Doctors explain new migraine treatments being used; Chronic migraine suffer responds


     Throbbing headache pain, sensitivity to light, dizziness, nausea:  these are just some of the common symptoms associated with migraines. “Migraines are probably more than one disease,” says neurologist Richard Lipton of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y. As a result, migraine treatments have had limited success in the past.  

     The over 40 identified genes that contribute to the risk of migraine is what makes treating them so difficult. “What that means is that there are multiple pathways that lead to migraine, and as a consequence of that, migraine is not a one-size-fits-all condition,” explains Lipton. 

     Amaal Starling, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona says a migraine is caused by abnormal activity in multiple parts of the brain.

     Senior Abby Merson has suffered with migraines for about six months. “I had bad headaches over the summer which led me to go see a doctor about it,” Merson says. After her anxiety spiked last summer, her migraines have gotten worse. 

     “Ibuprofen never really helped me but I’ve started using essential oils and they work wonders,” she shares. Ibuprofen would only help Merson for about an hour or two but the essential oils help all day as long as she “re-applies” it around lunchtime.

     Doctors have recognized the need for more effective migraine medications. Erenumab, sold as Aimovig, is a newer drug on the market to relieve migraines. It is “one of four monoclonal antibodies that have been approved since 2018 by the FDA” according to MigraineAgain.

     Doctors are encouraging patients to use the new antibody drugs because they can “work better and generally have much fewer side effects than other options,” says neurologist Nina Riggins, a headache specialist at the University of California, San Francisco.

     “It’s really beneficial for improving quality of life in our patients with migraines. [The new drugs] don’t cause weight gain, sleepiness, brain fog,” explains Riggins. 

    According to MigraineAgain, the monoclonal antibodies work by “inhibiting the action of a neurotransmitter called calcitonin gene-related peptide, or CGRP by changing the peptide’s shape or attaching to its receptors in the brain.” 

      These antibodies work to block a brain chemical that leads to migraine headaches. Studies have shown this to be an effective migraine treatment. Almost half of patients who have tried one of the four new antibodies saw a significant reduction in the number of migraines per month explains MigraineAgain. 

     Merson says she would definitely try new migraine treatments. “My doctor recommended me to start out with “natural” ways to help migraines, such as essential oils,” she shares. She thinks that if it is necessary, then she would try something else.