Feverfew and ginger for migraines

A variety of herbal therapies and nutritional supplements have been carefully tested for treating and preventing migraines. A new study will be published later this year in the journal Headache describing the results of a well-designed study testing the benefit of a combination of feverfew and ginger for treating migraines before they become severe. The herbal product used was Lipigesic M, which is administered as a liquid placed under the tongue.

This study used a double-blind, placebo-controlled design. This means study participants were treated with the actual feverfew plus ginger compound or a look-alike sugar pill, called a placebo. The study was double-blinded because neither the patients nor the doctors in the study could tell which treatment the patients were getting until the study was over. This is the best way to study migraine treatments to make sure the treatment is actually effective. Because of the strong power of suggestion for at least temporarily reducing pain, most studies show that about one in three patients will benefit from the placebo therapy.

In this study, 60 patients treated multiple migraine episodes with either the feverfew plus ginger pill or the placebo. Three in four patients experienced a mild phase at the beginning of their migraines and were told to treat early, while the migraine was still mild. After two hours, migraine pain had been relieved in two of three patients treating with the feverfew plus ginger product compared with about one in three taking the placebo. In addition, patients were twice as likely to be completely pain free after taking the feverfew plus ginger combination.
This study suggests three things:

  1. Treating early while your headache is still mild can be an effective way to prevent a migraine episode from becoming severe and difficult to treat
  2. Herbal therapies can effectively treat migraine episodes
  3. Early migraine treatment with herbal therapies, like feverfew plus ginger, might reduce the number of migraines that become more severe and need to be treated with medications like triptans

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