There’s no doubt that migraine headaches, i.e., this collection of diverse syndromes labeled “migraine headaches,” have a long list of contributing causes that include magnesium deficiency, MTHFR genetic variants such as the C677T single-nucleotide polymorphism, and possibly several forms of mitochondrial dysfunction.
But add the various forms of dysbiosis to the list, alterations in bowel flora composition in terms of bacterial and fungal species, interconnected bacterial communities, the profile of bacterial metabolites produced, and their location (colon vs. upper gastrointestinal tract).
Helicobacter pylori, H. pylori, the microorganism that underlies stomach and duodenal ulcers that has also been associated with various gastrointestinal cancers, hyper- and hypochlorhydria (increased and decreased stomach acid), vitamin B12 deficiency, idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura, coronary disease and other health conditions, has also been associated with migraine headaches. (See our Undoctored Inner Circle Advanced Concepts discussion about H. pylori and how to explore stomach acid issues for additional discussion.) Observational data suggest that people with migraines have higher likelihood of H. pylori present. Further, eradication of H. pylori such as in studies such as this and this with multi-agent antibiotic regimens reduces migraine frequency and duration, suggesting cause-effect.
Recall that small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, SIBO, is a common condition that often presents itself as irritable bowel syndrome or fibromyalgia, while commonly also complicating conditions such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, autoimmune conditions and even chronic neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. Among the many factors that lead to SIBO are hypo- or achlorhydria, reduced or absent stomach acid, the long-term consequence of having H. pylori over many years, as well as from taking stomach acid-suppressing drugs. Stomach acid is one of the important barriers to microorganisms ascending the intestinal tract, as well as those entering via food and water. Without it, the likelihood of SIBO increases. Not surprisingly, H. pylori can co-exist with SIBO in a substantial proportion of people.
Do people with migraine headaches thereby also have greater likelihood of SIBO? It makes sense, but the connection has not yet been made formally. There is evidence that people with migraines do indeed have alterations in bowel flora, but the SIBO angle has not yet been specifically pursued. But the chain of logic leads so easily down the path of SIBO to migraines that I believe it is at least being aware of this potential connection. And, as I’ve said, SIBO is astoundingly common.
Having known a lot of people with migraines over the years and watching how much they struggled, being dispensed prescription drug after prescription drug, with some now costing hundreds of dollars per month out-of-pocket, we are always on the lookout for new and effective insights that, as with most other Undoctored strategies, do not treat conditions but correct the factors that allow abnormal health conditions to develop—a big distinction. We should add the common condition SIBO to our list, at least tentatively.