Migraine: new therapies

A favorite topic of current medical research is the intestine. It was already considered a refuge of health many centuries ago, and complementary medical methods such as TCM or Ayurveda put it in the spotlight. And even modern Western science rediscovers its holistic relevance. All right, you can say now, but what does all this have to do with migraines? Quite a lot, as recent studies show. For via the intestine-liver axis pollutants can penetrate into the brain and cause the pain attacks there. How this works and how to prevent it, that's what the intern Dr. med. Vanessa Stadlbauer from the Graz Medical University and "Institut Allergosan" director Anita Frauwallner explains.

Multiple triggers

What exactly causes a headache attack, you do not know. The causes range from stress to hormones to nutrition (see below). From one to two attacks per year and up to 20 days of pain per month, the spectrum of suffering afflicted – after all, one in ten Austrians, a good two-thirds of them women. Their quality of life is often severely restricted, the use of painkillers greatly increased. Effective migraine medications, the triptans, have significant side effects. A new therapeutic approach is now examining the relationship between digestion and excruciating headaches. Because that there is a connection, you know already longer. Often seizures are accompanied by nausea, constipation or diarrhea. Conversely, intestinal diseases such as celiac disease or Crohn's disease increase the risk of migraine. Finally, one has discovered what is known as the leaky gut syndrome.


The term means as much as a permeable gut, and that's the problem: the digestive organ releases harmful substances into the body. "The intestinal wall consists of two layers: Inside is a 3-5 mm thick mucus layer of bacteria, on the outside comes a layer whose cells are closely connected by protein structures," explains internist Stadlbauer, the intense relationship between intestinal barrier and liver and the effects researching the immune system. If this barrier is intact, it holds back everything that should not enter the body and the bloodstream. Nutrients and vitamins are transmitted by the immune system. Due to improper diets such as too much gluten gluten in wheat or excessive sugar as well as frequent antibiotic supplements, constant stress or infectious diseases, these protective bacteria die, causing the cell wall to leak. The result: Harmful substances enter the bloodstream and the portal vein into the liver. An excess of germs and inflammation affects our largest detoxification organ in its main task, which can cause various diseases. The pollutants can penetrate into the brain. There they weaken the brain's own immune cells, the microglia, and cause inflammation: one has a migraine attack. "This insight into the relationship between the dense intestinal barrier and various secondary diseases is still relatively new," says Stadlbauer. "Such theories have been put into the alternative corner so far, but for some years there are scientific methods to prove it, and in 2013 they even won the Nobel Prize."

life quality

That was the keyword for Anita Frauwallner. "I know some migraine patients, and what they told me is like horror stories," says the director of the Graz-based "Institut Allergosan". "Many of the suffering plagues can no longer participate during a seizure in daily life." The expert for rehabilitation probiotics has therefore set itself the goal of isolating the corresponding bacterial strains. For if there are enough of them in our midst, they not only keep our inside tight, they also produce food for the microglia in the brain. The first successes are shown in a study with the corresponding preparation, which has now been published in the journal Beneficial Microbes. A total of 27 subjects with at least four days of pain per month took the migraine preparation for twelve weeks. The result: The seizures reduced by an average of 23 percent. "This success is really impressive," says Frauwallner enthusiastically, "and clearly shows the connection between diseased intestinal flora and migraine."


For all those who now want to do something for their inner self: Even with the daily diet can contribute to an intact bacterial flora. Foods that help can be found below. And a detox cure can work wonders, not just for headaches, skin problems, cellulite and a kilo or too much. It says: abstain from alcohol, sugar, white flour and animal products such as meat and cheese for three weeks. Instead, enough (green) vegetables, potatoes, wholegrain cereals, high-quality oils, algae and spicy plant substances are added to the plate. You will see: The feel-good factor is increasing massively!

Migraine triggers

These triggers can lead to a severe attack of pain. Stress: Anything that bothers the usual daily routine, whether unplanned overtime, conflict in the relationship or an annoying mother-in-law. What exactly stress is, that is individually very different. Hormones: In the days before the rule, estrogen and progesterone levels in the blood drop. In some women, this can lead to headache attacks. Sleep-wake cycle: Stay-through nights and long sleep on weekends disturb the biorhythm. Watch out for a regular daily routine. Alcohol: Not only red wine, other histamine-containing foods and stimulants can trigger migraines. Steer clear of nicotine too. External stimuli & weather: Discolфrm, roar, change of weather: The brain is overwhelmed with the processing of stimuli.

These foods help prevent migraines

The gut and brain are closely linked. Wrong foods can trigger a headache. Conversely, the right ones help to prevent the pain. Papaya: The tropical fruit is full of enzymes that help digestion. It is particularly effective in the recovery of animal protein. Green vegetables: The high content of chlorophyll, the green dye, provides us with plenty of antioxidants that promote digestion. Can also be enjoyed as a smoothie as a smoothie: simply different green leaves (eg spinach, lettuce, cabbage, celery) and puree an apple in a blender and drink. Sweet potato: The sweet-tasting tubers are particularly rich in inulin, a substance that feeds and prolongs the good bacteria in the intestine. Linseed oil: The high number of omega-3 fatty acids has an anti-inflammatory effect and helps seal the cell walls in the intestine. If linseed oil is too bitter, it can also be dodged on olive or rapeseed oil. Attention: Always use cold pressed oils! Sauerkraut: Milk fermented or fermented foods help to regenerate the intestines. These include sauerkraut, pickled carrots or cabbage, as well as Korean kimchi (fermented cabbage). Caution: Should not be pasteurized, it destroys the bacteria. Marine fish: Especially fatty fish (eg tuna, salmon, mackerel) are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. They not only protect the cell walls but are also good for the brain.