Investigating herbal medicine and vitamins might be useful if you suffer from migraines. Both patients and physicians are concerned about medication overuse, and patients sometimes are unsure when they should even take prescribed meds. When your head hurts, it is hard to gauge whether the pain is mild or moderate and when you need to up your dosage of a prescription painkiller. Checking out nutraceutical treatments, especially as a preventative option, might be just what you are looking for.
Nutraceutical treatments include vitamins and minerals, along with herbal and other nutritional supplements like coenzyme Q10 or alpha lipoic acid. There have been a number of randomized controlled trials where nutraceutical treatments were used to treat migraine patients. Though side effects from these treatments and potential drug interactions with other prescribed medications always need to be a consideration, there have been few worth noting:
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
In one study, 60 migraine patients were treated sublingually (i.e., under the tongue) with an herbal combination of feverfew and ginger during the early stages of mild headache. Within 2 hours, over 60 percent found relief from the pain. The side effects noted from this treatment included nausea and some temporary tongue numbness.
Butterbur (Petasites hybridus)
A randomized double-blind clinical study revealed a 60 percent reduction in migraine attacks when migraine patients were given a standardized butterbur root extract as a preventative therapy compared to those given a placebo. Side effects noted were mild gastrointestinal episodes, such as burping.
Riboflavin, coenzyme Q10, and magnesium
130 participants ages 18-65 were given 150 mg coenzyme Q10, 600 mg magnesium, and 400 mg riboflavin daily in a low-dose multivitamin for a 3-month period, but these supplements did not reduce the number of migraine attacks initially. However, after continuing with the therapy for a three-month period, participants experienced a reduction in the pain level and frequency of migraine attacks. The only side effects noted were some diarrhea and abdominal discomfort, most likely due to the magnesium (known for its laxative effect). Studies show that the levels of these nutrients are often low in the brains of migraine patients, and given that they are needed for energy production in the brain’s mitochondria, it’s clear that a deficit could play a role in migraine attacks. Further, commonly prescribed drugs like valproic acid, topiramate, flunarizine, and metoprolol that are often used preventatively in the treatment of migraines have potential side effects, some of which might be severe. In light of this, opting for a natural preventative treatment with mild side effects seems promising.
Alternative remedies like feverfew, butterbur root, and riboflavin/coenzyme Q10/magnesium offer preventative options with fewer and milder side effects than many conventional prescription drugs. Taking your researched information to your doctor and discussing if these alternative treatments might work for you is a good plan to ensure that there are no drug interaction issues with your current medications. Doctorpedia supports educated and open conversations between patients and doctors to ensure your best health ever!
- Cady, R.K., Goldstein, J., Nett, R., Mitchell, R., Beach, M.E., & Browning, R. (2011). A double-blind placebo-controlled pilot study of sublingual feverfew and ginger (LipiGesic™ M) in the treatment of migraine. Headache 51(7), 1078-86. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21631494
- D’Onofrio, F., Raimo, S., Spitaleri, D., Casucci, G., & Bussone, G. (2017). Usefulness of nutraceuticals in migraine prophylaxis. Neurological Science 38(Suppl. 1), 117-20. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28527067
- Gaul, C., Diener, H., Danesch, U., & the Migravent Study Group. (2015). Improvement of migraine symptoms with a proprietary supplement containing riboflavin, magnesium and Q10: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicenter trial. Journal of Headache Pain 16, 32. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4393401/
- Grossman, W., & Schmidramsl, H. (2001). An extract of Petasites hybridus is effective in the prophylaxis of migraine.Alternative Medicine Review 6(3), 303-10. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11410074
- Lipton, R.B., Göbel, H., Einhäupl, K.M., Wilks, K., & Mauskop, A. (2004). Petasites hybridus root (butterbur) is an effective preventive treatment for migraine. Neurology 63(12), 2240-4. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15623680
- Weatherall, M.W. (2015). The diagnosis and treatment of chronic migraine.Therapeutic Advances in Chronic Disease 6(3), 115-123. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4416971/
Nan Kuhlman is an author, freelance writer, and part-time university professor based in Los Angeles, CA. She currently works full-time as a technical writer in Los Angeles and part-time as an online adjunct writing instructor. She has written for scholarly publications like the University of California, Davis Writing on the Edge and Chapman University’s Anastamos Interdisciplinary Journal, among others.