Natural Migraine Relief

By Howard LeWine, M.D.
Content provided by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing at Harvard Health Publications. He is recognized as an outstanding clinician and teacher and is a recipient of the Internal Medicine Teacher of the Year award at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine continues to practice Internal Medicine; most recently he became a hospitalist after practicing primary care for over 20 years.

Question:

I was diagnosed with migraines, and the doctor prescribed a medicine that makes me tired all the time. Are there any natural vitamins or supplements that I can take instead?

Answer:

A combination of feverfew and ginger may be an effective treatment for some people with migraine.


A small study in the July issue of the journal Headache compared a specially prepared combination of these herbs to a placebo ("sugar pill"). The researchers wanted to know if feverfew-ginger is a better pain reliever than a placebo.

People in the study were placed in either the feverfew-ginger group or the placebo group. They kept track of how well the pills worked in a diary.

Of the people that took feverfew-ginger, 32% were pain free at 2 hours. Of the placebo group, only 16% were pain free at 2 hours.

It is likely that the ingredient that made the difference was the feverfew. Other studies have shown that feverfew taken every day can decrease the frequency and severity of migraine attacks in some people.

Feverfew can cause stomach and intestinal upset. Also, it may decrease blood clotting.

Before starting any herbal therapy, always check with your doctor or pharmacist to be sure that it is safe for you.

Last Annual Review Date: 2011-08-09T00:00:00-06:00 Copyright: Copyright Harvard Health Publications

Reference: Migraine & Headaches section on Better Medicine


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Did You Know?

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Although most people experience headaches only from time to time, an unfortunate but significant minority — about 1 in 20 people — experience them daily or almost every day.