Suffering from migraine headaches and can't find a cure? There may be natural
remedies that may help. Here are some holistic interventions that have been
shown to reduce migraines.
Feverfew: In supplement form _ as long as it contains at least 0.2 percent
parthenolides _ 100 to 150 milligrams a day may work in reducing migraines.
Feverfew has been shown to be effective in numerous studies for migraine
Butterbur: A small 2004 study found that patients who took 75 milligrams of
butterbur twice daily had around 50 percent fewer migraines, compared with a 25
percent decrease experienced by people given only a placebo. The chemicals in
butterbur are thought to decrease muscle spasms and inflammation in the blood
vessels of the brain, which can cause headaches,
Ginger: Ginger can help in two ways _ as an anti-inflammatory and as an
anti-nausea medication. Fresh ginger appears to work the best; you can try to
smell freshly crushed ginger for nausea, or steep some in hot water for a tea.
Ginger ale, unfortunately, does not work for migraines.
Caffeine: Caffeine can both worsen and improve a headache, so use this remedy
wisely. Caffeine-rebound headaches are common sources of migraines, but a cup of
tea or coffee may help relieve a migraine.
Magnesium: According to a study by the University of Maryland, people with
migraines often have lower levels of magnesium than those who don't have
migraines. Studies suggest that magnesium may reduce frequency by more than 40
percent, compared with 15 percent in those who took a placebo. Other studies
suggest magnesium may be particularly helpful for women with menstrual
migraines. Starting doses can be 200 to 600 milligrams per day.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): Some studies show that this vitamin may also be helpful
in reducing the frequency of migraines at a dose of 400 milligrams a day. Note
that riboflavin can interfere with some medications such as antidepressants,
anti-seizure drugs and medications for gout.
Exercise: Researchers found that aerobic exercise was as effective at preventing
migraines as the preventive migraine medication topiramate. In a 2011
randomized, controlled study from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, some
patients in the three-month study exercised on a stationary bike three times per
week for 40 minutes, while others took topiramate. The exercisers and drug group
were equally effective in reducing migraines, but 33 percent of topiramate users
also experienced adverse side effects of the medication.
5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP): Research by the Harvard Medical School and the
Natural standard suggests that 5-HTP may be particularly effective in reducing
both the severity and frequency of migraine headaches. This is thought to work
as 5-HTP increases the body's production of serotonin, and low serotonin levels
have been associated with migraines. Supplementation is at 200 to 600 milligrams
a day on 5-HTP for migraine prevention.
Coenzyme Q10: This antioxidant may help prevent migraines. Studies, including a
double-blind, randomized trial showed that more than 60 percent of patients who
took 150 milligrams of CoQ10 daily experienced a 50 percent or better reduction
in the number of days with migraines.
If you have new-onset headaches, a change in frequency or intensity, or any
neurological symptoms, you should speak with your doctor before trying any
remedies. A new or increasing headache may be a sign of an underlying medical
problem, and needs to be evaluated prior to chronic treatment for presumed
(Drs. Kay Judge and Maxine Barish-Wreden are medical directors of Sutter
Downtown Integrative Medicine program in Sacramento, Calif. Have a question
related to alternative medicine? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
(c)2013 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)
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