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Why are There So Many Migraine Headache Triggers?

Posted Sep 13 2008 1:25am
I've had a number of clients with migraines who are trying to understand why there are so many different triggers for migraine headaches and how neurofeedback can help even if they don't stop avoiding those triggers.

This is one of the ways I explain the experience of getting migraines.

Triggers

A large number of triggers for migraine headache have been identified:

- Emotional stress
- Barometric weather changes
- Menstrual hormone changes
- Sleep problems
- Food sensitivities
- Light glare
- etc.
- etc.

Most migraineurs are bothered by several of these triggers, not just one. If you get migraines, you'll likely have a sense of which are the worst for you.

"Triggers" are not the same as a "cause"

That such a wide variety of events can trigger a headache tells us that the underlyingcauseof the migraine is none of the above.Most current research suggests instead that migraines reflectan underlying instabilityof the central nervous system.

It makes sense, then, that if the brain is unstable in some way, then it may be susceptible to being "thrown off" by any number of things. The more "off-balance" it is, the more triggers a person may be susceptible to.

But what do I mean by "unstable"?

What itdoesn'tmean is emotionally unbalanced, ready to fall apart, or any of the other negative ways this term has been used.

What Idomean is that the brain, in particular its control of the circulatory system, is "on the edge".

Think of walking on a balance beam or a curb. You feel a bit unsteady, right? Now, what if someone came and gave you a little push? Oops - you might need to stop and regain your balance or you might fall right off. The more instability of the brain, the narrower that "ledge" will be and the more likely you are to "fall off" -- and get the migraine headache.

A "stable" brain is both stable and flexible. So if something gives it a "push" (think "trigger"), it self-corrects and carries on.

So I hope you can see why any number of things that can stress the body: diet, poor sleep, the environment, emotional stress, etc. can push the migraine brain "over the edge" into a headache.

Neurofeedback
, in the short version , helps the brain become more resilient and able to resist the triggers, resulting in fewer and less severe headaches.

In a future post, I'll continue on to explain more about what creates the pain of migraine.
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