Excellent question !!

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Posted by drummer ( on January 20, 2000 at 19:41:25:

In Reply to: Cluster Headaches Serotonin posted by Christy on January 20, 2000 at 19:15:23:

I don't have the answer though. I've copy/pasted an article from the "ask doc greg" link to the left that may help explain the whole Serotonin thingy for you. Notice the one particular sentence that I bolded. Here is Doc Greg's article:

Serotonin is a chemical neurotransmitter in the brain. What that means is that the brain uses it to send signals across short distances. Sort of like squirting a cat with a water gun to get it off the furniture. Imitrex (the other medications are similar) is a serotonin analogue, meaning it looks to the brain a lot like serotonin, except that it is recognized only by a small portion of the brain.

Imagine, for a moment, all the doors in a building. You could make a master key, one that would open all of the doors, or a key specific to just a few. Serotonin is the master key...Imitrex opens only just a few.

Increasing the amount of serotonin everywhere in the brain does not help in the treatment of headaches. Seems that stimulating some parts helps, others hurt. What was needed was something that stimulated only those sections that help.

Imitrex, and the other triptans, do just that. They work at the doors labeled 5HT1, doors that cause constriction of the arteries in the brain...also believed to interact with the ends of nerves that secrete pain chemicals, decreasing their activity. By doing so, the medication works quickly, and often effectively, in reducing pain involved with vascular headaches (clusters and migraines).

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