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Life Extension Magazine January 2014
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Control Underlying Factors Behind Migraines

By Stephen Grant

Summary

Migraine headaches are common, affecting 18% of American women and 6% of men.55 They rank near the top of disorders that cause debilitation and loss of work or recreational time.55 And mainstream medicine has yet to find a safe, long-term way to prevent migraines before they begin.56

Two natural substances, gastrodin and magnesium, have shown efficacy in preventing and sometimes treating migraine headaches. Both work to improve brain blood flow, which is decreased at the beginning of a migraine attack.13,24,28,31,37 Both also act in specific (but different) ways to increase brain concentrations of the calming neurotransmitter GABA, while reducing the impact of the excitatory, potentially damaging neurotransmitter glutamate.11,12,14,27,28,35,37

These two natural compounds act in similar ways to the desired effects of the anti-epileptic drugs now in widespread use in migraine treatment, and for good reason.12,14,44 Anti-epileptic drugs lower excitatory glutamate levels while boosting calming GABA levels, similar to gastrodin and magnesium. The downside to these drugs, however, are side effects that decrease their usefulness in the long-term.8-10

If you suffer from migraine headaches, gastrodin formulations and magnesium have been shown to calm the brain, reduce dangerous levels of excitotoxicity, and minimize or eliminate migraine headaches.12,27,28,30,39,40,54-56 This is especially important as we learn how much migraines have in common with debilitating disorders such as strokes and dementia—and how greatly migraines raise your risk for those conditions.1-5,7

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.

How Anti-Epileptic Drugs Mitigate Migraines
How Anti-Epileptic Drugs Mitigate Migraines

Migraine headaches and epileptic seizures share many clinical and biochemical features.2,7 They both occur in unpredictable episodes, though the onset of individual attacks may be preceded by a warning aura. Within the brain, both involve an imbalance between neuronal excitation and inhibition, with excitation coming out on top and explaining most of the symptoms.2

These similarities have led many physicians to use anti-epileptic drugs “off-label,” to attempt to prevent migraine headaches.8-10,60 Three drugs in particular, valproic acid, gabapentin, and topiramate, are heavily used in this fashion.

All of these drugs act by increasing concentrations of the neurotransmitter GABA, which has a calming, inhibitory effect on the brain. These and other drugs also appear to reduce concentrations of excitatory glutamate, further restoring a normal balance.9

But all anti-epileptic drugs have serious side effects that become increasingly likely with long-term use.8,10 In 2008, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning that all anti-epileptic drugs are associated with increased risk of suicidal ideation and behavior.8

Fortunately, gastrodin and magnesium, two natural substances, act on similar biochemical pathways as anti-epileptic drugs to quell excitation and promote brain cell relaxation in migraine sufferers.11,12,14,27,28,35,37

References

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