The effects of a multispecies probiotic supplement on inflammatory markers and episodic and chronic migraine characteristics: A randomized double-blind controlled trial

Cephalalgia. 2019 Jun;39(7):841-853. doi: 10.1177/0333102418820102. Epub 2019 Jan 8.


Background: The current study was designed to assess the effect of supplementation with a 14-strain probiotic mixture on episodic and chronic migraine characteristics.

Methods: Forty episodic and 39 chronic migraine patients who completed this randomized double-blind controlled trial received two capsules of multispecies probiotic or placebo. The migraine severity was assessed by visual analog scale (VAS). The number of abortive drugs consumed, migraine days, frequency and duration of attacks were recorded on paper-based headache diaries. Serum tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and C- reactive protein (CRP) levels were measured at baseline and the end of the intervention.

Results: After a 10-week intervention, among episodic migraineurs the mean frequency of migraine attacks significantly reduced in the probiotic group compare to the placebo group (mean change: -2.64 vs. 0.06; respectively, p < 0.001). A significant reduction was also evident in the migraine severity (mean decrease: -2.14 in the probiotic group and 0.11 in the placebo group; p < 0.001). Episodic migraineurs who received the probiotic also showed significant reduction in abortive drug usage per week (mean change: -0.72; p < 0.001) compare to baseline, while there was no significant changes within the placebo group. In chronic migraine patients, after an 8-week intervention, the mean frequency of migraine attacks significantly reduced in the probiotic compared to the placebo group (mean change: -9.67 vs. -0.22; p ≤ 0.001). In contrast to the placebo, probiotic supplementation significantly decreased the severity (mean changes: -2.69; p ≤ 0.001), duration (mean changes: -0.59; p ≤ 0.034) of attacks and the number of abortive drugs taken per day (mean changes: -1.02; p < 0.001), in chronic migraine patients. We failed to detect any significant differences in the serum levels of inflammatory markers at the end of the study either in chronic or in episodic migraineurs.

Discussion: The results of this study showed that the 14-strain probiotic mixture could be an effective and beneficial supplement to improve migraine headache in both chronic and episodic migraineurs. Further research is required to confirm our observations.

Keywords: Gut integrity; inflammation; migraine; migraine treatment; probiotics.