Help for migraine sufferers from bacteria

People suffering from migraines tend to have particular profile of bacteria linked to nitrate processing.

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I am keen not to overstate the potential of any individual scientific study. However this story highlights exciting news about a potential relationship between bacteria and migraines. In 2016 The Guardian featured a study that appeared to demonstrate a link  between the efficient break down of nitrates in humans and the occurrence of migraines. As I understand the research,  migraineurs (people that suffer from migraine) tend to have more nitrate reductase bacteria in both the mouth and in stool samples, than the wider population.

Nitrate reductase genes are responsible for processing nitrates in food and drinks, point being the greater their abundance the more efficient the nitrate processing. So getting more nitrates from food (compared to non migraineurs) may be linked to triggers for migraines. Obviously further research will be needed but the link between nitrates and headaches is not new. What this study is demonstrating is that the key might rest with the microorganisms in the mouth and gut.

Many migraine sufferers are aware of a relationship between certain foods and increased risks of attacks, through chocolate and wine for example. It is also known that certain drugs high in nitrates can provoke severe headaches. When broken down, nitrates lead to increased blood circulation in the cardio vascular system, this increase may be a key factor in migraines. The complexity of the human microbiome, particularly the gut-brain axis, makes demonstrating causality between food and health challenging. However this seems like a promising area of research. Controlling  the intake of foods high in nitrates might be a short term solution. But given that fruit and vegetables are rich sources of nitrates, cutting down on them could present a range of risks and benefits. For more information visit the Migraine Action or Migraine Trust websites.

We always welcome your feedback, comments in the text box below. Thanks for Peter for suggesting the subject and as always please read our disclaimer.

Author: eatscientifically

As a researcher working with the contemplative sciences, it became evident to me that food plays an important role in the life of most regular meditators. From this realisation, it was only a small step to identify correlations between diet and certain cognitive characteristics linked to meditation and mindfulness. Over the last decade, science has been increasingly supporting the view that our diet meditates our gut bacteria, which in turn directly correlates with our physical and mental health. Central to this understanding is the appreciation that some simple and inexpensive fermented foods and drinks make a positive contribution to gut health. Science now supports the proposition that improving your gut health is likely to increase your resilience to a number of illnesses including some forms of cancer, heart disease, depression and anxiety.

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