Let’s talk about Migraine and the Nervous system. Today we are going to Talk about all of the OTHER symptoms of migraine.
Now we know that migraine is a moderate to severe headache on one or both sides of the head with light (do you always wear a hat or sunglasses or keep the curtains closed?) and noise sensitivity (do you cringe when the kids talk loud or the dog barks?) and/or nausea or vomiting (sometimes people just notice upset stomach or lack of appetite or heart burn from the gastroparesis that occurs).
We also know that many people experience constipation, dizziness, palpitations, general feelings of being unwell, foggy cognition, emotional changes, increases and decreases in urination, changes to vision, and many more symptoms. Here is some reasons why. When you have a migraine, you are in the prodrome, aura, ictal, or post drome phase (thats the "migraine is starting", your "in the middle of the worst of it", and "its over but I feel hung over" stages). The entire process can be a day or last up to 5 days. During that time different parts of the autonomic nervous system are triggered.
How do you feel today?
Over the next weeks we will look at this in more depth.
Migraine can affect the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Here is a little info on the ANS.
Autonomic nervous system has 3 parts and regulates your involuntary processes such as heat rate, blood pressure, breathing, digestion and sexual arousal.
Sympathetic nervous system- “Fight or flight”. When activated causes enlarged pupils so that you can see better, increases your heart rate, breathing and blood pressure. Decreases digestion.
Problems: When over or continuously activated such as in long term stress people will experience arrhythmias, diabetes mellites II, constipation, IBS, dizziness, orthostatic hypotension, sexual dysfunction, gastroparesis, dysphagia (problems swallowing).
Parasympathetic nervous system- “Rest and digest.” This system will lower the heart rate, trigger the pancreas to release insulin so that blood sugars can be used by the cells, relax the digestive tract, increase waste release and urination, produce saliva and tears, constrict pupils.
Enteric nervous system- “Go with your Gut.” It is the system of 100 million neurons that control motor functions, blood flow, immune and endocrine functions of the entire digestive tract from esophagus to rectum.
Problems: When there are problems in the GI tract such as pain, IBS, constipation, bacterial imbalance, diarrhea etc, it can cause anxiety and depression. It can also trigger migraines.
Most migraineurs have a deficiency of the enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO). This is the enzyme responsible for the breakdown of histamine.
Histamine intolerance, and histamine diets will be covered separately as it is a full topic on its own. Symptoms of histamine intolerance:
· Headache or migraine
· Nasal congestion
· Eczema, hives
· Digestive problems, nausea, vomiting
· Irregular menstrual periods
· Irregular heart rate
· Irregular blood pressure
· Difficulty regulating body temperature
Costa M, Brookes SJH, Hennig GWAnatomy and physiology of the enteric nervous systemGut 2000;47:iv15-iv19.
Maintz L, et al. (2007). Histamine and histamine intolerance. DOI:
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Allergy skin tests.
Things to discuss with your doctor and what to consider before you start a low-histamine diet. (n.d.).
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