Every single part of our body interacts with other parts. Our nerves, muscles, and blood vessels (to name just a few) form a part of a complex system that relies on communication. This communication is particularly relevant when it comes to abdominal migraine and the gut-brain axis.
Abdominal migraine is slightly different from the migraine condition you may be familiar with. Whilst the latter usually involves headaches, abdominal migraine entails the recurrence of intense stomach aches. This type of migraine is most frequently suffered by children. These youngsters usually experience abdominal migraine between the ages of 5 and 9, before growing up into adults who then suffer from migraine. But what causes abdominal migraine? Well, it has something to do with the gut-brain axis…
The Gut-Brain Axis
The gut-brain axis refers to the relationship between gastrointestinal system (basically everything involved in eating and digesting food, and removing waste) and the CNS (Central Nervous System). Although we usually shy away from bacteria, the gut contains millions and millions of micro-organisms which are actually really important to the healthy functioning of our digestive systems. They also communicate with the brain in two main ways:
- Neurotransmitters: The micro-organisms in the gut produce chemicals known as neurotransmitters. These chemical messages enter the blood stream where they travel through our blood vessels all the way up to the brain. They then have a specific impact on the brain, affecting its functioning significantly.
- The Vagus Nerve: This is a type of nerve which is primarily responsible for connecting the brain and the gut. It is especially important for the role it plays in controlling how the brain receptors are expressed.
What has the gut-brain axis got to do with migraine?
Because the gut and the brain engage in constant communications with each other, many scientists believe that improving gut health may help the management of migraine. For example, one study used probiotics (supplements containing live microorganisms) with bacteria known to maintain and happy and healthy gut. Their findings? A reduction in the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks!
Research into the gut-brain axis is becoming more and more thorough. As scientists collect more data, they will move closer to establishing the exact relationship between abdominal migraine and the gut-brain axis. From this, potential treatments and management techniques can arise!