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Migraine associated with gastrointestinal disorders: A pathophysiological explanation

Majid Talafi Noghani, Hasan Namdar
Medical Hypotheses 2019, 125: 90-93

BACKGROUND: Migraine is a highly prevalent, disabling, and costly disorder worldwide. From a long time ago, headaches have been known to be associated with gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. Headaches originating from gastric complaints were appreciated by Persian Medicine (PM) scholars. Today, functional GI disorders are shown to have high comorbidity with migraines; however, a causal relationship is not accepted today and pathophysiological explanations for this comorbidity are scarce. Therefore, based on the PM philosophy and the existing evidence, we aimed to propose an explanation for the co-morbidity of migraine and GI disorders.

SUMMARY: Noxious stimuli from the GI tract are relayed to the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) in the brain stem, which is located close to the trigeminal nucleus caudalis (TNC). TNC has shown projections to (NTS) through which frequent GI stimuli may antidromically reach the TNC and finally result in neurogenic inflammation. In addition, immune products, particularly histamine, are released in the submucosa of the GI tract and absorbed into the systemic circulation, which renders migraineurs more prone to attacks.


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