A headache can come on at any time and for a number of reasons. People who suffer from migraines or chronic severe headaches, however, experience much more complicated symptoms that are often debilitating. Aside from pain, migraines often bring on nausea, vomiting, light and sounds sensitivity and also visual disturbances called ‘migraine with aura’ (MA). MA can present as blind spots, floaters or flashes of light. A number of studies have implicated genes such as MTHFR in migraine headaches so this is of particular importance to us.
Migraines and other forms of primary headache are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, with MTHFR, KCNK18, TRPV1, TRPV3 and HCRTR being cited as the major genes influencing the condition. MTHFR C677T is the most studied in relation to migraines. The categorization of a migraine as a vascular disorder brings MTHFR to prominence and migraines are related to “stroke, myocardial infarction, hypertension and Raynaud’s phenomenon.” Elevated homocysteine, a frequent feature for those with MTHFR C677T, disrupts the inner lining of the nerves and blood vessels, which can contribute to migraines. It also produces neurotoxic effects and hyperexcitability in the brain’s neurons. One of the linked studies found that lowering homocysteine through vitamin supplementation reduced migraine disability.
MTHFR also affects the characteristics of migraine symptoms. A Russian study found that “the ТТ genotype was associated with migraine with aura and unilateral headache, the СТ genotype was associated with physical activity discomfort and stress as a migraine trigger.” The researchers also found a difference in symptoms between men and women. Male TT patients were more prone to bilateral headaches while the females with CT experienced symptoms of nausea and odor aversion more frequently. Both TT and CT patients were much more sensitive to migraine triggers than CC patients.
If you suffer from migraines there is strong evidence that managing your homocysteine level by addressing your MTHFR mutations can reduce the severity of your headaches.
Do you suffer from migraines? Has treating MTHFR helped?