What Causes MigrainesEven though extensive studies have been conducted on the nature of migraines, researchers still lack quite a bit of knowledge on many of the causes of migraines. However, it’s been inferred that environmental and genetic factors are linked to these causes.

Researchers believe that migraines could very well be linked to alterations of the brain stem. Furthermore, these alterations might also affect the trigeminal nerve. This nerve is responsible for transmitting major pain signals. It is also believed that brain chemistry imbalances play a large role in migraines. Specifically, serotonin is suspected to also be altered. Serotonin is responsible for regulating pain.

When a migraine happens, it appears that levels of serotonin plummet. This results in the release of “neuropeptides” from the trigeminal system. These neuropeptides travel to the meninges (outer layer) of the brain. It is believed that this process causes migraine pain.

Migraine Causes

The exact process behind migraines is still being heavily researched, but scientists are more clear about triggers it. These triggers include:

For Women: Hormonal Changes and Medications

Particularly, when estrogen levels fluctuate, headaches can often be the direct result. Women who regularly suffer from migraines are more likely to experience headaches during or just before their periods. This is linked to decreases in estrogen levels. Migraines are also common during menopause and pregnancy. Women should also consider the types of medications they’re taking if they experience migraines. Specifically, hormone replacement therapy and birth control medication can cause migraines.


Processed foods, salty foods, and even aged cheeses have been linked to migraines with research. Fasting and abstaining from eating will also often cause migraines.

Artificial Additives

Monosodium glutamate and aspartame are both additives that can contribute to the onset of migraines.


It has been found that migraines can be caused by alcohol. Wine has been shown to be a major offender.

Extreme Stimulation

Many migraine sufferers have reported migraines setting in while being exposed to sun glare, bright lights, and even loud sounds. This is why symptoms of a migraine often seem to die down when a sufferer retreats to a dark, quiet setting.

Strange Smells

Any smell that is unusual in nature can trigger migraines. These include paint thinners, perfume, cigarette smoke, etc.


Feeling weighed down at home, work, or school can cause a migraine.

Bodily Factors

Exerting the body intensely via labor, exercise, or sexual activity can provoke a migraine.

Disruption of Sleeping Pattern

Any sort of change to a sleep cycle can trigger a migraine. This means oversleeping or missing a few hours. Jet lag has been known to cause migraines.

Environmental Changes

Watch out for barometric pressure shifts and weather changes. These are notorious for instigating migraines.

Medication Prescriptions

Always keep a close eye on medications if migraines are becoming a problem. Vasodilators and birth control are specifically linked to the onset of migraines.