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Are migraines linked to gut health and chronic non-communicable diseases?

In a recent review published in Nutrients, researchers examine the Links Between Migraines, Gut Health, and Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (CNCDs).


Migraine, a widespread cause of impairment worldwide, is characterized by a complex interplay of physiopathogenic stimuli and hereditary predisposition. Gut dysbiosis is a pivotal factor in migraine development, necessitating further exploration of the gut-brain connection and its implications for improved patient care.

About the review

In this study, researchers explored the potential connections between gut dysbiosis and CNCDs in relation to migraines. Their comprehensive analysis included data from the Cochrane Library, PubMed, and Scopus databases up to August 2023, focusing on English-language publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Association between migraines and gut dysbiosis

Migraine, a multifaceted neurological condition, is influenced by various triggers, including hormonal factors, psychological elements, environmental factors, medications, and dietary habits.

The dynamic gut microbiome, subject to numerous influences, including nutrition, exercise, antibiotics, genetics, and more, plays a crucial role in migraine pathophysiology via the "gut-brain axis."

The gut-brain axis underlines how the central nervous system affects the gut environment, impacting gut movements, immune responses, and neurotransmitter production. Low serotonin levels in the brain are significantly associated with migraines, with increased levels during acute pain attacks.

Chronic headache sufferers exhibit elevated histamine levels, further underscoring the role of gut dysbiosis in regulating pro-inflammatory cytokines linked to migraine onset.

Gut dysbiosis also reduces the synthesis of short-chain fatty acids, leading to increased levels of inflammatory cytokines like tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), which mirrors migraine-like pain in animal models.

This research suggests that regulating the intestinal microbiome through nutritional strategies, probiotics, and vagus nerve stimulation could offer promising avenues for migraine treatment.

Association between migraines and chronic non-communicable diseases

Migraines are frequently linked to CNCDs such as diabetes, arterial hypertension (AH), obesity, cancer, and chronic kidney disease (CKD). Gut dysbiosis has been associated with CNCD development and the emergence of chronic migraines in CNCD patients.

Lifestyle modifications and proper nutritional interventions can help alleviate migraine symptoms and slow the progression of CNCDs.

Migraine may even be a contributing factor to diabetes, as episodes of hypoglycemia are common among diabetic individuals. Effective migraine therapy may involve glycemic management to reduce hypoglycemic episodes. Insulin resistance, prevalent in type 2 diabetes, is connected to migraine development and neuroinflammation, further affecting the central and peripheral nervous systems.

Shared pathways between arterial hypertension and headaches include endothelial dysfunction (ED), renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) involvement, and autonomic cardiovascular modulation. Certain anti-hypertensive medications have demonstrated benefits in mitigating migraines.

Obesity increases the risk of migraines, with weight loss in obese individuals reducing migraine frequency and intensity. Studies also suggest that CKD development is linked to migraines, increasing the risk of CKD in chronic migraine sufferers.


The gut microbiome's role in migraines is underscored by its impact on migraine onset and persistence. Strategies like a Mediterranean diet, ketogenic diet, probiotics, physical exercise, and addressing nutritional deficiencies may offer potential benefits in managing migraines and their associated CNCDs.

Poor adherence to medical treatment could lead to more severe migraine episodes, emphasizing the importance of holistic care.

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