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HeadWay, Issue #004 -- Triptans didn't work for you?
November 21, 2003

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In this month's issue:

Try another Triptan!

A new natural alternative...

Say what?! Types of meds...

Bonus: Shopping for the migraineur...

Try another Triptan!

In the early 90s a new series of drugs hit the migraine world the Triptans. Most of us that have been to the doctor for migraine since then have either heard about or likely tried one triptan or another. This class of drugs include things like Maxalt (rizatriptan), Zomig (zolmitriptan), Amerge (naratriptan), Frova (frovatriptan) and Imitrex (Sumatriptan). For many, triptans proved to be very effective in getting rid of migraines once they started. Some triptans seem to help cluster headache patients as well. Others of us had no success and moved on to other things.

But if it's been a few years, or even a few months, you may be wise to take another look. The research has brought to light new triptans and new facts that may help those who weren't helped before.

For example, just this fall new research came out about when to take the triptan. Rami Burstein, PhD from Harvard Medical School recently published research about migraine and skin sensitivity (called cutaneous allodynia). This new research seems to show that migraine starts in nerves outside the brain, and then moves inside the brain. When the migraine moves inside, symptoms such as skin sensitivity occur in some patients. If triptans are introduced after this stage, they are much less effective. The message is that many patients may have been taking their painkillers too late. Try taking the triptan early in the migraine, you may have better results, especially if you are someone who suffers from skin sensitivity.

There are also new versions of the drug coming out, which may give you different results. A study released on October 20, 2003 at the meeting of the American Neurological Association showed that Eletriptan (Relpax), for example, may help patients that haven't been helped by other triptans in the past. There may also be a lower risk of rebound headache.

Each triptan has a slightly different way of reacting in your body. Some absorb faster, some slower. Some can react with certain other drugs, but not all. The best thing to do is to talk to your doctor and try some of the newer ones. Again, try taking them as soon as your migraine starts. Try something that absorbs faster, like a "tongue melt" or nasel spray. You may be surprised to find that something you gave up on may still hold some hope!

For more recent news on the triptans, check out

A new natural alternative...

Some of the best natural therapies for migraine involve getting the body back to where it should be, rather than just adding another chemical. Over the years, research has shown us certain things that tend to be lacking in the bodies of people with migraine. One example is endomorphins. Endomorphins are neurotransmitters found in the brain. They are the body's natural painkillers. Migraineurs for some reason tend to have lower levels of endomorphins.

Rather than adding endomorphins directly, you can slow down the loss by taking DLPA (DL-phenylalanine). This is everything that a "natural health" nut is looking for. It's non-toxic, naturally accepted by the body, non-addictive, and rather than getting less effective like most drugs do, it seems to become more effective over time!

DLPA is available without prescription, and can be bought online at places such as Vitacost. If you're looking for another natural treatment for migraine or other types of chronic pain, why not give it a try?

Read more about DLPA online here...

Say what?! Types of meds...

Sometimes we talk of drugs being "abortive" or "prophylactic". Which is which? Abortive means that it stops the migraine or some of the symptoms. Generally that means that you take an abortive drug after the migraine train has already left the station. Prophylactic means that you're talking preventative measures. These are normally drugs that you take regularly, which cut down on the number of migraines you get or their severity. Abortives (which include painkillers) include triptans, tylenol and narcotics. Prophylactics include beta blockers, methysergide, and antidepressants. Drugs such as ibuprofen can be either abortive or prophylactic. Read more about abortive drugs and prophylactic drugs at

bonus: Shopping for the migraineur...

Christmas shopping doesn't have to be a headache (oops - sorry)! Just in time for Christmas, here are 5 quick ideas for the migraineur on your list...

1. The Abra Therapeutics Sleep Therapy Bath, which contains herbs and oils including lavender, a popular herb for headache.
2. The book Massage Made Easy includes both self massage and two person massage.
3. Cool your head and block the light with the popular Silk Lavender Flax Seed Eye Pillow.
4. Lots of great ideas for dealing with migraine in Migraines For Dummies.
5. Hard to know what to get? There are lots of supplements, vitamins and more at wholesale cost at Your friend could use a gift certificate to try something new...
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