Migraines and headaches are a neurological disorder and range from moderate to very severe. Although the actual cause is unknown, it would appear that they are related to hormones in many women. Women suffer from them 3 times more than men. Boys and girls going through puberty suffer the same which again, suggests that it is hormone related.

Migraines usually affects one half on the head known as unilateral, but it can change from side to side or bilaterally. Migraines and insomnia are also associated with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.  Migraines usually happen around 6am which often wakens the individual. Blood glucose drops overnight and often causes headaches and panic attacks.

These attacks usually happen 1-3 times a month, but this can vary and many suffer from daily headaches.

Some symptoms experienced during the painful phase are:

  • blocked and/or runny nose
  • blurred vision
  • confusion
  • constipation
  • dehydration or oedema
  • depression/anxiety
  • diarrhoea
  • dizziness
  • hot flushes and chills
  • nausea
  • neck pain
  • osmophobia
    polyuria
  • sweating
  • vertigo
  • vomiting

Most of these symptoms are found in people how have low progesterone levels.

Some experience visual, speech and sensory disturbances before migraines start such as:

  • smelling odours that are not actually there
  • tingling or numbness
  • decreased hearing
  • visual changes - flashing lights, spots, partial loss of sight and blurred vision
  • hypersensitive to touch

Pre-headaches are experienced by 40-60% of people hours or days before an attack. Some symptoms are:

  • constipation or diarrhoea
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • food cravings
  • increased urination
  • yawning
  • irritability
  • mood swings
  • sleepiness

Depression, low mood, fatigue and difficulty concentrating or focussing usually follow an migraine, this is known as postdrome. Some feel euphoria after a migraine. It can take hours or days to recover.

The following disorders, combined with migraines are are connected:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • epilepsy
  • hypertension
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • stroke

A study done on migraine treatment found that women treated for migraines during pregnancy were 19 times more likely to suffer a stroke, 5 times more likely to have a heart attack and more than twice as likely to have heart disease, blood clots and other vascular problems. Women take the birth control pill are at risk of having a stroke.

Progesterone reduces the risk of clots by 10-15%, as it has anti-atherogenic properties. It reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Migraine sufferers are 2 or 5 times fore likely to experience anxiety and depression. Around 25% migraine sufferers have depression and 50-60% have anxiety. Progesterone and it's metabolite allopregnanolone, are potent anxiolytics.

As epilepsy is a neurological brain disorder, progesterone reduces seizure episodes. Seizures occurs in women more frequently at ovulation and a few days prior to bleeding.

IBS, including Chrohn's Disease and ulcerative colitis intensifies a few days prior to bleeding. Substance P levels are increased too and progesterone drops. Progesterone prevents the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the gut following drauma, including TBI.

Motor weakness can occur in some migraine sufferers, both progesterone and vitamin D3 prevent myopathy.

Certain triggers can cause a migraine:

Some believe that chocolate, cheese and alcohol are to blame but research studies are unable to confirm this. However, certain foods and alcohol contain histamine, they cause histamine to be released from mast cells. Histamine causes an inflammatory reaction, which when infused into a vein can provoke a migraine attack. Estrogen increases mast cell histamine secretion. This is initiated by substance P which is a pro-inflammatory, nociceptive neuropeptide. Progesterone and it's metabolites are suppressed by substance P, unless sufficient is used. Progesterone inhibits mast cell secretion.

Estrogen is an excitatory, inflammatory hormone which explains it's involvement and why more women suffer from migrains than men.

Substance P causes nausea and vomiting, the vomiting centre in the brain contains high concentrations of substance P. It coexists with the excitatory neurotransmitter, glutamate. Substance P increases glutamate activity and is implicated in the developemnt of brain oedema after traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Progesterone has been found to enhance GABA's calming affect and supress excitatory glutamate response.

Migrains relating to the menstrual cycle are more likely to occur at ovulation and the few days prior to bleeding, they can also occur during the entire luteal phase. Again a hormonal connection is made, not only during menstruation, but also peri-menopause and menopause.

