Published: Wed, October 19, 2016
Health | By Jay Jacobs

Bacteria in mouth 'linked' to migraines

Bacteria in mouth 'linked' to migraines

Those people are migraine sufferers whose debilitating headaches are triggered by food.

For now, if people suspect that nitrates are triggering their migraines, they should try to avoid nitrates in their diet, study co-author Antonio Gonzalez, a programmer analyst at the University of California, San Diego, said in a statement. Doctors already know that foods with lots of nitrates are linked to migraines, and now new research may explain why eating them leads to headaches only in certain unlucky souls.

This bacteria eventually converts into nitric oxide which can trigger those painful migraines, although the substance can be good for your heart.

In fact, nitrate containing drugs are used to treat cardiac patients, however, many report severe headaches as a side effect.

Dr. Brendan Davies, a consultant neurologist at the University Hospitals of North Midlands and a trustee of the Migraine Trust, said the idea of gut bacteria playing a role in a migraine was medically plausible. "This is interesting work, but would need to be confirmed".

For the study, the researchers analyzed 172 oral samples and almost 2,000 fecal samples from healthy people who participated in the American Gut Project, one of the largest crowd-sourced science projects in the U.S. Thousands of people in the general public contributed samples to the project to have their microbiomes analyzed. And both of these samples in migraine sufferers had higher levels of that particular nitrate-processing bacteria.

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on migraines. Some people also experience a visual aura, which appears as shimmering light in the peripheral vision.

Diet, stress and lack of sleep are all known to be triggers, and hormones are also thought to play a role with migraines affecting three times as many women as men.

Eating bacon, sausages, and other processed meats may increase the risk of migraines, research suggests.

Have you been suffering from bad migraines as of late?

Specifically, people with migraines tended to have more bacteria that process nitrates, compounds found in many foods (e.g. leafy vegetables and processed meats).

They said it's unclear whether the difference in bacteria is the cause of the migraines or a result of them, or if the connection is indirect, but it's a promising finding.

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