Cell Genetics and Stress: What I Learned About Migraines Today

I’m reading Dr. Angela Stanton’s book Fighting the Migraine Epidemic and happened upon an interesting statement about genetics this morning:

The turning on of a gene is not done by your father or mother or their parents but by the environment inside and around your cells.

So we have these “migraine genes” that lay dormant until something in the environment of the cells “triggers” the gene into action.  Dr. Stanton points out that the environment of the cells has two components:

  • Internal environment: energy production inside the cells
  • External environment: biochemical “soup” in which the cell lives

Dr. Stanton goes on to say:

Exposure to repeated high level stress has been even shown to produce permanent genetic changes.

So, high level stress in the internal or external environment of the cells can cause migraines to start occurring, by activating these “bad genes.” Dr. Stanton indicates these changes are permanent.

Improving the Internal Environment of the Cells

Last week I was watching a program called The Energy Blueprint, which teaches how to increase your energy levels. One of the strategies taught in the program is to grow new, energy-generating mitochondria inside your cells (internal environment) using a process called hormesis.

In hormesis, mildly stressing the cells actually encourages them to grow new mitochondria, which results in more energy production.

The stressors recommended for growing new mitochondria are, strangely enough, the most common migraine triggers. This list of “cellular stressors” is taken directly from The Energy Blueprint:

  • Exercise
  • Intermittent fasting
  • Cold/Heat
  • Red light
  • Hypoxia (altitude – changes in air pressure and oxygen content)
  • Dietary phytochemicals (i.e. nutrients and micronutrients in specific foods)

What I Learned About Migraines Today

Yes, in many ways, migraines are about stress. We are genetically programmed to be more sensitive to stress.

And it seems that the mitochondria of migraineurs are suffering from migraines, too. If so, I wonder if mitochondria might have migraine genes.

Here’s the thing:

Mitochondria do not share genes with us.

Mitochondria are biochemical organisms with their own genetic code, which is passed to us by our mothers.

What I learned about migraines today is actually a question:

I wonder if anyone is investigating the migraine genes in mitochondria DNA?

What do you think? Have you heard anything about genetic studies of mitochondria?

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