Estrogen (estradiol) begins to rise about 5 days before ovulation starts. It rises quickly and in large amounts 50 hours before ovulation. Progesterone also surges 50 hours before ovulation and has nothing to do with ovulation, it is secreted by the brain. If the surge of progesterone does not occur, estrogen will become the dominant hormone and migraines, seizures, asthma attacks, panic attacks, heart palpitations can occur.

Estrogen peaks again at mid-luteal phase, progesterone should do the same. If an anovulatory cycle occurs, or the corpus luteum fails to secrete sufficient progesterone which is known as a defective luteal phase, progesterone will not rise. This rise is essential to counter the estrogen peak. If this does not happen then the symptoms listed above can occur during the luteal phase.

A vitamin D deficiency reduces the benefits of progesterone, it is also potent anti-inflammatory, both are needed to help migraines.

Natural migraine treatment

Before starting progesterone theraphy please read How to use Progesterone Cream and Estrogen Dominance.

To help revent migraines, women should use 100-200mg per day. If a mingraine and nausea has started, 400-500mg per day is needed, possibly more. The amount can be reduced very slowly over a number a weeks once symptoms have stabilised.

Men should use 10-100mg per day, more if symptoms have started. If suffering from previous TBI or concussion, or current PTSD, more progesterone is needed. Experiment to find a level that will suit you.

Vitamin D is vital and needed by every cell in our bodies to function normally. For more information on on vitamin D levels, test kits etc see:

The following treatments have been found to help migraine sufferers:

  • EFT
  • acupuncture
  • chiropractic manipulation
  • physiotherapy
  • massage
  • relaxation
  • magnesium
  • coenzyme Q(10)
  • riboflavin
  • vitamin B12
  • feverfew

Convential migraine treatments

  • beta-blockers
  • flunarizine
  • valproic acid
  • topiramate
  • amitriptyline
  • triptans
  • ergotamines
  • narcotic analgesics
  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • corticosteroids
  • surgery

A technique using transcranial direct current stimulation has been tested. It applies a mild electrical current to the brain from electrodes which are attached to the scalp. It reduced the duration of the attacks and decreased the pain.

Migraine treatment websites

References

Hormone Changes Trigger Migraines in Girls

Migraine Increases Risk Of Depression in Women

Technology eases migraine pain in the deep brain

Vitamin D, Migraine, and Health - Medical Complications: Optimize Therapy

More men with migraine suffer from PTSD than women, study finds

Acupuncture for pain: an overview of Cochrane reviews

Neuroimmune interactions in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases: disease activity and clinical behavior based on Substance P serum levels

The prevalence of headache may be related with the latitude: a possible role of Vitamin D insufficiency?

Migraine sufferers have higher risk of dying from heart disease and stroke, research finds

Migraines increase Stroke Risk During Pregnancy

Progesterone metabolites rapidly stimulate calcium influx in human platelets by a src-dependent pathway

Neuroactive steroids and peripheral neuropathy

Relationship between high prolactin levels and migraine attacks in patients with microprolactinoma

Vascular surgery for chronic migraine

Aprepitant (EMEND): the role of substance P in nausea and vomiting

Role of Magnesium, Coenzyme Q10, Riboflavin, and Vitamin B12 in Migraine Prophylaxis

Progesterone inhibits human infragenicular arterial smooth muscle cell proliferation induced by high glucose and insulin concentrations

Progesterone, but Not Medroxyprogesterone, Inhibits Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 Expression in Human Vascular Endothelial Cells

Vascular Effects of Progesterone

Progesterone protects against lipid peroxidation following traumatic brain injury in rats

The anxiolytic-like effects of the neurosteroid allopregnanolone: interactions with GABA(A) receptors.

Alleviation of migraines with therapeutic vitamin D and calcium

Effects of oestrogen and bromocryptine on in vivo secretion and mitosis in prolactin cells