Is migraine related to the evolutionary theory (clinical approach)?

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Is migraine related to the evolutionary theory (clinical approach)?

Migraine refers to concurrent episodes of moderate-to-severe headache which is often accompanied by increased sensitivity to light/sound, nausea and vomiting. It has been known as a common condition for several years and the have incidences increased rapidly in the last few years.

According to the theory of evolution, the occurence of the disorder, due to the advantages that the overreactivity to stimulus contributed to ancestral groups of Homo sapiens, and a greater presence of the disorder in modern societies, per the interactions with external factors.

Considering this, Alvaro-Gonzalez LC assessed these facts and reported the analysis. For better survival, the design of organims and their responses to environmental factors provided some stronge basis. Hence, pain and headache was regarded as homeostatic and adaptative responses. In secondary headaches and in syndromic forms of migraine,  less than 10% of the population did not experience the headache and also had the frequent migrainous phenotype. These attributes were understood under the following undergrounds:

Genetic characteristics (polygenic disorder with the implication of many geens with a low penetrance)

Particular neurophysiological data (lack of habituation, sensibilization and low preactivation)

Interaction with with the environment and its association with comorbid disorders like depression and anxiety; and

Environmental interactions in modern societies (increase in the number of estrogenic cycles and specially overexposition to stress)

It can be concluded that a feature that was an evolutionary advantage has been transformed in a highly widespread and disabling disorder in modern societies. It was the culmination of the interaction with internal (estrogenic cycles) and external (stress) stimuli, making it a mismatch disorder. The effects develop in childhood through epigenetics. Therefore, therapeutic interventions would yield higher benefits, if whole population is educated to embracethese aspects.


Rev Neurol. 2016 Oct 1;63(7):315-25.

Link to the source:

Original title of article:

Migraine and evolutionary theory: paths for a clinical approach


Alvaro-Gonzalez LC

Rev Neurol. 2016 Oct 1;63(7):315-25.
Exploratory, Migraine, Evolution theory, Review
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