Migraine Surgery Alternative Sought in Chilis

May 3, 2013

Texans love the chili pepper—it’s no secret, really! With traditional Mexican fare a big part of the cultural landscape, chilies can be found in the obvious enchiladas and huevos rancheros.  But if you suffer with migraines in Dallas, you also probably know the chili is a Texan staple in many non-mexican foods as well.  If you are considering treatments, from therapy to migraine surgery, you might be interested to know how this food might reduce migraine pain as well.

It seems that the brain reacts to the chili in much the same way that it reacts to the cause of a migraine.  When scientists rubbed capsaicin (the substance in the chili that gives it that kick) oil onto skin, the same biochemical events occurred that take place during a migraine.  Next time you are experiencing a migraine in Dallas, think about how eating a chili-laden burrito could be affecting your body chemistry in the same way! 

The applied capsaicin triggers the release of calcitonin gene-related peptides (CGRP), which in turn increase blood flow to the region.  The consequence is pain in the spot on which the oil was rubbed.  When researchers from the biologics company Amgen injected their experimental drug into the same spot, the CGRP was effectively blocked from the receptors, which would complete the pain circuitry.  Similarly, a migraine surgery procedure like neurostimulation, works to stop a migraine by blocking pain receptors. 

According to Bloomberg News which reported this story, several biotechnology companies are working on developing a migraine specific biologic drug that could block these chemicals that transmit migraine pain signals.   At this time, many drugs that are prescribed for migraines also pose an elevated risk for unpleasant and even serious side effects.  Individuals with chronic migraines and certain pre-existing health conditions may not even be able to take these drugs at all.  For these individuals a migraine surgery procedure may prove to be the best solution.  Dallas migraineurs will most likely be very optimistic at this point to realize that their beloved chili may indeed prove to be the key for an alternative treatment in the future.


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