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Probiotics can help – or hurt – migraines

  • By Sunny

    We always hear about how great probiotics are. But many different bacteria are considered probiotic, and some can help migraines and some can hurt. I’ve been doing a lot of research and wanted to share, in the hope that this can help others, because it sure has helped me.

    There are 2 main species of probiotic: bifidobacteria and lactobacillus.

    Lactobacillus – This is most common in pills and yogurt. The problem with lactobacillus bacteria is that many of them produce a form of lactic acid (D lactic acid) that is hard for the body to clear, and if it builds up it can lead to headaches, even in people who don’t get migraines. Some lactobacillus bacteria – especially L. Rhamnosus – also increase glutamate – a neurotransmitter that can also trigger migraines in susceptible people. Many lactobacillus bacteria also produce histamine which can be a problem for people with migraines.

    Bifidobacteria – This species is present in us at birth, but declines as we age. Studies link it to improved serotonin in the brain and reduced levels of anxiety and depression. Studies also link it to lower inflammation and lower levels of TNF, as well as lower levels of COX2.

    I know – it sounds crazy to link bacteria in your gut to migraines. But a lot of valid studies are being done showing a clear connection between bacteria in the gut and the rest of our health, both physical and mental.

    I did a lot of research this year and decided to stop all yogurt and try a bifidobacteria supplement. Honestly, I am a true skeptic and I did not expect much. But I keep a journal (and have for years) so I would be able to tell.

    And the result shocked me. There was a noticeable drop, not only in the number of migraine days and in the severity of the ones I did get, but also – they did not last as long.

    But – It is not easy to find supplements with only bifidobacteria. After a lot of searching, I found only two online. Both contain strains of bifidobacteria – B. Infantis, B. Breve, B. Longum, B. Bifidum – that have been linked in studies to improved symptoms in people with depression and/or anxiety. If you want to try this, the two I found are – Bifidus Mood Boost by Lifted Naturals (this is the one I took) and Seeking Health Bifidobacterium Vegetarian. Both are on amazon, not cheap, but a lot less than I have spent over the years on migraine surgery and medications from preventives to triptans to botox.

    A few cautions – this may not work for everyone. Also, it may take a few weeks before the effects kick in. And – if you are not used to probiotics – start slowly (use a sprinkle from the capsule, not the whole thing and work up to it) and take at night, as bifidobacteria (like any probiotic) can definitely get you “moving” the next morning if you catch my drift!

    I hope this helps someone as much as it has helped me.

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  • By Peggy Artman Moderator

    Hi Sunny, thank you for your contribution to our community forum. It sounds like you have done a lot of research on the subject of probiotics. We don’t give medical advice, so we caution others to check with their doctor before trying something new.
    ~ Peggy (Migraine.com Team)

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  • By spriest

    I found this extremely interesting. I am a full believer in the gut affecting everything theory, if you think about it all of your nutrients are being absorbed there. If the gut is angry nothing else is going to be happy either. This is why I attempted probiotics, unfortunately they made me feel horrible. I am not sure if it was the dairy yogurt or bad capsules, but every one I tried would make me feel worse. I didn’t know that L. Bacillius creates lactic acid, this actually makes sense to me. I am going to try one of the ones you mentioned above, even if it doesn’t help with my migraines it would be nice to have a happy gut. Thank you for posting this.

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