Zembrace SymTouch: A Surprising Advance in Migraine Treatment

Once I start telling you about Zembrace Symtouch, which was approved by the FDA last year, you’re going to wonder why in the world it’s newsworthy in this world of new frontiers in migraine treatment. There are simply a lot of reasons not to like Zembrace – at first glance. But it just might surprise you, as it surprised me.

So with all the new treatment options out there, what if I told you that this new treatment is an injection, and worse, that it’s a retooling of an old migraine treatment – a triptan – the oldest triptan on the block – sumatriptan. Even worse, I’m going to tell you that the injection will give you less of the medicine than many have tried in the past.

See? I just lost half my audience. “I hate injections”“I already tried sumatriptan”“I need something stronger”

But for all the open-minded people who are still here, let’s take a closer look.

Zembrace SymtouchFor many people, taking an injection for migraine is like eating brussell sprouts is for me. I know it’s good for me, but it just ain’t happening. We know that migraine needs to be treated quickly, and medically speaking injections are an excellent way to get the medication quickly.

But more than that, many migraine patients suffer from forms of gastric stasis, which means that pills simply won’t get the medication into your system properly. So if you’ve tried triptans by the oral method and they haven’t worked, you may find that it’s just because they weren’t properly absorbed.

And when it comes to injections, Zembrace really is cutting edge. It comes in the form of a “pen”, single use, with the exact amount of medication you need built in. It also has the thinnest needle of all autoinjectors.

It’s so easy to use, it’s very hard to make a mistake. It’s quick, taking only a few seconds, and will get the medication working within 10 minutes (yes, some people actually start experiencing pain relief that quickly).

As regular readers know, a different triptan, or even a different “version” of the same triptan, can make all the difference. So it’s not surprising when someone who has tried sumatriptan before without success tries it again in a different formulation and finds that it works.

What is surprising is the dosage of Zembrace. Originally, sumatriptan was marketed in a 6mg dose. 4mg has been available for a while. But – 3mg?

Actually, studies have compared the 6mg dosage with the 3mg dosage. The results are not only comparable – in some cases, 3mg even performed better. And the patient may experience less side effects with the lower dosage (see notes below).

So Zembrace is worth a look if you suffer from migraine or cluster headache. Not only because it is easy to use and uses the best technology for treatment of its kind, but also because it may lead to more similar medications in the future.

Check out Zembrace Symtouch at the official website here.

Further reading:


“Out of My Head” is almost here – Have You Seen the New Trailer?

If you haven’t seen it already, don’t miss the new trailer for Out of My Head, a documentary about migraine that has been a long time in the making. The film, from filmakers Susanna Styron and Jacki Ochs, is currently scheduled to launch this fall.

Out of My Head was partly funded through Kickstarter – you can see “>the promotional trailer for that here as well.

The film promises to show aspects such as the history of migraine suffering, the economic cost, and the disabling nature of the disease, as well as personal stories and “a spotlight on the frontiers of neuroscience and the exploration of the brain”.

Check out the trailer below, and visit the official Out of My Head website here.


Glutamate Levels Higher in People with Migraine

Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that everyone needs, but its link with migraine has become well-known. It’s not surprising that there’s a connect – glutamate transmits pain signals in the body. And now we have more evidence that glutamate levels in the brain are higher in people with migraine.

BrainGlutamate has been a big topic in the world of migraine genetics, because genetic variants related to migraine may lead to a build-up of glutamate in nerve cell junctions in the brain. Many treatmente available or being developed for migraine today may affect glutamate messages in the body. This would include treatments focused on calcium channels (such as Verapamil) and the new CGRP inhibitors.

Glutamate may be a culprit in a number of disorders other than migraine – including Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis (MS), and autism.

It may seem obvious that a pain transmitter would be higher when someone has a severe headache. But this study says something a little different.

Published in July in the neurological journal Brain, researches discovered that glutamate levels were higher in the brains of people with migraine – specifically in the visual cortex. Surprisingly, that was specifically in migraineurs without aura.

But the most interesting fact of all was that these were interictal levels. In other words, the glutamate was higher in migraineurs than in the general population in between attacks – when no headache was present.

Could this be related to the higher “excitability” of the migraine brain, and why we’re more prone to headaches? The researchers think so.

To read more about the study, see the abstract here: Cortical glutamate in migraine

A lot of research is being done to see how various treatments, exercise, and even diet could improve glutamate levels. But the answer is not simple, because glutamate levels are a part of a complex web of activity in the brain. But studies like this are giving us a better understanding of migraine, and giving us more evidence that glutamate plays a key role.

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

Here we are again – it’s time to see the posts that have been most popular with our visitors over the past 3 months. Here they are, with the most popular first (in case you get absorbed and don’t make it further down the list!). Also, the three in bold were the most popular on Facebook.

  1. The Low Tyramine Diet for Migraine – Is it time to rethink it?
  2. New Migraine Medication Ready to Apply to the FDA for Release
  3. Pulsed Shortwave (Electromagnetic) Therapy For Headache Pain
  4. New Drug-free Device for Migraine Tested
  5. Migraine and TMD: A Complex Relationship (that should not be ignored)
  6. Yes, it matters which Magnesium supplement you use…
  7. Earplugs for Weather Migraine?
  8. More Positive Results from the CGRP Migraine Treatments
  9. New Study Suggests that Botox is working for Chronic Migraine, but …
  10. In Search of a Simpler Botox Treatment

Migraine and Mitochondrial Disorders

We’ve talked before about the relationship between migraine and mitochondrial disorders (see Fight Migraine: Be nice to your Mitochondria. Not only commonly known mitochondrial diseases, but also disorders related to mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), have a strong relationship to migraine.

Migraine and mitochondrial disordersThese include gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome, and problems like gastric stasis (a challenging problem in migraine because your medication isn’t properly absorbed).

Many people with mitochondrial disorders do have migraine – but is this really a higher amount than the general population? An Italian study published earlier this month says “yes”.

93 patients were a part of the study, each with a mitochondrial disorder, such as progressive external ophthalmoplegia (a condition causing weakness in the eye muscles), myoclonic epilepsy with ragged red fibres (a condition typically causing muscle twitches, weakness, and progressive stiffness), and mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, lactic acidosis and stroke-like episodes (with symptoms such as muscle weakness and pain, headaches and seizures).

35.5% of these patients had migraine. That’s well over the numbers typically cited for the general population – about 15%. Most commonly, this was migraine without aura.

There were a few other interesting notes. Patients with epilepsy, stroke-like episodes, and myoclonus (muscle jerking) were more likely to have migraine. However, migraine patients were less likely to experience muscle weakness, or to have abnormalities in EEGs.

There is increasing interest in how problems with the mitochondria may affect our health. And now we have more evidence that migraine may be related to those problems.

Read the study abstract here: Migraine in mitochondrial disorders: Prevalence and characteristics