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What is the Evolutionary Advantage of Migraine?
E. Loder
Posted: January 2003  
Cephalalgia 2002; 22:624-632

Susceptibility to migraine is determined by genetic factors and is therefore subject to the forces of natural selection. Migraine is a common and ancient disorder whose prevalence may be increasing, suggesting that a migraine-prone nervous system may be associated with reproductive or survival advantages. Five evolutionary explanations are reviewed that might account for the persistence of migraine: (1) migraine as a defense mechanism; (2) migraine as a result of conflict with other organisms; (3) migraine as a result of novel environmental factors; (4) migraine as a trade-off between genetic harms and benefits; and (5) migraine as a design constraint. An evolutionary perspective on migraine allows the generation of important hypotheses about the disorder and suggests rewarding possibilities for further research.

October 3rd and 4th -- I was confined for these two days to my bed by a headache. A good natured old woman, who attended me, wished me to try many odd remedies. A common practice is to bind an orange-half or a bit of black plaster to each temple: and a still more general plan is to split a bean into halves, moisten them, and place one on each temple, where they will easily adhere. It is not thought proper ever to remove the beans or plaster, but to allow them to drop off, and sometimes, if a man with patches on his head, is asked, what is the matter? he will answer, "I had a headache the day before yesterday." Charles Darwin