Chilli peppers are providing scientists with vital clues on how to cure migraines.
Research has found there are striking similarities between what happens in the brain during a migraine and the way skin reacts to having chilli oil rubbed into it. Now, scientists are using the way the body deals with chilli to develop migraine drugs.
They found that when chilli oil touches the skin, the capsaicin in the pepper causes the body to release calcitonin gene-related peptides, or CGRP, leading to an increase in blood flow to the affected area.
Biotechnology companies are now targeting a chemical released during a migraine that carries a 'pain' signal from nerve to nerve. By blocking a nerve receptor from receiving the message, these companies hope to develop drugs that prevent debilitating attacks.
One company developing a migraine drug is Amgen. To test the chilli theory, researchers injected the proposed drug under the skin of patients who had chilli oil on their skin. The drug blocked the CGRP that causes increased blood flow.