OTC Remedies
Symptoms Herbal/Alternative Therapy
Causes References

By: Harley Hunner, Kerry McNierney, and Anthony Apodaca


The exact causes of migraine headaches are complex and not fully understood. One theory is that fibers surrounding blood vessels in the brain release chemicals causing the blood vessels to dilate and constrict. Another theory describes the condition to be caused by spasms of the brain's blood vessels constricting the blood vessels and limiting blood flow to the brain. Once the spasm is over the blood vessels relax and dilate, giving the sensation of pain. A third theory is that brain neuron activity causes a nervous reaction through out the brain stem. The trigeminal nerve is the first to be affected, causing afferent neurons from meninges and blood vessels to pass impulses to secondary neurons. For people experiencing a migraine, once the secondary neurons are activated and sensitized they continue to stay sensitized.

Last updated July 20, 2004
For more information contact Dr. Mary O'Connell at moconnel@nmsu.edu