Migraines: Serotonin and Caffeine

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Migraine headaches are the result of a disturbance in the neurochemistry of the central nervous system. They are relatively common, affecting three times as many women as men. Migraine sufferers typically report a definite pattern to their headaches, and they can report what stimuli bring them on. Most migraine sufferers experience their first attack before the age of 20. There is no single cause of migraines, but the tendency to get migraines does tend to run in families. When a migraine occurs, it means that something has altered several of the neurotransmitter-sensitive receptors located on the outside surface of the nerve cells (neurons) so that the nervous system is no longer able to constantly maintain the natural balance that the nervous system is intended to maintain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that nerve cells (neurons) use to communicate messages to each other. Receptors are special areas that receive these chemical messages. The key neurotransmitter in migraine is called serotonin (often referred to in the scientific literature as 5-HT or 5-hydroxytryptophan). If something interferes with the normal functioning (production, release, receptor docking, and/or re-uptake) of serotonin, that disrupts the normal functioning of the nervous system and can lead to various symptoms associated with migraine. The severe pain associated with migraine occurs when the mechanism that normally inhibits and/or mediates pain is disabled. There is no actual tissue damage occurring during a migraine attack. Instead, the pain results from a deranged neurochemistry. Migraine pain is like a loud fire alarm bell ringing when there is no fire. Scientists suspect that a caffeine withdrawal could be the possible cause of common migraines. Why? Well, caffeine is a powerful psychoactive drug that is addictive. Caffeine withdrawals produce all the same symptoms as migraine. Chronic caffeine use causes a number of changes to the central nervous system. Caffeine use...
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