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Natural Solutions for Migraine Headaches, Studies Prove They Work! : Exclusive Renegade Health Article

Wednesday Aug 22, 2012 | BY |
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Concerned about drug side effects in treating migraines? Studies show natural options may work just as well.

According to the Migraine Research Foundation, about 36 million Americans suffer from migraines, with more than 27 million of those being women. Most experience an attack once or twice a month, but about 14 million have them daily.

Unfortunately, according to new guidelines from the American Headache Society, less than one-third of sufferers use any sort of treatment for these extremely painful and debilitating headaches.

Could that be because of fear of drug side effects? According to a CBS News article, a lot of patients have been burned by drugs that don’t work, yet cause a myriad of miserable side effects. Fortunately, there’s good news—recent studies have found that some natural treatments actually help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.

What are Migraines?
Migraines are disabling headaches that most likely stem from problems with the nerves and blood vessels in the head. They usually last from 4–72 hours, and involve intense, throbbing pain on one, or sometimes both sides of the head. Most people feel the pain in the temples or behind one eye and ear, though any part of the head can be affected. Sufferers usually also experience nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.

Researchers don’t know what causes migraines, but they think it has something to do with abnormal changes in levels of substances naturally produced in the brain. When these levels change, they can trigger inflammation of the blood vessels, which can press on nearby nerves, causing pain.

One thing that seems to be common in all migraine headaches is that something “triggers” them. Common triggers include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Bright lights, loud noises, or strong odors
  • Skipped meals
  • Hormone changes during the menstrual cycle
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Weather changes
  • Alcohol and caffeine
  • Foods with nitrates, such as hot dogs and lunch meats
  • Foods that contain MSG (monosodium glutamate
  • Foods that contain tyramine, such as aged cheeses, soy products, and smoked fish
  • Aspartame (NutraSweet and Equal)

Triggers vary from person to person. Keeping a “headache diary” can help you determine which events may be triggering your migraines.

Drugs Aren’t Always the Best Answer
Those suffering from frequent migraines are likely to experience such a disruption in their daily lives that they may talk to their doctors about their condition. For some, medications like seizure drugs (divalproex, valproate, and topiramate) may help reduce the frequency of the headaches, but these medications may also create difficult side effects like drowsiness, weakness, liver problems, nausea, dizziness, constipation, trouble sleeping, and the like.

Beta-blockers, which are typically used to treat high blood pressure, may also be used to treat migraines, but again, you may have side effects to deal with. Fortunately, new evidence shows that some natural solutions actually do work at helping to reduce migraines, giving patients more options.

Enter Butterbur
According to a recent release by the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society, based on a review of studies from the past decade, of all the alternative therapies evaluated, the herb butterbur (Petasites hybridus) was the only one “established as effective” in reducing the frequency and severity of migraines.

Butterbur has been used traditionally as an herbal remedy for pain, fever, and spasms. It comes from the root of the butterbur shrub, and grows to about three feet, commonly found in wet, marshy ground. Today it’s commonly used to treat coughs, asthma, hay fever, and stomach ulcers. In its natural state, however, it contains chemicals called “pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs),” which can damage the liver and cause other serious harm, so it’s important to always seek out PA-free extract products.

Scientists aren’t sure how butterbur helps reduce migraines, but human studies have shown that it does. Researchers theorize that “petasin,” the main component in butterbur, may inhibit inflammation and reduce spasms in smooth muscle tissues, relaxing swollen blood vessels and membranes. Human studies have also shown butterbur to act as an antihistamine, making it an exciting natural alternative for treating allergies.

With this recent recommendation by two prominent agencies, it certainly seems worth a try. The typical recommended dosage is from 50-100 mg of butterbur extract twice daily with meals. In one study, researchers found that taking 75 mg daily over 4 months cut the incidence of migraines nearly in half. TV’s Dr. Oz recommends 75 mg twice daily, upping to 100 mg twice daily if needed.

Other Possible Natural Solutions
Though butterbur extract was the only natural solution deemed as an established treatment for migraines, three others were mentioned as “probably effective.” These included the herb feverfew, as well as magnesium and riboflavin. The evidence for omega-3 fatty acids and other herbal or nutrient supplements was inadequate or conflicting. In other words, there may be other natural solutions, but so far we don’t have sufficient evidence behind any of them.

