10 Headache and Migraine News Highlights from the past 3 Months (September 2017 edition)

It’s time to take a look at your favourite posts from the last three months! The most popular posts are first, but the posts in bold text had the most “likes” on Facebook.

The clear winners this month included a new study on glutamate levels – showing once again that migraine patients have biological differences even when they’re not having a migraine attack. And, a look at electromagnetic therapy.

  1. The Low Tyramine Diet for Migraine – Is it time to rethink it?
  2. Glutamate Levels Higher in People with Migraine
  3. New Drug-free Device for Migraine Tested
  4. Pulsed Shortwave (Electromagnetic) Therapy For Headache Pain
  5. Earplugs for Weather Migraine?
  6. More Positive Results from the CGRP Migraine Treatments
  7. Serotonin Syndrome: Are Triptan Users Really at Risk?
  8. In Search of a Simpler Botox Treatment
  9. Could Stress Levels Predict Migraine Attacks?
  10. After My Headache: Migraine Postdrome in Children

Migravent: Migraine Preventative (Supplement)

Recently I was reading an article which listed the remedies that 19 different people used to fight migraine. Although I wouldn’t recommend all the remedies listed, the article is worth it, just to see the animated gifs! (Check it out – 19 People Dish On The One Thing That Makes Them Feel Better When They Have A Migraine)

MigraventOne of the preventatives certainly deserves a little space here because it has helped a lot of people, and that is Migravent.

Migravent is one of many supplements taken to prevent migraine, although it is one of the more popular ones. It is designed to be taken with food, 2-3 times a day.

The ingredients are mostly well known for their migraine-fighting properties. Riboflavin (vitamin B2), magnesium (oxide and citrate), coenzyme Q10, and butterbur. It also contains piperine (BioPerine), an extract from black pepper, which helps with nutrient absorption (and may also be a mild antidepressant). Migravent is gluten free.

There has been a recent concern with butterbur products, but the company notes that the butterbur has been tested for safety by a 3rd party lab.

Although these ingredients are certainly available in individual supplements, researchers try to find special blends and delivery methods that will have maximum impact. Migravent is one of those products.

As you will see from the reviews on amazon, this product doesn’t help everyone. But the reviews are generally very positive.

As with most supplements like this, I would recommend that you check with your doctor, and keep a headache diary so you know if it’s helping. Usually 90 days is a minimum amount of time to see if something like this is really making a difference.

Have you tried Migravent? If so, leave a comment with your experiences.

Read more about Migravent here.


An Upcoming Documentary about Cluster: Clusterheads

It’s likely one of the most painful conditions known, and there’s no cure, and limited treatment. Cluster headache (CH), often nicknamed “suicide headache”, has tragically earned its moniker again and again.

Cluster sufferers, sometimes known as clusterheads, experience truly debilitating cycles of severe symptoms that can be life-destroying. And a new documentary now in production, created by two people who themselves suffer from cluster, is attempting to bring the reality of cluster to a wider audience.

Interview from Clusterheads

Cluster headache – like a knife in the head

Watch the new trailer below, and then see the links for more information on the documentary and cluster in general.


Serotonin Syndrome: Are Triptan Users Really at Risk?

Back in 2006, the FDA in the USA issued a warning about using triptan medications along with certain antidepressants because of the risk of serotonin syndrome. But how high is the risk? New studies suggest that the risk is extremely low, and that thousands have been mixing the medications with no problem.

What is the concern?

Serotonin syndrome can be serious, even fatal. It is caused by excessive accumulation of serotonin, and important neurotransmitter, in the body. Some medications and herbs have been associated with the problem, the idea being that they work to cause runaway levels.

This includes triptans, commonly used for migraine, and certain antidepressants – selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and selective serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

There has been some suggestion that triptans alone could lead, in rare cases, to serotonin syndrome.

This is an important question, because many migraine patients also suffer from depression. And to be clear, for most migraine doctors, this was a “use with caution” warning, not a prohibition.

Re-evaluating the Research

Just because there is a “risk” doesn’t mean you should avoid something. Just because you have a “risk” of falling down the stairs, doesn’t mean you avoid stairs.

So here’s the question – just how high is the risk?

Researchers in Houston in the USA went back to check out the original research that the FDA had in 2006. They found that the evidence should not have been considered sufficient for the FDA warning. The evidence was “Class IV” – the lowest possible level. (See the abstract here: The FDA alert on serotonin syndrome)

Another study, presented at the 59th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Headache Society, provided even more reason to question the warning. Over 14 years, about 19,000 patients who used both triptans and SSRI or SNRI antidepressants were evaluated – and between 4 and 7 patients developed serotonin syndrome. That’s about a 0.03% risk.

Of those patients, how serious was their condition, and do we even know for sure that it was caused by the medications? Serotonin syndrome, although it can be serious, usually is not fatal.

Of those patients, only two cases were related to triptan medications. And in one of the cases, the symptoms started before the patient took the triptan!

In the end, one of the researchers said simply,“Our data do not suggest a clinically meaningful risk of serotonin syndrome in patients coprescribed triptans with SSRI/SSNI antidepressants.”

Read more about this report: Triptans, Antidepressants, and Serotonin Syndrome: How Real Is the Risk?


From these studies, it seems that with regular use of triptans and antidepressants, the risk is almost nil. However, because of the seriousness of serotonin syndrome, patients should be aware and should report new symptoms to their doctor. It is also important to remember that there is concern about “street drugs”, taking more than is prescribed, and certain supplements such as St. John’s wort and ginseng. Your doctor needs to be aware of what other drugs and supplements you’re taking.

For more information on the drugs that have caused concern, see Serotonin Syndrome: Symptoms and causes.

via: Triptans (like Imitrex) mix well with antidepressants


The Link between Skin Rashes and Migraine

If you suffer from both skin rashes and migraine, you’re not alone. And there may be an important connection between the two which we need to research.

Psoriasis (the “p” is silent) is a common skin disease, probably affecting about 1-2% of the population. There are various types of psoriasis, but it often shows up as red, scaly patches of skin. It can also show up in nails, or even as stiff joints. It flares up at various times, and can be either a small annoyance or a major condition.
Migraine, Psoriasis, and Heart Disease
Psoriasis can run in families, but it can also be brought on through an infection, obesity, and smoking.

A recent study in Italy found that people with psoriasis, women especially, were extremely likely to also suffer from migraine. Most often this was migraine with aura, but migraine without aura showed up very often as well.

Why the connection, and why should we care? Well, researchers suspect a biological relationship between the two, but further research will need to be done. Migraine is often associated with autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis, so in a way this isn’t a surprise.

But perhaps the biggest concern that researchers had is the link between both psoriasis and migraine – and heart diseases. Psoriasis itself, and perhaps even some of its treatments, can significantly increase the risk of high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and stroke, for example. Migraine also increases your risk of cardiovascular disease. So having both may increase your risk even further.

Be sure you tell your doctor if you notice symptoms of psoriasis. There are helpful treatments. You may want to especially consider having some good tests done on your levels of vitamin D. Omega-3 supplements may also be helpful for both migraine and psoriasis. You will also want to take a look at your risk of heart disease (read Migraine and Heart Disease: 7 Critical Things to Know Now).

There are a wide variety of treatments for psoriasis, as there are for migraine. Your doctor will help you decide which are best for you. Being aware of both diseases will help you assess symptoms and find treatments that work.

For more information: