Wednesday, November 07, 2007

6 herbs & supplements for migraine prevention

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Researchers have been studying the efficacy of herbs and supplements for migraine prevention for a number of years. Studies suggest that most of them hold promise for migraineurs looking to reduce the frequency of their attacks. Some of the most often discussed options include: feverfew, butterbur, magnesium, B2 / riboflavin, 5-HTP and CoQ10. Keep reading for detailed information about the research on each one.


No less than six double blind studies have established the efficacy of feverfew in preventing migraines. It has been used for centuries as a headache remedy. Experts recommend taking 100 to 300 mg up to four times daily for at least one to two months.


Studies have established the efficacy of butterbur for migraine prevention. In a 2000 study published in the journal Headache, patients taking 50 mg of butterbur twice daily experienced 50% fewer migraines while the placebo group experienced 10% fewer migraines. In a 2002 study published in the journal Neurology, patients taking 150 mg of butterbur experienced 48% fewer migraines, which was a significantly larger reduction than was experienced by the placebo group.

Experts recommend taking 75 mg of butterbur twice daily with food. Patients should know whether the herb is having an effect within a month.


A large number of double blind studies have shown that magnesium is often helpful as a migraine prophylactic. Experts recommend patients take 600 mg a day for at least two months.

B2 / Riboflavin

A 2003 double blind study of the efficacy of riboflavin for migraine prevention showed a statistically significant reduction in migraine frequency and intensity for patients taking riboflavin when compared to the control group receiving placebo. The patients self-reported their attacks, however, which can somewhat limit the accuracy of the results as patients may tend to overestimate the benefits of a drug. Experts recommend taking 400 mg of riboflavin per day. Results are seen within one month, but optimal effects were achieved at three months.


While a couple of studies have established that 5-HTP is as effective as certain pharmaceuticals in preventing migraines, no double blind studies have been conducted to establish the efficacy of the supplement. For this reason I'm disinclined to suggest anyone try this as anything other than a last resort unless your doctor sees a reason to try it.


At least one solid study has established the use of CoQ10 for migraine prevention. A study presented at the 2004 annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology showed that about a third of patients in the study responded to the supplement and had fewer attacks and less severe attacks while on it. Patients took 100 mg of a liquid form of CoQ10 three times a day. Researchers cautioned that the same results could not be expected with the widely available pill form of CoQ10.

Feverfew in Migraine
Feverfew for Migraine
Randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial of feverfew in migraine prevention
Find Migraine Relief with Butterbur
Herb Holds Promise for Migraine Prevention
Magnesium in the Prevention of Migraine
Prophylaxis of Migraine with Oral Magnesium
High-Dose Riboflavin for Prophylaxis of Migraine
Riboflavin for Migraine Prophylaxis
5-HTP: Check Before You Swallow
Natural Remedies for Migraine Relief
Coenzyme Q10 May Ward Off Migraine Attacks

As always, please do not start taking any of these herbs or supplements without discussing it first with your doctor. Some of these can interact with other medications you are already taking or may otherwise be inappropriate for your unique situation.

Have any of you had particularly good luck with one of these options or a combination of them? Please share your stories in the comments.

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