If you are one of the 28 million migraine sufferers in the United States, you know that the attacks can cause significant pain for hours to days and be so severe that all you can think about is finding a dark, quiet place to lie down. Migraines can cause intense throbbing or a pulsing sensation in one area of the head and are commonly accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.
Migraines are believed to be caused by a mixture of environmental and genetic factors. About two-thirds of cases run in families. Fluctuating hormone levels may also play a role, as migraines affect slightly more boys than girls before puberty, but about two to three times more women than men.The exact mechanisms of migraine are not known, however, it is believed to be a neurovascular disorder. Here are our top five surprising natural remedies for migraines that may help prevent and reduce the frequency and severity of attacks.
Feverfew is used to prevent migraine headaches, and several scientific studies suggest that it’s effective. Feverfew helps alleviate the throbbing pain by reducing inflammation, especially in the blood vessels in the brain. It can help reduce vomiting and nausea in migraine sufferers who experience those symptoms. A minimum of 200 mg of feverfew per day may be helpful.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Several studies suggest that people who have migraines may reduce how often and how long they last by taking riboflavin. One double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed that taking 400 mg of riboflavin a day cut the number of attacks in half. Foods high in riboflavin include cheese, leafy green vegetables, meat, milk, yogurt, and enriched grains.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an antioxidant naturally produced by the body and from dietary sources. CoQ10 increases blood flow to the brain, improves circulation, and protects cells from oxidative damage. It may also help stabilize blood sugar; low blood sugar is a major trigger for many migraine sufferers. In one trial measuring the efficacy of CoQ10 as a preventive for migraines, more than 61 percent of patients who took 150 mg of CoQ10 daily experienced a greater than 50 percent reduction in the number of days with migraines. Coenzyme Q10 can be found in meats, fish, vegetable oils, parsley, nuts and seeds.
Magnesium helps relax nerves and muscles and transmits nervous impulses through the body and brain. This mineral is believed to aid in the prevention and reduction of migraines. Some research suggests that this may be because migraine sufferers may have low levels of magnesium in their body. 360 mg of elemental magnesium has been taken three times daily for two months for migraines in clinical research. Foods high in magnesium include pumpkin seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, wild Alaskan salmon, halibut, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseeds, amaranth, quinoa, soybeans, and black beans.
Butterbur is a robust flowering plant found in the temperate Northern Hemisphere. The chemicals in butterbur are used to help relieve spasms and decrease inflammation, which can cause headaches. A study showed that patients who took 75 milligrams of butterbur twice daily experienced 48 percent fewer migraines. Butterbur is a toxic plant and should only be ingested by taking a high-quality supplement.