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Trust Hormone May Provide Migraine Relief

Relief for people who suffer from chronic migraine may be derived from the hormone oxytocin, according to information presented at the International Headache Congress during June in Boston.

In the study of 40 participants, those who received an intranasal dose of oxytocin reported significant pain relief from 2 to 4 hours later. Sixty-four percent who were treated with the hormone reported a substantial decrease in pain compared to 27% of those who received a placebo. 

“Nearly three times the amount of chronic migraine patients experienced significant relief from their migraine after being given TI-001 (oxytocin) compared to those given a placebo,” said David C. Yeomans, PhD, who led the study and is the chief scientist and founder of Trigemina, which is producing the product. Dr. Yeomans is also the director of pain research at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Patients also reported a decrease in nausea, photophobia, and phonophobia, all of which frequently accompany migraine.

Oxytocin is sometimes known as the trust hormone and is released in the body during labor and breast-feeding and after intercourse. In the brain, it works as a neurotransmitter and, in addition to chronic migraine, is being studied as a treatment for a variety of disorders, including autism and schizophrenia.

When delivered nasally, oxytocin bypasses the blood-brain barrier and acts on the trigeminal nerve, which carries pain information from the head and face. Oxytocin binds to receptors in this nerve and blocks the pain signals, Dr. Yeomans said.

The researchers found that when patients used a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agent (NSAID)  before taking  oxytocin, the hormone was  not as effective,  and patients received either no or less benefit.  Experts believe this stems from the NSAIDS blocking the production of an inflammatory compound in the body and reducing the number of receptors to which oxytocin can bind.

“This discovery provides valuable insight on the physiology of chronic head pain,” Dr. Yeomans said.

The company is continuing the testing process and hopes to have a product available within 3 years.

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