Can probiotics cause headaches? Some people report headaches after taking a probiotic supplement or consuming fermented food. What is the reason for this? How can it be prevented?
Interesting is that several studies indicate that probiotics often help prevent headaches and that the so-called “probiotic headaches” often have a another explanation.
Why probiotics cause headaches
Headaches after consuming fermented foods or a probiotic supplement can be caused by the following.
First, probiotics can trigger a headache if probiotic bacteria stimulate the body to eliminate toxins and chemicals, mostly in fatty tissue. To eliminate waste, the body uses several exit routes like the skin, the colon, and urination. Therefore, symptoms can vary depending on which exit route is activated, but headaches are common.
Beneficial bacteria help eliminate harmful microorganisms in the digestive tract (and elsewhere). And when harmful microorganisms die, they can release toxins causing headaches, muscle aches, skin rash, and other.
Bottom line: probiotics can cause headaches or a migraine when harmful microorganisms are destroyed and waste removed. Such symptoms are harmless. In the case of candida overgrowth or an infection, headaches might come and go over several weeks, until it is under control.
Avoiding headaches from probiotics
Try lowering the probiotic dose or the amount of fermented food consumed. This can minimize or completely remove symptoms until the gut environment has improved.
- No side effects means the gut is well
Each person has a unique gut and a unique reaction to probiotics. Most people don’t feel a thing while others get minor reactions. Strong reactions are rare but can occur in case of infections or if the gut is in a poor state. For some, drinking fresh vegetable juice helps and bone broths are great.
Headaches from biogenic amines
Another reason why probiotics cause headaches is that commercially produced fermented foods can contain high levels of biogenic amines.
Amines are created when certain bacteria break down amino acids in vegetables. Some people are sensitive to amines and therefore develop headaches after consuming such foods. In such cases, it’s not entirely correct to say that probiotics trigger headaches.
The two amines responsible for most headaches:
- Tyramine: present in some commercial yogurt, aged cheese, red wine, sauerkraut, soy sauce and other products.
- Histamine: present in some commercial sauerkraut, vinegar, chocolate and other products.
Besides headaches, adverse reactions to amines include:
- Stomach problems
- Skin rash
- Many more
Avoiding headaches from amines
- Avoid canned, processed foods
- Buy, cook, and consume only fresh food
- Spoiled food can contain high amounts of amines
- Keep a food diary to identify causing of headaches
Probiotic supplements do not contain amines. However, low-quality supplements can contain artificial coating, soy, wheat, gluten and other substances, which for sensitive ones can trigger headaches.
Homemade fermented food safer
Interestingly, studies show that homemade fermented vegetables contain low amounts of amines, too low to cause a reaction in most people. The reason is that other kinds of bacteria are involved in the fermentation process at home. The use of a good starter culture ensures this.
Summary: two reasons why probiotics cause headaches
- Probiotics cause headaches when improving the gut environment and destroying harmful microorganisms. Side effects are harmless and quickly disappear. However, some infections and inflammations can cause symptoms to last longer.
- Many commercially fermented foods contain biogenic amines that can trigger headaches and migraine in sensitive persons. Probiotic supplements and homemade fermented food are safer.