Top 6 Supplements for Migraines

Are you keen to prevent your attacks using supplements for migraines or something more natural than pain killers? Here are the top six most effective and scientifically proven supplements for migraines according to the American Headache Society in their PubMed publication.

In descending order of preference:

1. Magnesium

Magnesium is the second most abundant mineral in our human cells and it is the most likely mineral for us to be deficient in being migraine sufferers.

It helps the body regulate over 325 enzymes and plays a vital role in organizing important bodily functions like muscle control and the all important electrical impulses.

This is important to calm our electrical 'storms' where we migraineurs are concerned. It also assists in energy production and the detoxification processes that occur naturally in our bodies. Magnesium is vital to include in your selection of supplements for migraines.

A headache can result from magnesium deficiency alone. There are numerous studies that confirm magnesium supplementation results in significantly fewer migraine attacks following on with a reduction in medications required. Yeah! According to my Neurologist the daily recommended dose can range from 200 to 800 milligrams depending on bowel tolerance.

Magnesium Pushes

I tried magnesium pushes for 18 months. This is where it is slowly injected into your blood stream to assist in stopping a migraine attack. It made me very hot and faint a few times. Afterwards, I felt significantly better energy wise and my cognitive function felt sharp. I never caught a cold.

Consequently, it never worked to abort my migraines, even though I went regularly every week. It does, however, have a successful track record for many migraineurs. I recommend you give it a try.

My current Doctor says that taking an Epsom salt bath is one of the fastest and easiest ways to help the magnesium exchange in the body. In the summer months, when it’s just too hot to bathe, she puts me on Epsom salt cream.

It is Magnesium Sulphate 25% topical cream made up (10x10mls) by a compounding chemist and comes in a syringe like delivery system – with no needle. The directions are to apply 1 ml daily and rub well into the inner wrist, behind the knees or the top of the back. It must be refrigerated to maintain a cream like consistency.

I also take NOW brand Calcium and Magnesium supplements (2 at dinner) that I buy from www.iherb.com. You can use my code HAZ215 to save $5 US dollars on your first order. I find iherb the best really. I do most of my shopping for supplements for migraines there now. Oh and the best magnesium to get is diglycinated (not oxide).



2. Butterbur (Petadolex) - Petasites hybridus

I first heard of this root extract from my nutritionist friend and she recommended Life Extension brand. Please see below for Life Extension’s recommended prevention and acute doses. There are numerous studies that prove its efficacy with migraines. One four month study with 245 migraine sufferers found that the frequency of attacks was reduced by 68 percent for those receiving 75 milligrams of the supplement twice a day when compared with a placebo.

I trialled 75mgs of Butterbur twice a day for over 18 months but am sad to report it did not reduce my migraine occurrences or their intensity. But most studies I found showed positive results where Butterbur is being used.



Notes From My Little Pink Card System

Butterbur to prevent migraines:

1. 75 mg twice a day

For an acute attack:

1. 100 mgs every 3 hours for the first 3 doses
2. Vitamin B2 400 mgs every morning
3. CoQ10 200 mgs
4. Magnesium Sulphate 200-400 mgs twice per day unless loose stools (reached bowel tolerance).

For Maintenance:

50 mgs 1 – three times a day for one month;

Then 1 – twice a day for 18 months is safe.

You can take 2 every 3 hours up to 6 caps for acute migraine. Use Enzymatic Therapy brand, Life Extension or Phyto Pharmica brands for pure butterbur. Again from www.iherb.com I find them reliable.

They also have a product called Migra-Eeze which is a combination of B2, Butterbur and Ginger, which I can also recommend trying.




3. Feverfew - Tanacetum
parthenium

100 mgs taken up to 4 times a day is recommended for migraines. Feverfew has been proven to reduce headaches, plus the active ingredient, parthenolide, prevents blood vessel constriction and reduces the inflammatory process in the body which can reduce migraine attacks. Make sure your supplement has been standardized for parthenolide content, as they are pretty much useless without it.

Warning: Do not use if pregnant (or use very low dose according to your practitioners advice) or if you have any allergies in the ragweed family.

Now we already know that not every supplement will work for everyone, each migraine is as individual as each individual! More specifically for migraine – according to Dr. Alexander Mauskop, Neurologist and director of the New York Headache Center, recommends daily doses of feverfew up to 600 milligrams.

You will have to check with your health care provider or naturopath about the right dose for you. If you do trial it yourself, be sure to keep track. Print off our medication tracker to help with this.

4. Co-enzyme Q10

The recommended dose for CoQ10 is 300 mgs three times a day. That sounds like a lot doesn’t it. Many studies find that half of the migraine sufferers treated with this antioxidant experiences fewer attacks and less nausea than the control group after three months of treatment.

My migraines intensified when I trailed CoQ10, but again, try it yourself. Your body might like it.

5. Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin

Most doctors will recommend 200 mgs (milligrams) of B2-Riboflavin twice a day. This 400 mgs dose has been studied and found to help a significant number of patients with migraines. I took this for 18 months until my skin turned orange, and then my doctor took me off it.

My current doctor has me trying a newer bio-active form of B2 called Riboflavin 5-Phosphate. Vitamin B2 is essential for activating and converting the other B vitamins. It is required for the activation of vitamin B6, the conversion of tryptophan to niacin, and the conversion of folate to its various active forms.

It is also essential for fat and glucose metabolism, red blood cell synthesis, and the production and regulation of certain hormones. This makes it one of the top supplements for migraines.

