11 mythes sur la migraine : idées reçus et études scientifiques

11 Migraine Myths

Jul 06, 2023

Migraine is a common condition, affecting more than 148 million worldwide. Some data suggest that the prevalence of migraine may be increasing globally. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), migraine is about twice as common in women as in men. Often the first symptom of migraine is a moderate to severe headache , and 85% of migraine sufferers experience stabbing pain . However, for about 60% of people the pain is unilateral, and about 80% of people experience nausea and 30% vomiting . In addition, almost all people with migraine have an increased sensitivity to light (90%) and sound (80%).

Below, we tackle 11 myths associated with migraine . We cover medication, caffeine, nutrition and more.

To dispel these myths, we enlisted the help of three experts:

  • Dr. Vernon Williams is a board-certified sports neurologist and neurologist and director of the Center for Sports Neurology and Pain Medicine at the Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, California.
  • Dr. Medhat Mikhael is a pain specialist and medical director of the nonoperative program at Spine Health Center at Memorial Care Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, CA.
  • Dr. Jennifer McVige is board certified in Pediatric Neurology, Adult and Pediatric Headaches, and Neuroimaging. She is director of the Concussion Center at the DENT Neurologic Institute in Amherst, New York.

Illustration of a brain illustrating pain with colored lightning held between the hands of a man

1. Migraines are not serious

“Most types of migraine are not serious; however, they can be chronic and sometimes debilitating and disabling if not treated adequately,” says Dr. Mikhael.

The authors of a study looking at the impact of migraine on quality of life write that many migraine sufferers “ also experience reduced productivity at work and disruption of family, social and leisure activities .” It should also be noted that not all types of migraine are created equal . "There is a form of migraine called hemiplegic migraine that tends to be familial, associated with neurological symptoms, aura symptoms that precede migraine , and can lead to stroke," says Dr. Mikhael. However, he is quick to point out that hemiplegic migraine, which causes significant weakness or paralysis on one side of the body, is rare and affects approximately 0.01% of the population . In most cases, the paralysis disappears within hours or days; in rare cases, it can last 4 weeks. However, in very rare cases, hemiplegic migraine can lead to lasting paralysis.

2. Migraine is just a headache

This is not true, and it should be noted that not all migraines involve a headache . As Dr. McVige explains, "Migraine is actually a primary headache disorder and is much more than just a headache . In fact, headaches are just one symptom of migraine, and some migraines are not accompanied by headaches at all". According to Dr. Williams, "a migraine is clinically defined as a specific type of headache that more intensely and usually accompanied by symptoms in addition to pain in the head".

"The pain from a migraine can be very intense and interfere with activities of daily living. Like headaches, migraines can be brief and last only a few hours, or the pain can persist for several days."

- Dr. Vernon Williams

According to Dr. Williams, a person with a migraine rather than a headache will experience a combination of the following symptoms:

  • Moderate to severe or throbbing pain that feels like it is engulfing the whole head or moving from side to side of the head.
  • Increased sensitivity to sounds, smells or light.
  • Vision disturbances , including blurring, bright or flashing spots, wavy or jagged lines.
  • Abdominal problems , which may include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or stomach upset.
Dr. Williams also pointed out other differences between migraine and headache . For example, he explained that some people may experience a so-called prodrome phase .
He explained that some migraine sufferers “ may notice subtle changes in their daily routine up to a day or two before the onset of the migraine – a kind of warning period .”

While these changes vary from individual to individual, he says the most common warning signs are "excessive yawning, depression, irritability, and stiff neck." Some migraine sufferers may also experience a migraine aura.

Dr Williams said:

" Migraine aura is a neurological symptom that immediately precedes the headache . It may be visual disturbances (vision of flashing lights or partial loss of vision that gradually extends to the visual field) or other phenomena sensory (numbness or tingling gradually spreading to the face or arm)".
Although these symptoms are a worrying sign that a migraine is imminent, according to Dr. Williams, there is a positive side: "These warning signs allow treatment to be initiated very early in the course of migraine. migraine episode, which greatly improves the chances of successful treatment.Rather than waiting for the pain to set in, Dr. Williams told us that taking the medication as soon as possible has the most effect.

3. Caffeine causes migraines

It's a myth: caffeine doesn't trigger a migraine , but it can be a trigger for some people. The relationship between coffee and migraine is complex. As Dr. Mikhael told us, " Too much caffeine can trigger migraine . However, caffeine, in general, can help relieve headaches , including migraine."
According to Dr. McVige, "Some people find that drinking caffeine at the onset of an attack lessens its intensity and may help relieve some of the pain, but regular use of caffeine as a treatment".
To add an extra level of complexity, Dr. McVige told us that drinking caffeinated beverages can trigger a migraine attack , but "caffeine withdrawal is an even more common migraine trigger." In a recent study on the interaction between caffeine and migraine, the authors concluded:
“Overall, based on our review of the current literature, there is insufficient evidence to recommend caffeine cessation for all migraine patients. However, it is important to emphasize that excessive consumption of caffeine can lead to a chronification of migraine and that a sudden cessation of caffeine can trigger migraine attacks".

4. Headache medication cures migraine

Currently, there is no cure for migraine , but medication can certainly help. "Migraine Medications to prevent migraine episodes and to use " preventive drugs " in the event of an attack".

