Top 10 Herbs & Supplements for Preventing Migraines

woman suffering from migraine

If you suffer from frequent migraine attacks – you’ve probably spent hours searching for effective treatments or home remedies to bring you relief. There are a number of migraine treatment options out there – from home remedies to traditional medications – but finding the right one can often be elusive. One effective option that has risen in popularity as an alternative treatment for migraines is the use of natural herbs and supplements.

There are a number of popular herbs and supplements that may be beneficial to migraine sufferers. To save you hours of research, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 most effective ones for reducing the frequency and severity of migraines. The following herbs and supplements have risen in popularity because of their effectiveness and the reduced risks associated with them. Lets take a look at what they are and why they’re being used as alternative treatments for migraines:

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Riboflavin – when taken in high doses – has been linked to the prevention of migraines.[1] This important vitamin is essential for building your body’s energy reserves – which can help ward off migraine attacks. It also promotes the production of red blood cells in your body. A lack of red blood cells in the body (anemia) can trigger sever headaches or migraines.

Since Riboflavin is water-soluble, your body will not store it. As such, it is important to replenish your body’s supply daily through diet or supplementation.

Magnesium

Nearly 50% of all migraine sufferers are deficient of magnesium. This important mineral is responsible for over 300 chemical reactions in the body. As such, a lack of it can have a significant effect on the body, potentially resulting in muscle weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and more.

Migraine sufferers often have lower levels of serotonin – a neurotransmitter that has a calming effect on the body and mind. A deficiency of magnesium inhibits the body’s ability to release this calming neurotransmitter. In a study of migraine sufferers receiving magnesium as a treatment, the frequency of migraine attacks was reduced by 42% (compared to 16% in the placebo group).[2]

Feverfew

feverfew herbFeverfew is one of the most popular and effective herbs for reducing the frequency and severity of migraines. It helps by restricting the release of inflammatory substances and reducing inflammation that can restrict blood flow to the brain – a common trigger for migraine. According to researchers at the University of Maryland, patients who took a combination of feverfew, magnesium and B2 experienced a 50% decrease in migraines.[3]

Coenzyme Q10

Like riboflavin, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a critical substance for producing energy in the body. Its primary function is to produce ATP, which helps fuel the body by transporting chemical energy within cells. In addition to this, it also possesses the ability to help reduce the frequency of migraines. According to a clinical trial at Thomas Jefferson University, 62% of patients experienced a 50% decrease in migraines while taking 150 mg of CoQ10 for three months.[4]

MORE: Reduce Migraine Frequency and Increase Energy with Coenzyme Q10

Butterbur

Another herb with great potential to relieve migraines is butterbur. This herb has long been used an alternative medicine to treat pain, headaches, anxiety and other physical ailments.

According to a clinical trial by The Department of Neurology at The University of Gessen in Germany, patients who took butterbur saw a 52% decrease in their migraines.  Butterbur appears to be most effect in higher dosages. According to studies of patients taking the highest dosage (75 mg), two-thirds reported that the frequency of their migraines had been cut in half.[5]

Ginger

ginger-rootGinger is an exciting herb with powerful healing properties. According to some studies, it is as effective as prescription drugs in treating and relieving the symptoms of migraines.[6] Researchers have discovered nine different compounds in ginger that can help relieve pain and inhibit potential triggers that can cause migraines. Ginger can also help reduce nausea and vomiting – two symptoms many sufferers are forced to cope with as a result of their migraines.

MORE: 5 Reasons You Should Be Taking Ginger For Migraines

Gingko Biloba

Gingko biloba herbThis herb has been used as a medicine for over four thousand years! Researchers at the Headache Center in Milan, Italy note that it seems to be “effective as a preventative treatment in reducing migraine attack frequency.”[7] One of the ways gingko biloba helps migraine sufferers is by relieving anxiety – a common trigger for migraines. It also helps improve blood and regulate blood flow in the brain, which not only helps reduce the risk of migraines but also improves thinking, learning and memory.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Vitamin B3 can be effective at preventing a migraine if taken at the onset of symptoms – before the attack becomes a full-blown migraine. One potential cause of migraines is when the blood vessels that carry blood and oxygen to the brain become constricted. This results in a lack of oxygen to the visual center of your brain, often resulting in the aura phase of a migraine (in which you may see lights or dark spots).

As the vessels enlarge to relieve the built up pressure behind the constriction, the pent up blood rushes through to the brain and results in immense pressure that can cause a migraine. If taken in the pre-stages of a migraine, niacin can help by increasing the size of blood vessels before the blood builds up too much – thereby relieving the constriction and allowing normal levels of blood to flow to the brain. If you are already past the pre-stages of a migraine, you should not take niacin as it may make your migraine worse.

MORE: How to Flush Migraines Away with Vitamin B3

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 can help prevent migraines in two ways. First, when taken along with folic acid and vitamin B12, it helps reduce the levels of the amino acid homocysteine in migraine sufferers. Higher levels of homocysteine can cause cellular damage, which may lead to inflammation and increased risk of migraines. Second, vitamin B6 promotes the effective use of serotonin in the body. As we saw earlier, low levels of serotonin are common in migraine sufferers and a lack of it can be a contributing factor in migraine attacks.

MORE: Why Replenishing Vitamin B6 is Crucial to Migraine Prevention

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

fish oil with omega 3 fatty acidsOmega-3 fatty acids can help treat and prevent migraines by reducing inflammation and improving circulation to the brain. In a study of 27 frequent migraine sufferers, those given fish oil (a good source of Omega-3) for 2-months experienced a significant reduction in both the frequency and severity of migraines. After the study, 91% stated that they would recommend fish oil to friends or relatives with headaches.

While everyone will respond differently to each treatment, natural herbs and supplements can be a safe and effective alternative to both treating and preventing migraines. In addition to reducing the severity and frequency of migraine attacks, these natural treatments also assist and support other important functions in your body – leading to a healthier you. What have been the most effective natural approaches for you?

References:

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15257686

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8792038

[3] http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/feverfew

[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11972582

[5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15623680

[6] http://migrainetreatmentgroup.com/migraine-treatment/five-reasons-you-should-be-taking-ginger-for-migraines

[7] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20464618

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