Imbalance in Brain
May Cause Migraine
Excerpt By Will Boggs, MD, Reuters Health
YORK (Reuters Health) - Abnormalities in the way the brain's pain
control center handles iron may lead to the development of migraine
attacks and headaches, according to a study by Kansas researchers.
a portion of the brain known as the periaqueductal gray matter
(PAG) may fail to ``switch on'' to prevent pain, Dr. K. Michael
Welch of the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City
told Reuters Health.
a trigger such as stress activates the PAG but it does not switch
on because it is dysfunctional,'' he explained, ``or else switches
on an abnormal part.''
``Pain instead of no pain,'' according to Welch.
His team studied
levels of iron in the PAG of patients with either migraine headaches
or recurrent, non-migraine headaches and compared them to levels
in people without headache or migraine.
iron levels can reflect changes in the way the cells of the PAG
work, the authors pointed out.
to the report, published in a recent issue of the journal Headache,
iron levels in the PAG were significantly increased in patients
with migraine and those with headache compared to the headache-free
In fact, the
researchers pointed out, the longer patients had experienced headaches,
the higher the iron levels in the PAG were, though iron levels
at the beginning of their illness were still clearly higher than
iron levels may be both a cause of migraine attacks and a result
of repeated headaches, the investigators noted.
believe that the increased (iron levels) in our migraine groups
reflect impaired iron (balance), possibly associated with (nerve)
dysfunction or damage,'' the authors concluded.
the PAG abnormality is essential to the cause of the headache
in migraine,'' Welch said. ``The gradual deposition of iron increases
dysfunction, and headaches coalesce from episodic to continuous.''
might one minimize the damage from increased iron stores? Welch
advised, ``Treat episodes quickly and prevent (attacks) whenever
Reference Source 89
For more information on how to prevent other diseases, use