  • Feverfew: a member of the sunflower family, feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) has been used for centuries as a remedy for headaches, arthritis and fevers. Similar to butterbur, feverfew has a phythochemical called “parthenolide” that helps relieve spasms in smooth muscle tissue. Studies have also found it contains aspirin-like chemicals. Human studies have shown it to be effective in reducing the number of migraine attacks per month. In one study, participants took feverfew, magnesium, and vitamin B2 and experienced a 50 percent decrease in migraines. Those used in studies were standardized to contain at least 0.2% parthenolide. Take 100-300 mg, up to 4 times daily, standardized to contain 0.2-0.4% parthenolides.
  • Magnesium: According to the University of Maryland, people with migraines often have lower levels of magnesium than those who don’t have migraines. Studies suggest that magnesium may reduce frequency by over 40 percent, compared to 15 percent in those who took a placebo. Other studies suggest that magnesium may be particularly helpful in women whose migraines are triggered by menstrual periods. Try 200-600 mg per day.
  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): Some studies show that this vitamin may also be helpful in reducing the frequency of migraines. Some studies show no effect, however, so more research needs to be done. Check with your doctor, as riboflavin can interfere with some medications like antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, and medications for gout. Try 400 mg per day for migraines.

As noted, some studies combined fevervew with magnesium and riboflavin and had good results. More is not always better, however, so check with your doctor, then consider trying one at a time, and if that doesn’t work, try some combinations. Some health stores may have migraine combination supplements already prepared. As always, make sure you trust the source.

Don’t forget to try lifestyle changes as well. These include avoiding your triggers, creating a standard waking and sleeping routine, eating healthy foods (and not skipping meals), engaging in regular exercise, and limiting caffeine and alcohol intake. In addition, try removing processed foods, diet soda, and anything with MSG from your diet for two weeks to see if you notice any benefits. Bottom line—keep trying! A solution is possible.

Have you tried butterbur, feverfew, or other natural solutions for migraines? What was your experience?

* * *

Sources
Ryan Jaslow, “New migraine guidelines tout medications that may prevent symptoms,” CBS News, April 24, 2012, http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57419858-10391704/new-migraine-guidelines-tout-medications-that-may-prevent-symptoms/.

“Migraine Fact Sheet,” Women’s Health, May 1, 2008, http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/migraine.cfm.

“Butterbur Extract as an Antihistamine,” Phytotherapy Research, 2005;19:530-7, http://www.bastyrcenter.org/content/view/872/.

“Feverfew,” University of Maryland, 2011, http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/feverfew-000243.htm.

“Migraine Headache,” University of Maryland, 2011, http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/migraine-headache-000072.htm.

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog RenegadeHealth.com — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.

29 COMMENTS ON THIS POST

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  1. sheri says:

    Yes! We have tried butterbur, my teenage son was getting migraines about 2-4 times a month, and it helped allot! About 6 mo ago we found the reason for his migraines by going to a chiropractor for the first time ever. He works in a holistic way and spent about an hour working on his inflamed neck, and back etc..We paid 60 $ After the second visit, he found the cause. He was sleeping on his stomach with head turned. After getting the right kind of pillow, and promising never to sleep on the stomach, his headaches so much better now. 98 percent gone. We just go every few months for a 30 dollar adjustment to keep it going well. A really good chirpractor that does some muscle testing too was a huge help for us!

  2. julia says:

    Good idea sheri..I suffer from migraine and always use drugs..I am afraid I will damage my liver.

  3. Eugeniya says:

    Sheri,
    I use therapeutic grade essential oil of Cinnamon single or in a blend – works like a charm within minutes. I also put a hot water bottle on his neck. There are other oils people swear by, but for my husband this is the best solution.

  4. David says:

    I don’t get the pain but the flashing aurora. For this I take a 1000mmg vit B complex, close my eyes for 10 mins and it goes and I am more or less back to normal. Just very occasionally I have slight nausea as an after effect (of the migraine)

  5. Vee says:

    Also using Young Livng Peppermint oil or an oil called Young Living M-Grain oil works quite well. Try it.
    Blessings to you,

    Veronica (Mickey) Frierdich
    Young Living Products #309940
    Psalm 127
    http://www.secretsofmothernature.com/mickey
    http://www.mickey-yl.com
    http://www.ronandmickey.mybeyondorgaic.com

  6. Anne knopf says:

    Im shocked you did not include coffee enemas as explained in Gerson therapy. Max Gerson sole reason for exploring natural health was his migraine headaches. They completely eliminate migraines. Listen to Charlotte Gersons utube videos discussing migraines go to her website Gerson.com and get the organiccoffee from SA Wilsons … They also have protocol there… Remember dis- ease is to Get the toxins OUT BEFORE U PUT STUFF IN!! Most of the time it us. Also on utube there is a video of a couple going for a coffee enema in california showing u whole process. There are lots of utube vodeos explaining how it works. Good luck its a simple remedy that works really well!

