DEC 20, 2019 4:18 PM PST

Are Migraines Caused by Unhealthy Gut Bacteria?

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Research is increasingly pointing towards the importance of the gut-brain axis in regulating our health. Not only has the health of our gut bacteria, or microbiome, been linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, it has also been linked to mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, and autoimmune disorder multiple sclerosis. Now, on top of this, it seems to influence migraines too. 

In a study from 2016, researchers found that people who have migraines tend to have more bacteria, particularly in the mouth, that emits nitric oxide. A known trigger for migraines, this finding may offer an explanation as to why migraines occur more frequently in some rather than others, and how certain foods may trigger them in the first place. 

In the study, Antoni Gonzalez from the University of California San Diego and his team used high-throughput RNA sequencing technology to analyze bacteria from 172 oral samples and 1,996 fecal samples from healthy participants both with and without a history of migraines. They ultimately found that those who suffered from migraines tend to have higher amounts of bacteria that produce nitrates than those who do not suffer from them. 

These findings correspond with another study conducted in 2019 in which researchers found a link between probiotic usage and migraines. For the study, they recruited 50 people either suffering from chronic or episodic varities of the headache. Receiving either a placebo or a probiotic containing 14 strains of bacteria including Bacillus subtilis and Lactobacillus, they found that after 8-10 weeks of usage, those on probiotics saw significant decreases in migraine attacks than those on placebos. 

In total, the frequency of migraines fell by 45% for those with chronic migraines, and 40% for those with the episodic variety. Moreover, those with chronic migraines saw the intensity of their headaches drop by 31%, while those with episodic migraines saw an average drop of 29%.

Suggestive findings, headache specialist at the National Migraine Center, Katy Munroe, believes that there is therefore most likely a link between migraines and the microbiome health. However, due to small sample sizes, further research is needed before conclusions can be made that this link is more than just a correlation.

 

Sources: News Medical, mSystems and University of Vermont 

 

About the Author
  • Science writer with keen interests in technology and behavioral biology. Her current focus is on the interplay between these fields to create meaningful interactions, applications and environments.
You May Also Like
AUG 25, 2020
Neuroscience
Study Shows Exercise Relieves Major Depression
AUG 25, 2020
Study Shows Exercise Relieves Major Depression
Depression is a common mental condition that many feel at some point throughout life. While antidepressants work for som ...
SEP 03, 2020
Health & Medicine
High BMI and Waist Circumference Increase Dementia Risk
SEP 03, 2020
High BMI and Waist Circumference Increase Dementia Risk
New research from University College London (UCL) provides another link between obesity and dementia risk. The study cit ...
SEP 08, 2020
Neuroscience
Synchronizing Brain Waves Could Help Dyslexia Effects
SEP 08, 2020
Synchronizing Brain Waves Could Help Dyslexia Effects
New research from the University of Geneva shows that adults with dyslexia can read more fluently with a non-invasive el ...
OCT 13, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
A Small Part of the Brain May Transmit Inflammation From Mom to Fetus
OCT 13, 2020
A Small Part of the Brain May Transmit Inflammation From Mom to Fetus
There is still a lot we don't know about the brain, and especially about two small bits of tissue deep within it called ...
OCT 24, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Software Flags Elevated Cerebral Palsy Risk in Premies
OCT 24, 2020
Software Flags Elevated Cerebral Palsy Risk in Premies
Diagnostic imaging scientists have developed a software tool for predicting the future onset of cerebral palsy in babies ...
NOV 10, 2020
Neuroscience
Nanoparticles Pass the Blood-Brain Barrier in Zebrafish
NOV 10, 2020
Nanoparticles Pass the Blood-Brain Barrier in Zebrafish
Video:  Explains the challenges of delivering medicine to the brain, and possibly tools to pass the blood-brain bar ...
Loading Comments...