Migraines: An Ounce of Prevention…

by Dr. Julian Whitaker
Filed Under: Nutritional Support, General Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

If you’re one of the millions who suffer with migraines, you know that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Earlier this year, the American Academy of Neurology updated their migraine prevention guidelines. As expected, their recommendations include prescription drugs such as seizure meds, beta-blockers, and NSAIDs.

But they also highlighted a handful of natural therapies for reducing the severity and frequency of attacks—all of which I heartily endorse. They include:

  1. Butterbur. A realistic goal for migraine sufferers is to cut their headache frequency by half—and clinical trials show that the herb butterbur (Petasites hybridus) does just that. And, in a German study involving 60 migraine sufferers, butterbur extract reduced the frequency of migraine attacks by 60 percent, compared with placebo. Sixteen percent of those given butterbur experienced no migraines at all during the final 8 weeks of this 12-week study. I recommend 50 mg twice a day.

  2. Magnesium. Research suggests that at least half of people who get migraines have low levels of magnesium in their bodies. This isn’t surprising since magnesium concentrations affect neurotransmitters and receptors in the brain. Supplemental magnesium has also been shown to lessen the frequency of migraines. I recommend taking 500–1,000 mg daily.

    In addition, IV magnesium is useful for knocking out acute headaches. Researchers from the State University of New York in Brooklyn treated 49 patients with migraines, cluster headaches, and chronic tension headaches with an IV infusion of 1 gram of magnesium sulfate. Within 15 minutes, 80 percent of them had complete resolution of pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound.
     
  3. Feverfew. This herb has been used for centuries to treat migraines. It works by decreasing the production of prostaglandin, an inflammatory agent which contributes to the onset of migraines. Several double-blind studies have confirmed the effectiveness of feverfew in preventing and decreasing the frequency and intensity of attacks. The recommended dose is 150 mg daily.
     
  4. Vitamin B2. Also known as riboflavin, this water-soluble vitamin has been demonstrated to be another useful way to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. The suggested dose is 400 mg daily.

I’d also like to tell you about one more natural therapy worth adding to your arsenal: acupuncture.

A review of 22 studies involving more than 4,400 participants clinically diagnosed with migraines showed that acupuncture reduced both symptom intensity and headache frequency. Compared to drugs or placebo treatments, acupuncture was consistently more effective. Benefits were noted in those who received regular treatments as well as those suffering from acute attacks.

Now it’s your turn: Do you have any migraine prevention techniques you’d like to share?

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