  7. Tara Burner says:

    i haven’t tried any of those…
    I usually get migraines when the weather is wicked..as in hurricane heading my way….and ironically lavender essential oil gives me instant migraine as well (whereas it usually calms other people but opposite with me)

  8. Deb says:

    I get one or two migraines a month, and have since my mid-20s, with the exception of my pregnancies and breastfeeding. Mine are classic migraines, with the auras and vomiting and caused by hormonal changes, and I have taken a variety of medications with little relief. One thing that did help a little was natural progesterone cream, made from wild yam, but it only seemed to lessen them or put them off for a little while. I have never tried butterbur but definitely will. Would love to hear from anyone who has hormonal migraines and whether the butterbur works for them…

  9. Nabilla says:

    I’ve tried feverfew before but it did nothing for my migraine. These days, through trial and error I’ve figured out the best way to stop the pain is through a cup of freshly brewed strong black coffee with no sugar. The caffeine content in it is enough to alleviate the pain until it is completely gone in about 1-2 hours.

  10. Eugeniya says:

    It is true that enemas are great and quickest way to cleanse your body. However, not everyone wants to do them.

    Many times emotions trigger the whole dis-balance. I use therapeutic grade essential oils to balance energy, emotions, hormones, cleanse liver, kidneys, lymph, and, when my family members are in crisis, they agree on an enema too. I also have a great success using Vita Flex combined with the Raindrop technique.

    Not sure which lavender essential you’re using. It is really important to use therapeutic grade essential oils. Other grade oils, especially lavender, are not pure and in fact are toxic.

    I used other Young Living essential oils for migraine, but for my husband only Cinnamon really worked. The principle behind it is that it is a hot oil and you get a little bit of burning sensation, which in turn gets your body to respond quicker to heal the pain. You can always add a base vegetable oil or even put it afterwards, but my husband does not mind a little stinging sensation. Please note, never to use hot oils anywhere on your face and especially near the eyes, unless they are thoroughly diluted (i.e. 1:4 for cinnamon) with the base oil.

    If you like to find out more info, I post it on my web site:

    sites.google.com/site/younglivingeu

  11. Jacki says:

    As mentioned in the article, inflammation causes the changes that bring about the migraines. The inflammation is there because the body is no longer able to remove the toxins from the mitochondria (core/furnace) of the cells and they get blocked and cannot do their job of producing energy to allow that part of the body to stay healthy and do its intended work. I used to get silent migrines (those that do not include the pain)which primarily presented with the zigzagging aura and vision problems. I use a natural product(MaxGXL or Cellgevity) that is a glutathione accelerator with great success. Glutathione is what we were given to clean out that mitochondria! Without glutatione the cell will die. Just as it would do without oxygen, nutrition or water. Many of my co-workers, friends and family use these two products for migraines and other health negating inflammatory situations. I am never withoutMaxGXL! You can learn more about the scientific studies behind this at http://www.max.com/10600 http://www.maxgxl.com
    If you want to purchase email me at maxyourday@gmail.com

  12. Eugeniya says:

    When the weather changes quickly, your PH changes as well. So a little of raw apple cider vinegar might just solve the problem in Tara’s case.

  13. Eugeniya says:

    Sheri,
    I used to go to chiropractors in the past too. However, since I discovered Valor essential oil and Raindrop technique, there is no more need to visit anyone. I have a ton of info on this, if you like, on my site:
    sites.google.com/site/younglivingeu
    Please check the side bar for Valor and Raindrop. And if you need help, anytime…

  14. Donna says:

    My migraines went away when I stopped eating gluten. One tiny gluten exposure brings them right back!

  15. Linda says:

    A cup or two of coffee almost almost always kills migraines for me. Makes sense, since some of the migraine drugs contain caffeine. I drink organic, with raw cream, no sugar.

