Migraines have many different food triggers.  Latest research is suggesting what’s in the mouth may also be a trigger.  Excess oral bacteria capable of breaking down nitrates may release nitric oxide.  This can lead to dilation of blood vessels in the brain and scalp.

Migraines Due to Mouth Bacteria?

It has been long thought that certain foods trigger migraines, but a new study suggests that its the bacteria from the food left in the mouth that may cause the debilitating headaches.


The study, published this week in the American Society for Microbiology’s open-access journal mSystems, found that people with migraines had more bacteria in their mouths that can break down nitrates found in certain foods (such as processed meats and green leafy vegetables), compared to people who didn’t suffer from migraines.


These nitrates can be converted into nitric oxide, which, while normally a good thing because it improves circulation, can be harmful when there is a lot of it in a person’s bloodstream. Too much of these bacteria may break down nitrates more quickly, causing blood vessels in the brain and scalp to dilate, thus causing migraines, according to separate research.


“While the link between migraines and nitrates has been known for a while, researchers still aren’t sure about the nature of this link. We know it depends on eventual formation of nitric oxide, but the exact mechanism hasn’t been established yet,” said Embriette Hyde, co-author of the study. “This study is very preliminary, and while the findings are exciting, we need to confirm them in a larger, targeted cohort.”


For the study, researchers analyzed data from the American Gut Project on bacteria found in the mouths of 172 healthy participants and the feces of 1,996 healthy participants.


Nitate-reducing microbes were found slightly more in the fecal samples of people who suffer from migraines and significantly more in the mouth samples. Read more…

If you suffer from migraines, you may want to do your own in-home experiment.  Eliminate nitrate-rich foods from your diet and monitor your migraine pattern.