Is Bacteria In Your Gut Causing Your Migraines?


Do you frequently suffer from migraines? If so, your headaches could be linked to a specific type of bacteria in your gut.

A new study found that migraine sufferers have significantly higher levels of nitrate-modifying bacteria in their mouths and guts.

The study was performed by researchers from the University of San Diego, who identified a difference in the levels of specific bacteria in the mouth, throat, and gut of patients who suffer from migraines. When these bacteria levels were compared to those who didn’t suffer from migraines, it was found that migraine sufferers have significantly higher levels of that bacteria.

The specific type of bacteria converts nitrates into nitric oxide in the blood, which can trigger headaches. Typically, nitrates are found in foods like processed meats (bacon, salami, etc.) along with wine, chocolate, leafy vegetables, and certain types of medications.

How the Study Worked

The study was based on a relatively large sample size: researchers from the University of San Diego analyzed oral and fecal samples from migraine sufferers and non-migraine sufferers. A total of 171 fecal samples from migraine suffers were analyzed, then compared with 172 oral samples and 1996 fecal samples from healthy individuals.

The study was featured in mSystems, an open access journal published by The American Society for Microbiology.

Researchers initially launched the study after it was found that many people who take nitrate-containing medications (which are often prescribed for heart problems) also suffer from headaches as a side effect. In fact, as many as four in five cardiac patients taking medication to treat chest pains or congestive heart failure will report severe headaches as a side effect.

Researchers aren’t concluding their research yet: their next step is to examine the potential connection between nitrate-modifying bacteria and different types of migraines.

How to Avoid Migraines

Everybody has different ways to deal with their migraines. However, this latest study gives us more science-backed ways on how to deal with your migraines. If you want to avoid migraines, you should avoid eating “trigger” foods containing nitrates, including chocolate, wine, and processed meats (bacon and salami are particularly problematic, among others).

Certain leafy vegetables can also contain nitrates. If you’re taking medication that contains nitrates, and frequently experience migraines, then you may also want to talk to your doctor about a different treatment plan.

Ultimately, not all migraines are caused by nitrate levels. However, this study gets us one step closer to determining the reason many of us suffer from migraines.

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