Welcome to my blog post “Getting To The Guts Of Migraines” where I discuss the connection between gut health and migraines.
You may also be interested in these other blog posts:
- The Ultimate Guide To Irritable Bowel Syndrome: click here.
- Can gut health and our microbiome effect mental health?: click here.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: click here.
What Is a Migraine?
Migraine is a recurrent and commonly disabling primary headache disorder that affects over 17% of women and 5%-8% of men.
What Causes Migraines?
Migraine susceptibility is multifactorial with genetic, hormonal and environmental factors all playing an important role.
The cause of migraine is complex and still not fully understood. Many different neuropeptides, neurotransmitters and brain pathways have been implicated. In connection with the myriad mechanisms and pathways implicated in migraine, a variety of comorbidities (e.g., cardiovascular, psychiatric and other neurological conditions) have been found to be closely associated with migraine.
Recent reports demonstrate an increased frequency of gastrointestinal (GI) disorders in patients with migraine compared with the general population.
Can Gut Bacteria And Poor Gut Health Cause Migraines?
Helicobacter pylori infection (a bacteria that colonises the stomach), irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis, liver disorders, celiac disease and alterations in the microbiome (called dysbiosis) have all been linked to the occurrence of migraine.
Several mechanisms involving the gut-brain axis, such as a chronic inflammatory response with inflammatory molecules passing to the circulatory system (leaky gut), intestinal bacteria modulation of the gut-immune system and dysfunction of the autonomic and enteric nervous system, have been proposed to explain these associations.
Can SIBO Cause Migraines?
There is no published research indicating SIBO in migraines, however when we consider the above associations it wouldn’t be surprising to see a strong correlation.
Some studies have indicated that up to 81% of those suffering with IBS, have SIBO and thus we are likely to see a correlation here. Also H. Pylori and gastroparesis have been discussed as potential causes of SIBO – both have been associated with migraines.
Can Leaky Gut Cause Migraines?
Yes, research has theorised that leaky gut may be one of the mechanisms linking poor gut health to migraines. When we have leaky gut, bacterial metabolites are able to cross the gut lining that can stimulate an immune and inflammatory response which may contribute to migraines.
Can Probiotics Help With Migraines?
Based on the above mechanisms that help explain the connection between gut health and migraines, it isn’t surprising that research does indeed suggest that probiotics may be helpful for migraines.
One study showed that a probiotic containing the following bacterial strains: Bifidobacterium infantis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Enterococcus faecalis, and Bacillus cereus, helped alleviate migraines in the participants when consuming 1.5 grams three times a day for 14 weeks.
It’s important to point out that these participants also performed an IgG Food Sensitivity test and removed the problematic foods.
IgG elimination diet combined with probiotics may be beneficial to migraine plus IBS. It may provide new insight by understanding the intricate relationship between migraine and gastrointestinal diseases.
It’s work highlighting to provide a balanced view on this that a systematic review and meta-analysis published in 2020 concluded that: “probiotic supplementation had no significant effect on the frequency and severity of episodic migraine attacks.”
When They Help, How Do Probiotics Help Migraines?
We’ve already mentioned the following mechanisms linking gut health to migraines:
- The gut-brain axis
- Chronic inflammatory response with inflammatory molecules passing to the circulatory system (leaky gut)
- Intestinal bacteria modulation of the gut-immune system
- Intestinal bacteria modulation of the autonomic and enteric nervous system (the enteric nervous system can be thought of as the digestive systems nervous system)
Bearing this in mind we know that probiotics can modulate the gut-brain axis, reduce inflammation, positively modulate the autonomic nervous system and modulate the microbiome itself. They also help modulate the gut-immune system.
What Foods Should You Avoid If You Get Migraines?
As discussed the best option may be to consider a food sensitivity test which will allow for a more personalised approach to your diet, and help avoid unnecessary exclusions. While the efficacy of IgG food sensitivity tests are debated, migraines seem to be a conditions where they can prove most helpful.
Summary: Gut Health & Migraines
So this is the dirty little secret of gut health!
- Several gut condition such as IBS have been associated with migraines.
- There are several mechanisms that might explain this association.
- Probiotics may be helpful in alleviating migraines.
- An elimination diet based on IgG food sensitive testing may be helpful.
References: Gut Health & Migraines
- Gastrointestinal disorders associated with migraine: A comprehensive review: click here.
- Gut-brain Axis and migraine headache: a comprehensive review: click here.
- What the Gut Can Teach Us About Migraine: click here.
- Effects of Diet Based on IgG Elimination Combined with Probiotics on Migraine Plus Irritable Bowel Syndrome: click here.
- IgG-based elimination diet in migraine plus irritable bowel syndrome: click here.
- Diet restriction in migraine, based on IgG against foods: a clinical double-blind, randomised, cross-over trial: click here
- Potential Beneficial Effects of Probiotics on Human Migraine Headache: A Literature Review: click here.
- The effects of the multispecies probiotic mixture Ecologic®Barrier on migraine: results of an open-label pilot study: click here.
- Migraine associated with gastrointestinal disorders: review of the literature and clinical implications: click here.
- Clinical features and risk factors for irritable bowel syndrome in Migraine patients: click here.
- Comorbidity of gastrointestinal disorders, migraine, and tension-type headache: a cross-sectional study in Iran: click here.
- Probiotics for the Prophylaxis of Migraine: A Systematic Review of Randomized Placebo Controlled Trials: click here.
- Effect of probiotic supplementation on migraine prophylaxis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials: click here.