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Your Mouth Bacteria May Be What’s Causing Your Migraine

19 October 2016, 1:25 pm EDT By Livia Rusu Tech Times
Nitrates transformed into nitrites in patients suffering from migraines could be one of the causes of the severe headaches. From the 38 million Americans experiencing migraines, most find a connection between nitrates consumption and the symptoms.   ( Kjerstin Michaela Haraldsen | Pixabay )

People who suffer from migraine carry a significantly larger number of microbes in their mouths, which modify nitrates, according to new study conducted by the researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine.

The study, published on Oct. 18 by mSystems, analyzed bacteria in the mouths of 172 oral samples and 1,996 fecal samples taken from healthy participants, who had previously completed a survey about suffering from migraines.

Among the 38 million Americans who experience migraines, most report a strong association between nitrates consumption and the headaches. The nitrates are substances found in foods like processed eats or green leafy vegetables, and — interacting with the substance in the mouths — can be transformed into nitrites.

"There is this idea out there that certain foods trigger migraines-chocolate, wine and especially foods containing nitrates," explained the first author of the study, Antonio Gonzalez.

Blood circulation can be transformed by this occurrence, as the nitrites can sometimes be transformed, at their turn, into nitric oxide, which is known to improve blood flow and reduce blood pressure. Nonetheless, 80 percent of the patients suffering from cardiac conditions, who administrate nitrate-based drugs, report migraines as a side effect of the chest pain medicine.

The bacterial gene revealed different bacterial degrees in people who get migraines and the ones who don't; however, there were no tremendous differences between the two groups concerning the bacterial community in the samples analyzed.

A bioinformatics tool was used in the examination of the genes more likely to be an integrated part of the sample sets. Fecal samples hosted a statistically relevant increase in the quantity of genes encoding nitrate, nitrite and nitric oxide enzymes in migraine patients. Although the abundance was not significant quantity-wise, its relevance in the context of the study remains. Oral samples suggested that these genes were profoundly more abundant in migraineurs.

As previous scientific work suggested a potentially symbiotic relationship between the oral commensal bacteria and the patients, nitrate-reducing bacteria was taken as relevant in the human host.

The results of the study suggest a potential link between bacterial nitrate, nitrite, nitric oxide and migraines, because of the higher abundance in migraineurs compared to the people who do not suffer from severe headaches. Although this research opens an horizon for a potentially relevant discovery in treating headaches, further scientific approaches will be necessary to confirm or infirm the large-scale validity of these findings.

Migraine is an inflammation, caused by a change in the brain stem when affected by the trigeminal nerve. Neuropeptides are released as a result to this process, which then travel to meninges or to the outer covering of the brain, causing the migraines.

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