Migraine and Dopamine

After the common cold, headaches could easily count as one of the most common things to trouble humanity. There are of course many kinds of headaches, and I don’t mean people are causing you one. A migraine is a result of changes that take place in the brain. It can cause severe pain and is often accompanied by sensitivity to light, sound and even smell. Complainants tell stories of how it occurs on one side of the head. The triggers of a migraine can be hormonal change, stress, food and strong smells. If you suffer from one, you know it is not a pleasant experience.

An exciting linkage that is increasingly being explored by researchers is dopamine and migraines. Dopamine, as you know, is the feel-good neurotransmitter. A team at the University of Michigan measured the levels of dopamine in people with and without migraine attacks. They found that people with a seizure had significantly lower levels of dopamine. When the migraine attack dissipated, dopamine levels went back to normal. Dopamine is interestingly also the neurotransmitter that controls sensory sensitivity. What this means is that low dopamine levels can amplify the sense of pain from your muscles and blood vessels.

This link between dopamine and migraine is being used to treat or prevent attacks. This effect is achieved by using dopamine antagonists (an antidopaminergic) or a drug that blocks dopamine receptors. In particular, something called a prokinetic agent which is a type of dopamine antagonist can be used to prevent the occurrence which would be sweet heaven to anyone who has to spend hours and even days suffering from the consequences of an attack. It is believed that stressful situations are possibly one of the leading triggers of migraine attacks. Here is hoping that the stress in your life remains within your capacity to tolerate it.


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.

One thought on “Migraine and Dopamine

  • November 21, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    Hi Ritesh!
    Asish has been off late since September got two migraine attacks. First one was really bad as we couldn’t figure out until we came back from our holiday that he had a migraine attack. Now the doctor has prescribed him vasograin twice a day for three days if he feels it coming on .

    Do you suggest any other method by which we could avoid it or cure it .

    From what I found common amongst the two attacks were his lack of good sleep a night before and not complete exposure but partial exposure to sunlight and a cold coming on .

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