Aside from good and bad bacteria, some essential hormones and neurotransmitters are created in the gut and have a significant effect on our brains. Some studies have also shown that a disruption to the normal, healthy balance of bacteria in the microbiome can cause the immune system to overreact and contribute to inflammation of the GI tract, which in turn can lead to the development of diseases that occur not only throughout your body, but also in your brain.
“What we often see is a link between migraine or indeed other neurological issues like anxiety and bacterial imbalance in the gut.” Says Dr. Ciara Wright of Glenville Nutrition. “H. pylori infection is one of these, as is Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). Most of your good (and bad) bacteria should be lower down in your digestive tract, in the large intestine. Bacterial overgrowth further up can cause many issues. It is also associated with reflux and H pylori infection.” Interestingly, Dr. Wright also points out that “H. pylori and SIBO are related to elevated histamine levels in the blood. Histamine and other molecules like it are vasoactive, in that they can cause changes in the dilation of blood vessels.” The dilation of the blood vessels is thought to be one of the mechanisms of migraine and the triptans many people take for episodic migraine contract blood vessels, thereby, hopefully stopping the migraine.
The possible connection between the H. Pylori bacteria and migraine was first bought to our attention by a migraineur who suffered chronically for 40 years, but happened to be diagnosed with having the H. Pylori bacteria. He was given a course of antibiotics which killed the bacteria and his migraine seems to have stopped. He no longer suffers from the pain, stress and worry, or even the sensitivity to light, or noise. His conclusion is that the H. Pylori had a role to play in his migraine and that getting rid of the bacteria has been key to his improvement.
Another study backs his theory and Dr. Wright’s comments up. This study was carried out on 64 patients all assessed using the MIDAS (Migraine Disability Assessment) test and concluded that “H. pylori eradication may indeed have a beneficial role on migraine headache.” Some medical experts remain sceptical and believe that this may be a coincidence or a temporary lull. The jury is mostly out on this one at the moment.
This may not be a cure and everyone who suffers from migraine knows that there is nothing that works for everyone, but it’s another option to explore. So take care of your second brain and it might help you to take care of your first brain!
 Dickerson F, Severance E, Yolken R. The microbiome, immunity, and schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. May 2017;62:46-52 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889159116305578?via%3Dihub [Abstract]