New research out of the University of California San Diego School of Medicine points to a potential link between certain bacteria in the mouth and the incidence of migraine headaches.
The bacteria, Rothia mucilaginosa and Haemophilus parainfluenzae, actually convert nitrates (found in chocolate, wine, and cured meats) into nitric oxide (a powerful vasodilator in the body).
These two bacteria are part of the normal flora of the body, but when given an opportunity they can cause trouble. (Just like another critter we know, candida albicans, which causes yeast infections!) The researchers suggest that the production of nitric oxide by these bacteria may be the cause of the migraines by increasing vasodilation in the head.
Of course, more research needs to be done to confirm this theory, but it’s yet another example of why a healthy microbiome is so important to our overall health.
Balanced flora keeps opportunistic bacteria in check and playing nice. When things get out of balance from antibiotics, hormones, chemical exposures and stress, it can throw the bacterial balance off and lead to all kinds of health complaints.
How to Support a Healthy Microbiome
- Eat plenty of fermented food and fiber. This feeds our microbiome and helps to re-populate it.
- Get outside and get your hands dirty. Garden, stack wood, rack leaves, move rocks. Exposure yourself to nature and the wonderful bacteria that live it in. This inoculates our microbiome with lots of healthy critters.
- Avoid antibiotics when you can, and take a probiotic when you can’t. Much research now has demonstrated the benefits of taking a probiotic, especially after and exposure to an antibiotic. Taking at least 10 billion for 2 weeks post antibiotics is a no brainer.
- Lay off the antibiotic soaps. They’re not helping.