5. No Medicine Can Relieve Migraine

In no uncertain terms, Dr Mikhael said, "This is a misrepresentation; several drugs are available today to significantly help and control migraine." Dr. McVige listed some medications that can provide migraine relief, including over-the-counter pain relievers, triptans, calcitonin gene receptor peptide (CGRP) antagonists, gepants, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and beta- blockers. There are also effective non-pharmaceutical options.
"The most important thing anyone can do to avoid migraine triggers is to regulate their lifestyle by making healthy choices." - Dr. Williams

"By getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night, drinking 8 glasses of water a day, nourishing your body with healthy foods, and eliminating additional sources of stress as much as possible , you are putting your body on the fast track to recovery. 'raised migraine threshold.' This means your risk of developing a migraine is reduced, even when you are exposed to a known trigger. Dr. Williams also told us that adopting a healthy lifestyle could eventually "eliminate the need for prescription headache medication."

This is good news because, as Dr. McVige explained, "medications can also (ironically) cause headaches themselves , in a phenomenon called 'medication overuse headaches', if the rescue medication is taken too often". Check out our article on migraine complications .

Dr. Williams also explained that "there are many prescription medication options that are very effective at reducing the frequency of migraines (so-called prophylactic medications) and others that can stop a migraine in its tracks. If you think suffer from migraines, it is worth seeing a doctor who can confirm the diagnosis and work out a treatment plan with you .”

6. You Can't Diagnose Migraine Without Imaging

According to Dr Mikhael, this is a " misrepresentation ". Migraine is a clinical diagnosis that does not require imaging to confirm . Imaging is only indicated if symptoms are unclear or if there are neurological symptoms or warning signs. This is when imaging is warranted to rule out pathology."
“There is no specific test to diagnose migraines,” Dr. McVige said. "To make an accurate diagnosis, a physician must identify a pattern of recurring headaches along with associated symptoms that persist for at least three months."

7. I can't take migraine medication if I'm pregnant.

"Migraine medications, such as triptans , are relatively safe during pregnancy , especially after the first trimester," Dr. Mikhael said. " Acetaminophen is also safe, but some seizure-preventing medications should be avoided due to the risk of pregnancy termination or birth defects."
Dr. McVige explains in more detail: "Before becoming pregnant, it is important for women to discuss their migraine treatment plan with their doctor : "Before becoming pregnant, it is important for women to discuss with their doctor their migraine treatment plan, whether they take over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, or both."
" Some are strictly prohibited , while others can be resumed after the critical first trimester. Non-invasive wearable devices are particularly attractive for pregnant women, as they are highly effective and have virtually no side effects. sustainable."

8. If I'm on a "migraine diet," my migraine will never come back.

Although there is one diet today that is said to cure all ailments, not all of them are effective or backed by evidence. As for the so-called migraine diet, Dr. Mikhael is not convinced. He explains that while " eating a healthy diet and avoiding certain types of foods that trigger migraines can eliminate triggering episodes ," other factors must be considered.
For example, the migraine diet cannot address " lack of sleep ,stress , or hormonal changes."
In summary, avoiding known triggers can reduce migraine risk , but diet is not a cure.

9. Supplements Can Cure Migraine

In an interview, Dr. Mikhael succinctly refuted this myth, explaining that it is not "an exact statement or fact; supplements can help alleviate migraine or prevent its onset , but they won't cure it ". As stated earlier, migraine is incurable, but certain supplements may help prevent it in some people. Dr McVige said "Supplements, such as magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin B2, are an important addition to the migraine treatment market, but there is no evidence that any one vitamin or supplement can help prevent or relieve migraine in everyone. They help some people tremendously and don't do much for others. This variable response is similar to that of pharmaceutical drugs."
The only dietary supplement that has proven effectiveness in relieving migraine isHERBA MIG to be discovered at the Naturveda laboratory.

10. In the absence of aura, it is not a migraine.

This is not the case. In fact, according to Dr. Mikhael, "most migraines are aura-free." According to the Migraine Trust, 10 to 30 percent of migraine sufferers have an aura .

11. Researchers gave up studying migraine

"This is totally untrue," said Dr. Mikhael, "researchers have never given up and will never give up, <...> several major research efforts are underway to study the pathophysiology of migraine and new treatment options".
The INSERM Neuro-Dol laboratory in Clermont-Ferrand (Auvergne) specializes in the study of migraine

"Certainly not! Dr. McVige replied with equal vigor: "There are <...> innovations all the time in the field of migraine , especially over the last four years. Recently, neuromodulation devices have appeared on the market. A new device from Theranica, called Nerivio, has received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance for the treatment of acute migraine . "The device is controlled by a smartphone and worn discreetly on the upper arm , for a treatment of 45 minutes".

According to Dr. McVige, the device "changes pain signals in the brain and is a good alternative to medication ". She concludes, "We are always finding ways to try to deliver the therapy without exposing people to negative side effects.


Migraine can be unpleasant and significantly affect daily life. However, there are pharmaceutical interventions that can help. Additionally, changes in diet and lifestyle can ease symptoms and reduce the frequency of migraines. By continuing their research, scientists are certain to identify better treatments and, perhaps one day, a cure.
Article written by Tim New-man and translated into French by Naturveda | Source

Find our range of products intended to treat migraines and headaches.

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