Natural Remedies for Migraine Headaches
Author: ANCP Date Posted:26 May 2016
Migraines can be extremely debilitating, often involving severe pain, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. These horrible symptoms may persist for up to 72 hours, so making changes to help prevent them is a good choice! In this article we’ll outline some of the most common triggers for migraines and discuss some complementary medicines that may help you avoid them.
Identify and avoid your triggers
Over time, many migraine sufferers are able to pinpoint factors that can trigger their attacks, and consequently take steps to avoid or manage them. Common diet and lifestyle triggers include:
- Foods containing high levels of the amino acids tyramine and phenylalanine, such as cheese, nuts, peanut butter, pizza, alcohol and chocolate.
- Foods containing nitrates such as salami and some processed meats.
- Foods that have been aged, fermented, pickled or marinated.
- Stimulants such as coffee, tea, cola, alcohol and nicotine.
- Eating foods that you’re allergic to or intolerant of, such as dairy, citrus and eggs.
- Having low blood sugar.
- Skipped meals.
- Exposure to perfumes and household sprays.
Not everyone will be sensitive to everything on the list here, but it’s worth testing to see if avoiding these triggers helps you.
Feverfew and white willow bark
In European herbal medicine, feverfew has traditionally been used for the treatment of headaches. More recently, it has been the subject of numerous clinical trials, many of which support its reputation as a preventative treatment for migraines. White willow bark has a long history of use as an analgesic, and is often taken to provide symptomatic relief of arthritis symptoms and musculoskeletal pain.
In one small clinical study involving 10 people who suffered from migraines (without aura), a combination of feverfew and white willow bark taken for a period of 12 weeks led to significantly reduced frequency, intensity and duration of migraine attacks. Improvements were noted six weeks into the treatment, with further improvements experienced over the subsequent six weeks. By the end of the study, all patients had experienced significant improvements in the duration and intensity of their migraines, and the frequency of attacks was reduced significantly in nine of the ten patients.
Some small clinical trials have shown that taking at least 150 mg of coenzyme Q10 daily for three months may reduce the duration of migraine headaches and nausea and the frequency with which migraines occur.
Research has shown that people who get migraines have lower blood levels of magnesium than non-migraine sufferers. It is believed that this may contribute to migraines by causing blood vessels in the head to go into spasm and promoting the release of compounds involved in the perception of pain. Two clinical trials using high dose magnesium have found that it may reduce the frequency and/or duration of migraine headaches. Magnesium may also be particularly beneficial for women who experience premenstrual migraines.
Several studies have shown that high doses (400 mg/day) of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) may help prevent migraines and decrease their duration.