Although doctors and scientists still don’t fully understand what causes some people to develop this debilitating disorder, evidence suggests migraine can be hereditary. Keep reading to find out more about familial migraine.

Not just a bad headache — understanding migraines

People that have never had a migraine before tend to think they are just “a (really) bad headache.” And yes, a miserable, head-splitting headache is often part of a migraine, but there is so much more to this complex condition that affects more than 1 billion women, men, and children globally.

Migraine is a neurological disorder that causes a variety of symptoms — most notably, intense head pain that can shift from one side of your head to another. Beyond the pain, migraines can also trigger nausea, vomiting, vision changes, and sensitivity to light, sound, and smells. The causes are still unknown, but evidence suggests that migraines can be hereditary, meaning that they are sometimes passed down from parents to children.

Can migraines run in families?

The short answer is yes, migraines can and do run in families. In fact, if one of your parents has migraines, there’s about a 50% chance that you’ll get them too. And it could be thanks to your genes.

Your genes, which are made up of DNA, are the building blocks of who you are. You inherit them from your mother and father, and they contain the basic instructions your body needs to make the proteins that make it possible for you to be alive, reading this right now.

Genes not only play an important role in determining how you look: tall, short, brunette or blonde, big hands or small. But they can also increase your likelihood of developing inherited conditions, like sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, or, in some cases, migraine headaches.

Blame it on your parents? Genes linked to migraines

Family Migraine Genetics

Family Migraine Genetics

Studies show that the likelihood, duration, and severity of migraines are greatly influenced by a number of specific genetic variants, sometimes called genetic mutations. One example is the gene KCNK18, which has the code for making a protein called TRESK that influences how your nerve cells communicate pain signals.

In 2018, an international study published in Nature found that in comparison to non-migraine sufferers, many migraineurs — particularly those with aura — had a mutation in the KCNK18 that affected the function of TRESK. The same study also revealed that TRESK is present in brain structures that have long been associated with migraine pathways.

Alterations to the TRPV1 gene have also been discovered in migraine patients. This gene is responsible for modulating pain receptors, and investigators have found mutations associated with chronic headaches, migraines, and scalp hypersensitivity.

Many other genes are suspected to contribute to migraines. Researchers have identified more than 40. But it’s also important to note that migraine headaches are polygenic, meaning that there are multiple genes involved in the disease, rather than a single variation doing all the damage. Alone, some of these genetic mutations would have little to no effect on your health, but a collection of them could definitely increase your chances of developing chronic migraines.

Additional genes that have been linked to migraines:


What about hemiplegic migraines? Are they hereditary?

A hemiplegic migraine is a rare type of migraine that can cause temporary weakness and paralysis in one side of the body, in addition to the migraine attack itself. There are two types of hemiplegic migraines: familial and sporadic.

As you may have guessed from its name, familial hemiplegic migraines (FHM) run in families. Researchers have found links between FHM and mutations to the genes CACNA1A, ATP1A2, SCN1A, and PRRT2, which are all associated with the production of ion pathways in the brain.

Contrary to some genetic conditions that require two copies of a gene mutation to be developed, the type of FHM inheritance is autosomal dominant. This means that you only need to receive the gene from one of your parents to develop this family migraine.

These genetic links could mean good news for migraine sufferers

So, what does all of this mean for you? Well, migraine is still a relatively “mysterious” condition in that there’s a lot we don’t know yet. So as more research into the relationships between family genetics and migraines emerges, experts get closer to potentially finding new and improved ways of treating — and perhaps one day even curing — this prevalent neurological disease.

The power of nutrition

In the meantime, what is known is that migraine sufferers, when tested, tend to be low in particular nutrients. That’s exactly why we developed MigreLief daily nutritional supplements – designed to fill in the nutritional gaps that migraine sufferers tend to have in common.  Hundreds of thousands of migraine sufferers have benefited from our MigreLief daily formulas. Who knows – perhaps nutrition plays a role in the hereditary family migraine.

Check out our blog for more migraine prevention tips!


The MigreLief collection of supplements was created by Akeso Health Sciences to help migraine sufferers of all ages. AKESO formulates world class dietary supplements that provide nutritional support for the most common health issues that concern people most, such as migraines, headaches, joint health, stress & anxiety, memory, sleeplessness, ADHD, and more. Changing lives is the reasons we wake up every day passionate about the special products we provide to our customers. Helping you to get well and stay well is our bottom line.