you. Otherwise, feel free to sing this post in the above mentioned melody. You could also run the video in the background while you read.
Probably like most migrainuers, when suffering from pulsating head pain I was always trying to figure out
what was different about me that gave me these horrible headaches. I am certain, since all the neuroscientists out there haven't quite got a grasp on it, that a little nurse in Oklahoma can get it figured out on her own (that is
sarcasm of course).
Migraines are way to complex for the answer to lie simply in prostaglandins, but in my search for my
issue I found lots of research on migraines and prostaglandins out there. So, below are some question and answers about prostaglandins in my attempt to fill in some gaps about their relationship to
migraines. This information might also be interesting if you take aspirin or any other anti-inflammatory product that is similar in therapeutic action.
Hmmmm, what is a Prostaglandin?
They are a group of lipid compounds derived from fatty acids. They are not endocrine hormones, but
are autocrine or paracrine which are locally acting messengers. This means instead of being made in one gland and secreted through the blood stream to travel through the body to their destination, they are made in all
kinds of tissues and their targets are located near the area where they are secreted.
Hmmm, what is Cyclooxygenase?
Cyclooxygenase is an enzyme that starts the chemical reaction to make a prostaglandin. There are two kinds of cyclooxygenase. The first one produces your baseline amount of prostaglandins. The second cyclooxygenase responds in the case of an injury to produce extra prostaglandins.
Here is my rough illustration for the chemistry involved:)
1. They regulate the contraction and relaxation of vascular smooth muscle (hmmmm...like tissue making up the
wall of a blood vessel, those things that are pulsating in my head and making it throb).
2. They influence clotting ability through aggregation of platelets.
3. They activate the inflammatory response, producing pain and fever.
4. They cause uterine contractions (hmmmm...they increase during female cycles).
5. They inhibit acid production and increase protective mucous in the intestines.
6. They increase blood flow to the kidneys.
7. They cause bronchi constriction associated with asthma.
I have had several personal experiences along my migraine path that made me interested in prostaglandin
1. I was prescribed 350 mg of aspirin (Hmmmm...aspirin inhibits prostaglandin production) a day by one of my Dr.'s as part of my treatment.
2. Female cycles are linked to migraines. When the cycle begins prostaglandins increase causing the
uterus to contract accompanied by pain.
3. Women also experience digestive issues associated with this increase in prostaglandins during their cycle because they also have a contractility and motility effect on the smooth muscle of the digestive tract. (Hmmmm...wondering if this might also be an issue with abdominal migraines as I was blessed with these as well).
4. I had many a migraine where I went to bed completely fine and woke in the middle of the night out of a dead sleep with a migraine. This confused me because really what is so stressful about a deep sleep? (Hmmmm...prostaglandins increase during Rem sleep and early morning).
Hmmmm...how might Prostaglandins be causing me a headache?
1. Triggers related to migraine: menstruation, alcohol, stress, dietary reactions, hormonal influences, and sleep alterations all have some connections with the prostaglandin system. (Abstract: Relevence of prostaglandins in migraine study).
2. A specific prostaglandin, PGE1, has been shown to simulate a migraine attack in healthy volunteers.
(Abstract: Relevence of prostaglandins in migraine study)
3. PGE's have been shown to be elevated in patients with migraine. (Abstract: for PGE2 inducing migraines in patients without aura)
4. PGE's cause vasodilation and hyperalgesia, an increased sensitivity to pain. (Information related to neuronal pathway for hyperalgesia)
5. Studies have shown that low concentrations of PGE1 potentiate vasoconstriction and increased PGE1
concentrations produced vasodilation. (Abstract: Prostaglandins and Migraine)
6. Prostaglandin synthesis in blood vessel walls was stimulated by prolactin (levels peak during REM sleep and early morning) and serotonin (highest levels are when we are awake and active and nonexistent during REM sleep) explaining the association of migraine with sleep. (Article on prostaglandins and sleep-wake
Hmmmm...how do pain and some migraine drugs effect prostaglandins?
Various migraine treatment drugs: propranolol, amitriptyline, and caffeine are prostaglandin antagonists (work against or inhibit). They believe this to be due to their membrane stabilizing properties. Many of them (anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen) work to block cyclooxygenase (remember from above, it starts the chemical reaction to make prostaglandins). By blocking the production of prostaglandins these products relieve the effects of pain and fever. They also have an impact on clotting and can cause an increase in bleeding, which can be a problem for many people.
This is all so very interesting and quite frankly makes me go....hmmmm!