    Feverfew hasn’t worked for me. Taking magnesium helps alot. I try to remember to take it every day.

  16. Joe Jeles says:

    dr.Gerson cured his migrain with vigan diet.

  17. Kathryn says:

    I noticed that ‘hormonal changes’ is not on your list of triggers. Like Deb, I get migraines with or before my period almost every month. I, too, have found relief in the severity and length of the migraines from using progesterone cream. I have not found it to be a ‘cure’ either. I also use Chase Berry (aka Vitex), Maca, Dong Quai and Black Cohosh to help balance my hormones which helps with menstrual migraines and to help with PMS symptoms (mood swings). Migraines are a complete nightmare. People who have never suffered with them have no idea how beyond awful they are. I’m going to get Butterbur and hope it will help. Blessings to all fellow migraine sufferers.

  18. dr. sandra says:

    i am a dr. and would advise you to use Tesla Purple Energy Plates India, which comes in different sizes, are hand made and 100 percent natural. Get one of those and place the plate on the painful area as and when the Migraine triggers. You will find a great relief within 20 minutes. Majotity of my patients have responded positively and even i am intrigued.

  19. sanjay kumar says:

    yes there is great demand for tesla plates india here in california n most of them are migraine sufferers.I am a reseller here in USA and anyone wanting them may contact me

  20. Hev says:

    I am now cured of migraines after 30 years of having them. I had up to three a week, sometimes lasting several hours. I now have a completely migraine free life and feel like a different person. The cause? In my case it was Gluten intolerance. Once I cut out all gluten the headaches vanished. It took a lot of work to get the diet correct and it is not easy to follow but now I am fit and well. The other improvements in my health have been huge. I’m no longer tired and lethargic all the time, my hair and nails are growing properly. My night blindness vanished! My IBS vanished and I’m back to a healthy weight!

  21. Sian says:

    I’m in the UK, get about 4 migraines a month which can last 3 to 5 days if left untreated. They cause debilitating pain on one side of my head, sensitivity to light, sound and smell and, if left untreated, vomiting. I’ve had them since I was 15 and I’m 39 now. Up until this year I used a protocol of 600-900mg soluble aspirin and, if that didn’t work, migard tablets (frovotriptan) or, if my stomach has shut down (which is does within hours of getting a migraine) a zolmitriptan spray or voltorol suppository. Well, last year brought knee surgery for a running injury which resulted in fat pad inflammation which required high doses of NSAIDS which left me with internal bleeding and IBS which meant I could no longer take aspirin or NSAIDS. Cue the discovery of raw foods and a gentler, more natural approach to health restoration. I now take a product called “Relevia” at the first sign of a migraine. It suppports the body’s natural response to pain and inflammation and contains pancreatin, papain, bromelain, trypsin, chymotrypsin, rutin, white willow bark and tumeric root. I also have a white willow tincture but this takes a while to work so is best taken if I experience pre-migraine warning signs and I also have feverfew tablets which also take a while to work. I’d say that my migraines have decreased in frequency since moving to a predominately raw food diet. I get about 2 a month now though sadly their intensity hasn’t deminished. I’m a work in progress. Haven’t tried butterbur but will try and source some and give it a go. Interesting article, many thanks.

  22. Colette says:

    Poor migraines sufferers ! I know so well this problem…
    I have had migraines during nearly 30 ans and very, very violent and painful ones which were a real handicap for work. Tried so many things (conventional or not), had all sorts of exam to know the cause… never known.

    And one day I became raw vegan : MIRACLE : end of the migraines. But in the meantime, after so many searches I found that they came from the digestive system : my body had a hard time for metabolizing fats. And I could read in one of the books of Dr Janine Fontaine that 90% of the migraines come from the digestive system which has never been said to me during my endless questioning to the medical world at the time of my pains except the usual advices about coffee, chocolate, some wines et so on…).

    Now, very rarely I can come to have a slight headache (mistakes in my eating : excess of fats with nuts and seeds for instance) but I had never again experienced ONE migraine.

    I also agree with one of the comment : I make COFFEE ENEMAS as soon as I fell the need for it.

    Hope this can help.

