Natural Migraine Treatments

Do you have regularly headaches and migraines, but don’t want to take the conventional medications such as paracetamol, aspirin and anti-inflammatories?

There are various non-medication-based methods of pain control for your headaches/migraines. But that is the topic for another article!

Water as medicine

Before using natural medications it may be worth making sure you’re not dehydrated, since dehydration can cause nasty headaches. If you haven’t tried this yet, drink a few glasses of water, wait 15 – 30 minutes, and see if the pain doesn’t decrease.

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is freely available and can be effective for headache and migraine treatment, but it doesn’t work for everyone, so bear this in mind if you try it. Chewing one to two fresh leaves a day may be all you need, but it is an acquired taste! Alternatively, 250 mg per day of a whole-leaf extract may be more palatable. Feverfew can increase bleeding time, so people with certain blood disorders or taking blood-thinning medications such as aspirin or warfarin should only use it under qualified supervision. Feverfew should be avoided for 2 – 3 weeks before and after surgery, and may interact with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) is another herb that has proved successful for headache and migraine pain relief, but it is not as freely available as feverfew, and should be used with caution by anyone with kidney or liver disease. Chewing one or two fresh leaves of Ginkgo biloba daily is also an option. Depending on the manifestation of your particular headache, you may benefit from herbs that offer sedative and/or antispasmodic effects, such as lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), valerian (Valeriana officinalis), passion flower (Passiflora incarnate) and skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), as well as the more well-known herbs like chamomile, rosemary, lavender and peppermint. These all make palatable teas.

Ginger in all forms – tea, tincture, tablet, fresh/ raw – is a wonderful remedy that some people find helpful for all sorts of pain relief. It’s also useful for symptoms like nausea, which often accompany headaches and migraines. Lemon (a few slices in hot water) may be helpful, especially if your headaches are related to acidity.

The amino acid 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), 400 – 600 mg per day, is worth a try for migraine prevention. Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), 400 mg per day, may also help. The mineral magnesium can be remarkably effective in oral doses ranging from 400 to 800 mg per day, but high doses can have side-effects. Magnesium can also react with certain medications like calcium channel blockers (high blood pressure medication), diuretics, osteoporosis drugs, certain muscle relaxants and some antibiotics. However, an intravenous infusion of magnesium sulphate can stop an acute migraine episode in its tracks within minutes, especially if administered at the onset of the pain. Co-enzyme Q10, 150 – 300 mg per day, is also worth trying for prophylaxis, particularly for migraine headaches caused by mitochondrial dysfunction.

Homeopathic remedies can be used for self-help, but if they do not significantly improve the condition consider professional assessment so that a remedy specifically matched to your symptoms can be identified. However, some remedies that are often used by self-medicators in 6X or 6C potencies include argentum nitrum, belladonna, bryonia, cimicifuga, ignatia, iris versicolor, melolitus, nux vomica, sanguinaria, silicea and spigelia.

It’s always advisable to consult a qualified, and registered, health professional rather than experiment indiscriminately if self-help remedies don’t bring relief, as you need to ensure that other disorders are excluded.


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Natural Migraine Treatments

Dr Sandi Nye
About The Author
- Dr, ND. She is a naturopath with a special interest in aromatic and integrative medicine, and is dual-registered with the Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa (AHPCSA). She serves as editorial board member and/or consultant for various national and international publications, and is in private practice in Pinelands, Cape Town.