Natural Migraine Remedies
Natural cures for migraine headaches
A 2009 article in the Clinical Journal of Pain identified several strategies for using home, natural, and dietary remedies to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine headaches. The first natural cure for migraine headaches everyone should consider is identifying and avoiding dietary triggers. Using a detailed dietary log can identify if one or more several likely substances are bringing on migraine headaches. These include:
Monosodium glutamate (MSG), the most widely used flavor enhancer in the world. MSG is found in many common food additives, including hydrolyzed protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, yeast extract, and sodium and calcium caseinates. "Natural flavorings," bouillon, broth, and seasoning and spices can all contain MSG.
Tyramine is a naturally occurring compound found in aged, smoked, pickled, or fermented foods or beverages; smoked meats and cheeses are typical sources.
Nitrates and nitrates , also found in smoked or aged meats, are established as migraine triggers as well.
Phenethylamine is also found in fermented foods and chocolate; dietary supplements to improve mood and weight loss may also contain it.
Aspartame , also known as NutraSweet®, and other artificial sweeteners are also headache triggers.
Alcohol and caffeine are also identified by many migraine sufferers as triggers.
In addition to avoiding known dietary triggers, natural cures for migraine include several dietary supplements. The supplement of first choice is magnesium. Several studies show that, in adults between the ages of 18 and 65 with migraine headaches, magnesium supplementation reduces the frequency, intensity and duration of headaches. A daily dose of 600 mg. in otherwise healthy adults was effective. Side effects include stomach irritation, diarrhea, and muscle weakness. Increasing doses gradually can help prevent diarrhea. However, magnesium should be used with caution in people with heart, kidney, or liver disease.
Butterbur ( petasites hybridus ) is a shrub like herb that was tested in controlled trials in Europe involving nearly 300 patients. An extract from the roots of the herb, when used in a dose of 150 mg a day over 3 to 4 months reduced the frequency of migraine attacks. People with allergies to ragweed or other plants in the ragweed family should not use butterbur.
Feverfew ( tanacetum parthenium ) is a member of the sunflower family and, in doses of 50 to 82 mg per day, was effective at reducing the frequency of migraines. Other sources suggest the dosage of 100 to 300 mg per day of a formulation containing at least 0.2% of the active compound, parthenolide. As with all herbal preparations, variations in the way formulations are prepared makes it difficult to precisely identify an effective dose.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a substance necessary for the basic functioning of human cells. A small study of the use of CoQ10 in preventing migraines found that, in two of three patients, 100 mg three times a day reduced the frequency of migraines by 50% or more. However, CoQ10 has not been extensively studied. Riboflavin or vitamin B2 is another substance that occurs naturally as part of a well-rounded diet; at a dose of 400 mg per day, it was better than a placebo at reducing headaches. Slightly less than half of patients taking riboflavin experienced a 50% or greater reduction in the number of days with a headache.
Alpha lipoic acid , found in fish oil, can prevent spasms in blood vessels. It has been suggested that alpha lipoic acid could prevent migraines, as well, but evidence of its effectiveness is sparse. However, given that fish oil has numerous other health benefits, dietary supplementation is a potential natural alternative to migraine medications with few side effects and the capacity to improve overall health.
Natural remedies, including herbs and dietary supplements, can interact with prescription medications of all types. Certain conditions, such as heart, liver, and kidney disease, can make taking natural cures for migraines dangerous. Always check with your physician before starting any herbal remedy or diet supplement and always list it among your medications when asked.