  23. Tina says:

    I thought I’d tried everything and couldn’t find a solution. Butterbur gave me serotonin syndrome although my migraines improved. Feverfew gave me incredibly painful eye pain, worse than the migraine. Ma and B vitamins haven’t seemed to help although I am now trying Mag Chelated spray which will hopefully work. I’ve never heard of the coffee enemas for migraines but that’s something I’d be willing to try. I suffer 3-4/wk and only have found Zomig to help once I have them. Nothing except strong pharmaceuticals help temporarily with preventing.

  24. Eugeniya says:

    I have tried Butterbur for my son, when he had asthma. In fact, I tried many herbs, diets, chiropractic and Jin Shin Do, homeopathy, etc. For 3 years – no apparent results. And finally, I was lucky to learn about Young Living. Ever since, my son is cured – I am so happy! Your emotions and subconscious mind are in charge of your health. Many times, it is old, berried inside emotions that rack havoc, and you don’t even suspect it. I used to get even twisted stomach when being upset. My husband invariably gets migraines – I even know when they’ll occur. So I am always ready with my oils. And no-more twisted stomach for me either. In fact, I manage our health, including my dog’s, completely with the oils.

  25. Kym says:

    I’ve had migraines since I was a kid – inherited as far as I can tell – so I’ve gone into this in great depth. Believe me!

    Just sticking to what you’ve mentioned here: butterbur worked well but, yes, I also experienced serotonin syndrome. Not a bad feeling but couldn’t sleep. Feverfew also worked somewhat but made me dizzy. Magnesium is good for general wellbeing but I didn’t notice particular effects for migraines. B vitamins are also useful but I find they give my very intense dreams.

    As Sheri mentioned above, adjusting my sleeping position from my back to my side helped a lot. I assume this is about blood flow and muscle pressure. Recently, I’ve being trying astaxanthin. This has helped my light tolerance greatly and I’ve had far fewer headaches. It also increases blood flow to the brain, which helps many people. I would recommend trying this.

    Good luck to all sufferers!

  26. Beverly says:

    There can be many things that trigger them, food, stress,my daughter has done great with adult stem cell nutrition from, https://jdimlm.com/index.php?page=1c&theme=1&id=miracles, good luck and God Bless

  27. Jane says:

    I had “migraines” for years from my mid teens ( lasting 3 days sometimes 3 times a month) with severe fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea but no visual problems though sensitive to light and sound. My mother, aunty and grandmother and uncle all had “the migraine” but they attributed it to chocolate and red wine so I avoided these. Remember those white chocolate eggs I got for Easter urggh! 
     Dr Oliver Sacks calls this the family hysteria factor I think? The passing down of symptoms through generations.
    My uncle cured his with Ayurvedic medicine ( said it was connected with the liver) and eliminating garlic.  
    Then I went to this wonderful chiro in 1990 who put me on a candida diet – the only grain was rice, no sugar,cheese, fruit, yeast, coffee or tea ( so didn’t drink any milk) plus no sugar. 
    I also found basil, rosemary, peppermint and lavender oils helped.
    Cured and felt the best I had ever felt. Didn’t know the word gluten back then but in hindsight wondering if I was gluten intolerant all along?  Plus no cheese or milk. I’ve always hated the sight and smell of milk and never have been able to drink it by itself so maybe it was the casein too.

    I can now eat real chocolate! I started with really dark (before I went raw and found out about cacao) for the first time in my life and felt amazing!  
    Still don’t eat any wheat because am now raw vegan but my sister was officially diagnosed as gluten intolerant a few years back. She spent a week in hospital when she was 11 and they thought she had some kind of intestinal cancer because of all her undiagnosed celiac symptoms.

    Then in 95 I was diagnosed with a brain tumour but had completely different symptoms, no stomach problems, not out of the blue intense pain and vomiting I had with the previous headaches but just continual dizziness floaty feelings. I was also diagnosed with gallstones which also in hindsight mimicked the migraine symptoms, head and neck pain, fatigue and intestinal problems. Have read that headaches are one of the hardest things to diagnose properly when there are so many factors, diet being really important and doctors aren’t trained in this area.
    Whenever I do get headaches now that I know are from the surgery (occipital neuralgia) the chiro is a lifesaver plus taking magnesium tablets.

  28. Uzma says:

    It is interesting to see all the triggers of migraines. I suffer from migraines at least 2-3 times a month which last around 3 or even four days. I usually use tiger balm to massage my temples which does help, but I will try some of these herbs too.

  29. chris says:

    Not all people can cure their headaches with medicine. Some medicine do not work for some people.

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