Herbal Migraine Treatment
by Lacey Louwagie
According to the National Headache Foundation, about 30 million Americans suffer from migraines, many of whom have not received proper diagnosis or treatment. While effective medications exist, there also are herbal and other natural migraine treatments. Most herbs and supplements used to treat migraines can be purchased over the counter.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, 100 to 300 mg of feverfew, taken up to four times daily, can reduce migraines. Feverfew leaf is one of the longest-standing herbal treatments for migraine. It works by inhibiting inflammation and reducing blood vessel spasms associated with migraines. In addition to reducing the frequency and severity of migraine attacks, it also can relieve other migraine symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting. Seventy percent of migraine sufferers in one study reported fewer or less severe migraines while using feverfew. Although you can take feverfew during an attack, it works best with continuous use. Feverfew is available as fresh or dried herbs or in capsule, liquid extract or tea forms.
Some people report relief of migraine symptoms after inhaling the aroma of essential oils made with herbs. Rosemary, lavender, marjoram and peppermint all have been identified as having the potential for migraine relief. To use, dab the essential oil on the forehead or neck during a migraine and inhale deeply. However, use aromatherapy with caution, as strong odors can trigger a migraine in some sufferers.
St. John's Wort
Although few studies specifically link St. John's Wort to migraine relief, several have shown it to be effective in treating minor to moderate depression, according to the Mayo Clinic. And there is a strong link between migraines and depression--traditional antidepressants can effectively manage migraine symptoms for many people--herbal medications that are effective in treating depression may also be helpful with migraines.
5-HTP is present in the body as a precursor to serotonin production and can be taken as a supplement to regulate serotonin levels. Because a drop in serotonin can cause migraines--and because migraine sufferers often have low levels of serotonin--5-HTP may work similarly to antidepressants in reducing or preventing migraines. A common dosage for treating migraines is 200 to 600 mg a day, taken in capsule form.
Two clinical trials revealed that taking approximately 150mg per day of the supplement Coenzyme Q10 reduced migraine frequency and severity in over 50 percent of study participants, according to the American Family Physician.
Although you can purchase most herbs and supplements without a prescription, it is still important to check with your doctor about natural remedies. They generally have fewer side effects than medication, but they may interact with drugs or affect other health conditions. In addition, most data about herbal migraine treatments is anecdotal, with fewer controlled studies than with traditional medications.