Migraine Headache Symptoms, Relief and Prevention

The pain of a migraine headache can be agonizing and often severe. In some cases migraines can case disabling effects including an intense sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, and vomiting. The excruciating pain of a migraine may debilitate you for several hours or even several days. Some people are able to feel a migraine coming on and experience symptoms such as tingling in their arms and legs, blind spots, and flashes of light. Over 28 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches, three times as many women as men.

Nutritional supplements that may be helpful for migraine sufferers

Research has shown that migraine sufferers, in comparison to healthy people, tend to have lower levels of magnesium in their blood and in their brain. Although not all studies agree, it has been suggested that, for some people, taking oral supplements of magnesium sulfate may help decrease the rate at which headaches reoccur. A preliminary study, involving a group of mostly pre-menopausal women, found that the frequency of migraine headaches was reduced by 80 in those who were treated with approximately 200mg of magnesium each day.

It has also been suggested that high doses of riboflavin, or vitamin B2, may also thwart the onset of migraines by correcting microscopic deficiencies within the brain cells. In one study, a group of 49 migraine sufferers were given 400mg of vitamin B2 each day. Results from this study showed that both the severity of the migraines as well as their frequency had been reduced by over two-thirds.

Herbal supplements that may be helpful for migraine sufferers

Some evidence suggests that herbal supplements such as butterbur and feverfew may help to reduce the magnitude of a migraine and may also work as migraine preventatives. Feverfew is the herb most commonly used for the continuous prevention of migraines.

In fact, three different clinical trials have shown that a prolonged use of feverfew brings about a decline in the frequency, duration, and severity or migraine headaches.

Research has indicated that treating migraines with 250mcg of parthenolide, provided in standardized feverfew leaf extract, is most effective. Active results may not be noticeable for a minimum of four to six weeks.

Supporting Literature

Gallai V, Sarchielli P, Coata G, et al. Serum and salivary magnesium levels in migraine. Results in a group of juvenile patients. Headache 1992;32:132-5.
Barbiroli B, Lodi R, Cortelli P, et al. Low brain free magnesium in migraine and cluster headache: an interictal study by in vivo phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy on 86 patients. Cephalalgia 1997;17:254.
Schoenen J, Lenaerts M, Bastings E. High-dose riboflavin as a prophylactic treatment of migraine: results of an open pilot study. Cephalalgia 1994;14:328-9.
Volger BK, Pittler MH, Ernst E. Feverfew as a preventive treatment for migraine: a systematic review. Cephalagia 1998;18:703-8.
Murphy JJ, Hepinstall S, Mitchell JRA. Randomized double-blind placebo controlled trial of feverfew in migraine prevention. Lancet 1988;ii:189-92.
Johnson ES, Kadam NP, Hylands DM, Hylands PJ. Efficacy of feverfew as prophylactic treatment of migraine. Br Med J 1985;291:569-73.
Palevitch D, Earon G, Carasso R. Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) as a prophylactic treatment for migraine: A double-blind placebo-controlled study. Phytother Res 1997;11:508-11.