4 Top Migraine Treatment Supplements

Although it is only half way through January, I have had my fair share of migraines which I attribute to weather changes, poor sleep along with ineffective generic medications which I am forced to take rather than my usual brand. As the price of medicines rise, I along with anyone having to deal with insurances are sure to suffer many major migraines!

As we faced financial challenges or poor migraine control we look for alternative treatments.

Here is a list of supplement treatments I have found useful in my patients.

Vitamin B2- riboflavin

This is a vitamin that is produced naturally in many vegetables like asparagus, poultry, as well as in dairy products. Over the last couple of decades, this vitamin has been used in some patients to try to decrease the number of attacks as well as duration and intensity of migraine. According to a study in the early part of this century, taking 400mg a day of vitamin B2 could decrease the number of migraines and intensity. However, the study which has not been repeated to my knowledge was flawed since it lacked an objective placebo arm. Nevertheless, I and other physicians have found this treatment to be beneficial to some patients. In my experience, this treatment works about 50% of the time within a week and decreases number of migraines significantly as to reduce amount of abortive treatment such as use of triptans. (Note: not to be used in people with cataracts, plus contraceptive use alongside can render treatment ineffective).

Butterbur-petasites hybridus

This is a leaf found throughout Europe, and North America in wet marshy lands. The name came about for its ancient use of wrapping butter with it during warm seasons. In the States is sold as a purified root extract (petasistes). Butterbur is an effective treatment for migraine prevention at doses 50-75mg twice a day. (Note: only those that are labeled certified and PA-free should be used to avoid liver damage).

Peppermint

This is by far is my favorite supplement. You can purchase the edible oil, tea bags or fresh mint to brew. Peppermint is good for the gi upset caused by migraine. In my experience, it works best when applied as oil to forehead during the migraine. Even a small whiff can alleviate nausea. All you need is but a drop or two because the oil is highly concentrated. Don’t make same mistake I did first time I tried. I thought one drop would not be sufficient to make tea in huge mug. I probably added about 4-5 drops instead. As I went to take a sip, the scent and taste was so powerful I had to spit it up and dumped the tea down the drain; it made my entire kitchen smell minty for days.

Progesterone pills (contraceptives)

Since migraines are more common in women and many of us have what are medically known as catheminal migraines because they occur around the time of menses when there is a surge of estrogen. In women with a clear hormonal trigger, the use of progesterone tablets helps prevent migraines. Another more drastic solution in severe cases, where women are no longer wanting children, hysterectomy without removal of ovaries has been performed with good results. However, these option should always be last resort. (Caution: birth control pills can increase blood pressure, clot formation, and strokes especially in smokers and those with migraines with aura).

Reminder to consult your doctor

Before you try any supplement, please consult with your physician about the possible risks. Most of these though useful in management of migraines will not eliminate migraines completely but merely decrease number and intensity as well as give you an alternative choice to use along with your more conventional treatments.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (15)
  • Dana
    1 year ago

    I use B2 with riboflavin 400mgs, that seems to be consistent and peppermint is great. I’ll dab a drop on my temples and I keep a bottle in my bag, sometimes just taking the cap off and getting a little scent helps if your out and otherwise helpless. My doc also has me on high potency Magnesium 400mg twice a day. She said I could increase to 3x if tolerated. Well 800mg gives me high frequency diarrhea (TMI, sorry), while it hasn’t decreased the frequency, it has, ever so slightly decreased the intensity and I will take what I can get!

  • maria.deleon moderator author
    1 year ago

    Dana so glad that b2 working for you and I agree with peppermint same with me.. glad magnesium working for you ..just make sure you have someone monitoring levels so as to avoid toxicity ..if tak Eto’o much magnesium can experinci g low blood pressure, flushing, urine retantion weakness and irregular heart rate. Take care ..Maria de León / author/ moderator/ patient advocate

  • Bean
    1 year ago

    I’m hoping you can offer a little help on the hormone recommendation.

    Do progesterone-only pills increase the risk of stroke or blood clots? I always thought it was the estrogen that was the problem.

    Donyou know if pills recommended over an IUD (Mirena) if a woman is still experiencing hormonal fluctuations that trigger migraine attacks? My headache doc is of no help. She tells me to ask my GYN. GYN knows nothing about controlling chronic migraine.

  • maria.deleon moderator author
    1 year ago

    thank you for writing such a good question Bean. i do recommend that you speak with a GYN regarding what is the best treatment for you, in general neurologists do not deal with these medications and defer to the other specialists. however, you are correct that is the estrogen that triggers migraines especially those that cause menstrual migraines- so the treatment is to decrease levels of estrogen. so typically best treatment is increased progesterone and some hormone replacements have higher levels of these. but is not as simple because decreasing levels of estrogen prematurely to levels seen in menopause can increase risk of cardiovascular disease but taking birth cp can increase bp, clots and strokes- hence need specialist to adjust and look at each person’s history and clotting risk factors. iud will not help with control of migraines unfortunately. best of luck- maria de leon / author/moderator/ patient advocate

  • snsunshinehs1
    1 year ago

    I have been on vitamins B-2, B-6 and B-12 since 2011. They have not helped in any way with decreasing migraines, at least mine. I don’t have regular migraines, mine are Hemiplegic Migraines.

  • maria.deleon moderator author
    1 year ago

    Hi snsunshinehs1, thanks for sharing ..first these supplements don’t work for everyone just like triptans an dother treatments don’t help everyone – however, these vitamin supplements have only been studied and recommended for people with typical migraines. Hemiplegic migraines unfortunately fall into another category because of their mechanism of action and familiar heredity, these are usually treated with calcium channel blockers( I.e. blood pressure meds), sodium voltage medication ( i.e. Seizure meds) and even sometimes treated as mini strokes …so need to talk to doctor about different preventive drugs available. Good luck …maria de León / moderator/ author/ patient advocate

  • DixieGal
    1 year ago

    Why are people with cataracts advised not to take Vitamin B-2?

  • maria.deleon moderator author
    1 year ago

    1k8gfa6,
    That is a great question. First, a bit of riboflavin is actually protective of eye disease and cataracts but the doses in our bodies requieres are very small about 2mcg but for treatment of migraines we are using essentially toxic doses ( large quantities) at these high doses especially when exposed to uv light like the retina and cornea and other eye membranes it can cause cell damage and create cataracts an dother retinal problems.we don’t want to accelerate the process or make things worse if already have underlying eye problems. So this is a good example of a drug/ compound that is very much dose dependent where a little is good but a lot can be dangerous ..Maria de León / author/ moderator/ patient advocate

  • Ronan
    1 year ago

    I use peppermint in an infuser. That smell helps to alleviate some of the pain.

  • maria.deleon moderator author
    1 year ago

    Ronan,
    Smelling peppermint has been used by many including myself to decrease pain and nausea…glad diffuser works for you. Maria de León / moderator / author / patient advocate

  • Lori
    1 year ago

    Hi – can you please clarify – B6 or B2? The heading says B2 but the paragraph wording says B6. Thanks!

  • maria.deleon moderator author
    1 year ago

    Hello Lori, th am you for your comment ..paragraph is concerning B2 ( riboflavin)..I aopologoze if there was a typo..however could you please let me know which line says this so I can correct..I am not seeing. Thank you have great day. Author/ moderator/ patient advocate Maria De León

  • Lori
    1 year ago

    It’s been corrected now = thanks!

  • Joanna Bodner moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi there @Lori, That was an error and the paragraph should have read B2 just like the heading! Thanks for mentioning this! -Joanna (Migraine.com Team)

  • Lori
    1 year ago

    Thanks!

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