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Medicinal herbs & supplements for Migraines?


Natural Remedies Headaches and Migraines


If you are like me, when that headache or migraine hits, you will take almost anything you can find to get rid of it. However, one big thing is sometimes missed in medicine. Prevention.

We are very good at treating things acutely (when they come on abruptly) but sometimes we as providers and patients forget, we need to prevent these episodes from happening.


Headaches are a very common cause of disruption to our daily lives and hinder productivity both at work and at home. While over-the-counter pain relievers are readily available, many individuals prefer exploring natural alternatives to manage their headaches. Natural supplements have gained popularity as potential remedies for headaches, offering a holistic approach to alleviate pain without relying on pharmaceuticals.


First off, and I will mention this again later, just because something is "natural" doesn't mean that there are no side effects. It also doesn't mean that there aren't any interactions with medications you are on or with certain diseases you may have. Take this as a starting point and work with myself or your provider to discuss where the best place is to start.


1. Magnesium:

Magnesium is an essential mineral known for its numerous health benefits, including its potential to ease headaches. Several studies have shown a correlation between magnesium deficiency and migraines. A systematic review of clinical trials by Holland et al. (2012) found that magnesium supplementation effectively reduced the frequency and severity of migraines. Incorporating magnesium-rich foods such as spinach, almonds, and black beans, or taking magnesium supplements, may help alleviate headaches.


2. Feverfew:

Feverfew is an herb traditionally used to treat headaches, particularly migraines. Research suggests that feverfew may help reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines. A study conducted by Pittler et al. (2004) examined six randomized controlled trials and concluded that feverfew significantly reduced the frequency of migraines in comparison to a placebo. Feverfew supplements are available in various forms, such as capsules or teas, making it convenient for individuals seeking natural headache relief.


FYI: Feverfew is relatively bitter and earthy as a tea, so if you like to sip on sweet teas, this won't be your jam.


3. Butterbur:

Butterbur, a plant extract derived from the Petasites hybridus shrub, has demonstrated promise in managing migraines. Numerous clinical trials have explored butterbur's effectiveness, including a study by Lipton et al. (2004). They found that participants taking butterbur experienced a significant reduction in the frequency of migraines compared to a placebo. However, a reason to potentially steer clear from this extract is some butterbur products may contain liver-toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Therefore, it is crucial to choose butterbur supplements that are certified and free of these compounds.


4. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10):

CoQ10 is a naturally occurring antioxidant found in our bodies. It plays a vital role in energy production within cells and has been investigated for its potential in migraine prevention. A randomized controlled trial by Rozen et al. (2002) demonstrated that CoQ10 supplementation significantly reduced the frequency of migraines. CoQ10 can be obtained through dietary sources like organ meats, oily fish, and nuts, or by taking supplements.


5. Willow Bark:

Willow bark, also known as Salix albla, is the outer bark of several species of willow trees. It has been used for many centuries. Willow bark has been used historically for its pain-relieving properties alongside anti-inflammatory and fever reduction properties. Due to these properties, it can be helpful for many conditions including headaches, arthritis and menstrual cramps.


There are many forms, including capsules, tablets, teas and topical preparations.


There may be some other health benefits to willow bark including reduction in blood pressure, improving skin conditions like acne and eczema.


The biggest thing to mention about willow bark, is its active compound salicin, is similar to the active ingredient acetylsalicylic acid in Aspirin. Therefore, this remedy should be avoided for those on blood thinning medications or with blood disorders or kidney disease or if a history of allergic reaction to Aspirin.


6. Ginger:

Ginger, renowned for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, has long been used to alleviate various types of pain, including migraines. Its active components, gingerols and shogaols, may help reduce the production of inflammatory substances in the body and block pain receptors. Incorporating ginger into your diet, either by adding it to meals, consuming ginger tea, or taking ginger supplements, may provide relief from migraine symptoms.


7. Peppermint:

Peppermint, known for its refreshing scent and cooling properties, can also be effective in combating migraines. The menthol present in peppermint acts as a muscle relaxant and may help alleviate tension headaches, which can often precede migraines. Applying peppermint oil to the temples or inhaling its aroma can provide a soothing effect and potentially reduce the severity of migraines.



In conclusion, I know this is just breaking the skin on options for natural headache and migraine prevention, but it's a place to start. Trying some of these natural remedies can be easier than you think, especially tea formulations and topical oils/lotions that integrate a few of these options together.


With the access to the world wide web and Amazon, please make sure you obtain your supplements from a well- known brand-name or distributor. If you don't know, look up a local naturopathic shop near you for herbs and look at your local pharmacy as well for other supplements. Additives and unregulated levels of herbs/supplements could lead to serious health side effects.


While natural supplements may offer a holistic approach to alleviating headaches, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating them into your routine, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking medication. Additionally, individual responses to natural supplements may vary, so it's important to monitor your body's reaction to ensure they are beneficial for you.


Remember, natural supplements should not replace professional medical advice or prescribed medications, and again, although yes, they are "natural" that does not translate to "unharmful".

Nevertheless, when used appropriately and in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle, these natural alternatives may provide relief for those seeking a more holistic approach to managing headaches.


Thanks so much for reading Moderni Minutes!


-PA Cynthia


Need treatment for your headaches or migraines? Come see me for an evaluation and learn about multi-options to get you focusing on you and not your pain.




References:

1. Holland, S., Silberstein, S. D., Freitag, F., Dodick, D. W., Argoff, C., & Ashman, E. (2012). Evidence-based guideline update: NSAIDs and other complementary treatments for episodic migraine prevention in adults: Report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society. Neurology, 78(17), 1346-1353.

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