In search of the ideal treatment for migraine headache

Med Hypotheses. 1998 Jan;50(1):1-7. doi: 10.1016/s0306-9877(98)90170-0.


Migraine headache is a common syndrome, afflicting millions, that has so far defied a definitive cure. Experimental research studies of the syndrome tend to describe the triggering factors separately. We propose a common denominator--namely, high levels of blood lipids and free fatty acids--as underlying factor in the development of migraine headaches. Biological states that may cause increases in free fatty acids and blood lipids include: high dietary fat intake, obesity, insulin resistance, vigorous exercise, hunger, consumption of alcohol, coffee, and other caffeinated beverages, oral contraceptives, smoking, and stress. Elevated blood lipids and free fatty acids are associated with increased platelet aggregability, decreased serotonin, and heightened prostaglandin levels. These changes lead to the vasodilatation that precedes migraine headache. We suggest that migraine headache should not be seen as an isolated symptom, but as a first signal of potential biochemical imbalances in the body, which can lead to development of chronic disease.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Coffee
  • Contraceptives, Oral
  • Dietary Fats
  • Exercise
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hunger
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Lipids / blood
  • Migraine Disorders / blood
  • Migraine Disorders / etiology*
  • Migraine Disorders / therapy*
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Stress, Psychological


  • Coffee
  • Contraceptives, Oral
  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Lipids