance of headache), and headache. Although a particular stressor may be associated with the onset of a specific attack, it appears that initiation is dependent upon the accumulation of several stressors over time. These stressors ultimately affect serotonin metabolism. Once a critical point of susceptibility (or threshold) is reached, a cascade event is initiateda dominolike effect that ultimately produces a headache. Food allergies, histamine-releasing foods, alcohol (especially red wine), stress, hormonal changes (e.g., menstruation, ovulation, birth control pills) and weather changesespecially barometric pressure changesare examples of some common triggers of migraines.
5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid isolated from the seed of the African plant Griffonia simplicifolia. The amino acid is also produced naturally in the human body. It is necessary for the middle step in the production of the brain chemical serotonin. Considerable scientific evidence indicates that low serotonin levels are linked to migraine headaches.
¹The Pill Book Guide to Natural Medicines, Michael Murray N.D., 04/2002