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HeadWay, Issue #142 -- Gut Feelings: Why Migraine is Not Just in Your Head
May 20, 2016

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In this issue:

Gut Feelings: Why Migraine is Not Just in Your Head

Migraine World Summit Follow-up

Say what?! Enteric

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Gut Feelings: Why Migraine is Not Just in Your Head

More evidence is emerging to demonstrate that migraine isn't just in your head - it's also in your gut, and in your genes.

The implications may explain why certain migraine treatments are so powerful - and may lead to future treatments that take into consideration how the whole body works together.

For many years - if not for thousands of years - the evidence has been shouting at us. From the earliest days, nausea has been connected to migraine. "Sick headache" was once a common term for a migraine attack.

Abdominal migraine, where the symptoms are primarily in the gut, is another clue. The powerful way that diet can fight migraine symptoms.

(For some quick terms to know, see 6 Key Stomach/Gut Terms related to Migraine)

Modern science is starting to shed light on why this connection is so strong. Today, there's a lot of talk about the brain-gut axis, the connection between the nervous system and the gut. In fact, the gut has it's own "brain" - it's own nervous system, known as the enteric nervous system.

The gut brain connection led to migraine treatments such as ForeverWell.

Just how are the two "brains" connected? Well, as with anything in the human body, it's complicated! But there has been a lot of talk about two specific connections lately:
  • Gut flora (gut bacteria or intestinal microbiota): What was once a fringe discussion is becoming more and more central. The microbiota in your gut play a massive role in communication with the rest of your body. And these little creatures may play an increasing role in the treatment of depression, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and migraine.
  • Genes: a study earlier this year further confirmed the link between headache, migraine, and IBS. First, it was shown that over a quarter of patients with episodic tension-type headache had IBS, while over half the patients with migraine had IBS. The study also showed a genetic link between the three conditions. (see Migraine Linked to Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
The increasingly obvious link may also point to a further need to emphasize diet (not just avoiding triggers) in the treatment of migraine and headache.

Some of the study of probiotics (supplements to help normalize microbiota levels in your body) has been hampered by the rarity of quality supplements, and the complexity of the world of gut flora. There are many types of microbiota - which are low? Can they all be supplemented in the same way?

For general use I've recommended Nature's Way probiotics, especially Primadophilus Optima and Primadophilus Reuteri Pearls. With further interest and research, we can expect more good products to enter the market.

But this is not just about a supplement. It's a further reminder to focus on an all around healthy diet. It's also a reminder that all symptoms and diseases need to be taken into consideration in migraine treatment.

Pay attention to symptoms. If you are struggling with IBS and migraine, for example, discuss treatments with your doctor that may help with both.

For more on the links between IBS and migraine, see A Quick Guide to IBS and Migraine. For more about the brain-gut axis, check out this series of articles by Dr. Sara Adaes.

Migraine World Summit Follow-up

I hope to be writing more about some of the topics discussed at last month's Migraine World Summit. Meanwhile, if you missed some of the interviews, or are looking to delve into more cutting-edge information, consider getting an All-Access Pass, or even a VIP Access Pass at the summit website.

Say what?! Enteric

So the gut has its own nervous system, does it? The enteric nervous system? What does enteric mean?

It's easy - you could have guessed it - enteric means relating to the intestines. Drugs that disintegrate in the intestines may be called enteric drugs. Enteric is from a Greek word meaning - you guessed it - intestine.

Thanks for reading!  Remember, if you have feedback or ideas for future issues, visit the HeadWay MailRoom.  Your password is nomoache.
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