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).
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).
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.