Dr. Mauskop recommends combining these four supplements for migraines for a more beneficial effect (PubMed.com):

50 milligrams of feverfew,
200 milligrams of riboflavin (B2),
150 milligrams of co-enzyme Q10 and
200 milligrams of magnesium, taken twice a day with food.

As with any treatment regimen, you should consult with your healthcare provider before proceeding.

6. Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha-lipoic Acid provides support for healthy glucose and carbohydrate metabolism and the maintenance of healthy eyes. So it helps turn glucose into energy. Alpha-lipoic acid can lower blood sugar levels, and its ability to kill free radicals may help reduce pain and numbness in people who have had any nerve damage caused by diabetes.

It is used as a treatment for stroke victims to improve impaired brain function and for improving blood flow and enhancing immune function, and restoring levels of glutathione. ALA is a strong anti-inflammatory agent. It promotes the function of other antioxidants while assisting in heavy metal chelation.

Quality of Supplements for Migraines is Important

The quality of supplements you choose is important. I have noticed that my doctor only uses Thorne brand which – you guessed it – I get at www.iherb.com (use my code HAZ215 for $5.00 off your first purchase).

Other high quality reputable practitioner brands here in Australia are: Mediherb, Bioceuticals, Phytomedicine, and Flordis brands. Ask your healthcare practitioner for the best quality brand they can recommend for you.



Other Alternative Supplements for Migraines

Although evidence is inconclusive from mixed findings in most studies using these supplements – I want to provide a complete list and let you and your doctor decide what might be best for your individual situation.

Fish Oil – High doses of 1000mg purified is Best. I use Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega (from www.iherb.com). I take 2 in the morning and 3 with dinner. I know it sounds a lot – well it did to me at first – but I am sleeping much better and feeling much clearer since investing in this supplement. Good fish oil is not cheap.

Vitamin B – Complex or Forte Injections every 2 – 14 days. Injected into your bum muscle and it hurts much less when you warm the vial up in your hands first. It’s also good to massage the needle injection points between treatments so they do not form small lumps.

Vitamin B3 – Niacin (as niacinamide) 500 mgs taken at the earliest warning symptom is recommended. I hot flushed too much from this one, so it was not for me.

Quercetin – 500 mgs taken regularly every day. This is a bioflavonoid that can help with vascular tone – this means that the veins in your neck and head can become stronger and less likely to become overly dilated with blood.

Probiotics - containing a variety of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Bifido bacterium bifidum, and importantly for migraineurs Streptococcus thermophilus. The one my doctor has me on is from Spectrum Ceuticals (50-Plus). Probiotics can be one of the more expensive supplements for migraines, but it is worth experimenting with.

You only take this until you are replenished with bowel flora, its not a forever one to take! You can also check with your doctor for a good reliable safe and sufficient brand.

Vitamin C – to build up your immune system and it is often recommended for headache prevention. My body loves when I take Vitamin C. I always feel better when I take it. I highly recommend a good powder or this new Lypo-Spheric delivery system which has a much higher absorption rate.

Vitamin E – improves circulation, thus, is helpful for some people who suffer from migraines.

Pycnogenol – a powerful antioxidant.

Turmeric – for pain relief.

Taurine – to support the nervous system.

Inositol – in the family of B vitamins and is often used to ease depression.

Tyrosine – to reduce the effects of acute stress.

Effectiveness of Supplements for Migraines

Migraine for Dummies says that “getting rid of a full-fledged migraine with nothing but herbal remedies ranks right up there with cleaning up an oil spill with tissues”.

So be aware that you may require a stronger method of treatment for your migraine episodes.

As you can see there are so many different supplements for migraines and headaches available.

I am sure I have not listed them all yet and new discoveries are being made all the time.

Some of these above have not passed through the most stringent clinical tests but the first six have been through randomized controlled clinical trials proving their efficacy.

If you do not get results with supplements alone, here are some alternative therapies to try.

Alternative Therapies You Might Like to Try

To help reduce muscle tension and stress these therapies are proving to be helpful with migraines for some people:

Acupuncture

Acupressure

Biofeedback

Detox

Deep breathing

Home remedies for children

Liver cleansing diet

Massage

Natural Remedies

Yoga

Best Results from Combined Treatments

Studies now show that by combining traditional and alternative treatments, you will have a better chance of reducing your migraine attacks. This combination works for me, give them a try.

Soothe Away
Ice and Heat
Treatment

iHerb.com Vitamins and Supplements

Yoga for exercise and relaxation

Professional
Counseling
and Support

No matter what you read or what you decide to try for your migraine treatment, always consult your doctor first.

Migraine – as you know - is a serious medical condition and the supplements and medications used must not be taken lightly.

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For more information on effective supplements for migraines subscribe to our free periodic e-zine called Surviving Chronic Migraine. This area of finding natural solutions is a passion of mine, so I will write about it often.




Supplements for Migraines References:

1. Stafford, D and Shoquist, J. MD (2003) Migraines for Dummies. Wiley Publishing Inc: NY.
2. American Headache Society – US Library of Medicine – PubMed.gov. Sun-Edelstein C, and Mauskop A. (2011) Alternative headache treatments: nutraceuticals, behavioral and physical treatments. Headache. Vol. Mar;51(3):469-83. Review. PubMed.
3. American Headache Society – US Library of Medicine – PubMed.gov. Sun-Edelstein C, and Mauskop A. (2009) Foods and supplements in the management of migraine headaches. Clin J Pain. Vol. Jun;25(5):446-52. Review. PubMed.


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