kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

Migraines are among the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Roughly $78 billion is spent annually in medical costs for treatment.

Migraine attacks, which according to the Migraine Research Foundation, affect 12 percent of people in the United States and are about three times more common in women than in men. They can be triggered by changes in the weather, fatigue, stress, anxiety, insufficient sleep, dehydration, and hormonal changes. Attacks can also be set off by skipping meals, performing strenuous exercise, travel to a higher altitude, and, for some, alcohol or the food additive monosodium glutamate (MSG).

Migraine is more than a headache. It’s a real neurological disease that affects millions. Migraine is a complex disorder that can cause debilitating headaches accompanied by a variety of symptoms.

  • Head pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light and/or sound
  • Visual effects and/or aur

Holistic treatments, also referred to as complementary and integrative treatments, can be beneficial for many people. However, there is currently not enough evidence to recommend them as a patient’s primary form of treatment, says Dr. Deena Kuruvilla, Assistant Professor of Neurology at the Yale School of Medicine.

Proven alternative migraine treatments include meditation and mindfulness training, acupuncture, essential oils and nutraceuticals, or vitamins and minerals thought to have medicinal benefits, says Dr. Kuruvilla. Research shows that up to 80% of patients living with migraine and headache disorders tried alternative treatments.

“The best way to explore integrative options safely is to first discuss them with your health care provider,” she says. “Talk about the risks and the benefits with your doctor. And then, if it’s a good fit, you can move forward with the treatment.” Although it varies from person to person, many people living with migraine have found relief from holistic treatments, Dr. Kuruvilla says.

“If you are somebody who experienced side effects from a lot of mainstream medications, or if you haven’t received complete relief from mainstream treatments, an integrative treatment approach may be helpful for you,” she adds.

If you get frequent headaches or migraine attacks, regular use of these home remedies may improve your quality of life.

Eat Regularly and Avoid Dehydration to Help Prevent Headache and Migraine

Skipped meals or too many hours between them is a common migraine attack trigger. Low blood glucose caused by not eating can also cause a headache. Since even mild to moderate dehydration can be a trigger for a migraine attack or headache, get in the habit of having water available to drink at all times, particularly during exercise.

For some people, particular foods or beverages can be triggers. According to Vince Martin, MD, a neurologist and the director of the University of Cincinnati headache and facial pain center, speaking at the 2021 Migraine World Summit, the three most common food triggers are MSG in liquid form (such as in a soup), too much or too little caffeine, and alcohol. A food diary can be a good way to identify food triggers.

Feverfew May Prevent and Treat Migraine Pain

The herb known as feverfew became popular as a migraine remedy in the 1980s, when a landmark British study showed that more than 70 percent of participants had less migraine pain after taking feverfew daily. Since then, more studies have demonstrated feverfew’s benefit in preventing and treating migraine pain. Feverfew leaves contain many different chemicals, including one called parthenolide, which is what scientist believe decreases migraines.

Research published in Clinical Drug Investigation showed improvement in migraine pain among people who took feverfew daily in combination with white willow, an herbal remedy that contains properties similar to aspirin. Therefore you will often find supplements that combine feverfew and white willow.

“Feverfew works best as a preventive medicine. It’s not as effective once you have [a migraine attack],” says Amy Rothenberg, ND, a naturopathic physician in private practice in Enfield, Connecticut. “And white willow, often called nature’s aspirin, can be an effective tool for treating a migraine headache.”

Kriegler cautions that if people are “allergic to aspirin or taking other NSAIDs, they shouldn’t use these [supplements].”

Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Reduce Headache Severity

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that your body needs but can’t produce on its own. They must be consumed in the diet. Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids include chia seeds, Brussel sprouts, walnuts, hemp and flax seeds, algal and perilla oils.

A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials published in November 2018 in Nutritional Neuroscience found that consumption of omega-3 fatty acids reduced the duration of migraine attacks by about three and a half hours, although it had no effect on the frequency or severity of attacks.

A study published in the August 2016 Journal of Pain also looked at the role of another essential fatty acid, omega-6, in chronic migraine and found that reducing omega-6 fats along with increasing omega-3 consumption led to more headache improvement than reducing omega-6s alone.

Omega-6 fatty acids are found in many processed foods that contain corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, sunflower seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds as well as in flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, and pistachios. The typical American diet contains 10 times more omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids, according to the Harvard Health Letter, and many experts believe that consuming about the same amount of both is healthier for humans.

Magnesium May Reduce Migraine Frequency and Intensity

Magnesium can be taken as a natural supplement to prevent migraine attacks, says Nada Hindiyeh, MD, a headache specialist and researcher at Stanford Health Care in Palo Alto, California.

In a meta-analysis published in 2016 in Pain Physician, oral magnesium was shown to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks. There was also evidence that intravenous magnesium could help reduce the severity of an acute migraine attack within 15 to 45 minutes.

Many healthy foods provide magnesium, including bananas, flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, dark chocolate, and leafy greens such as spinach and Swiss chard.

Vitamin B12 Levels May Be Associated With Migraine Risk

Evidence links low levels of vitamin B12 with migraine. A study published in October 2019 in the journal Headache compared vitamin B12 levels in 70 people with migraine and 70 healthy people of similar demographics. Investigators found that serum levels of B12 were significantly lower in people with migraine compared with participants without migraine. People with the lowest levels of the vitamin were five times more likely to have migraine than those with the highest levels of B12.

Researchers have also tested the effects of daily vitamin supplements containing folic acid (vitamin B9), vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 on migraine. In a study published in 2016 in the Journal of Headache and Pain, it was found 2 mg folic acid in combination with 25 mg of vitamin B6 and 400 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B12 worked the best.

Cold packs, do-it-yourself scalp massage, and acupuncture can improve tightness and tension in the neck and shoulders which often trigger headache events.

Feverfew

Feverfew is a yellow flowering plant that is related to the daisy. It is native to southeastern Europe and it has now spread throughout Europe, North and South America, and Australia.

Feverfew has been used in traditional medicine for centuries including by the Ancient Greeks for conditions ranging from toothaches to menstrual cramps. The name “feverfew” however, comes from its primary and historical use as a way to treat inflammations or fevers. Most feverfew products today are made from the dried feverfew leaves.

Research found that parthenolide and other ingredients in feverfew get in the way of serotonin and prostaglandin. These are natural substances that dilate the blood vessels. They may be responsible for triggering headaches and migraines.

Feverfew is likely to work for migraines if taken daily for at least several months. It’s important to note that it prevents migraines. It doesn’t treat them. This means that it won’t help if you take it when you have a migraine.

Feverfew has been known to reduce stress and alleviate anxiety in some users. This is very important for those who suffer from chronic stress, as the presence of stress hormones in the body can be dangerous over long periods.

Some of the volatile compounds in feverfew have anti-inflammatory abilities, which effectively reduces inflammation throughout the body. For those who suffer from chronic joint pain, arthritis, gout, and other inflammatory conditions, herbal treatment with feverfew is a painless and effective solution.

Traditionally, feverfew has been used to break and eliminate fevers. If you are suffering from a fever, whether it is linked to another more serious illness or not, it can help to promote sweating and eliminate toxins from the body, speeding the healing process and reducing inflammation.

One of the popular uses of feverfew is in the reduction of discomfort during menstruation. Feverfew can effectively lower inflammation, reduce cramps, bloating, hormonal swings, pain, and excessive bleeding.

For people trying to gain weight or recovering from an injury/surgery, increasing one’s appetite can be very important. Feverfew has been linked to certain hormonal activity that induces hunger.

Feverfew reduces  inflammation and irritation in the respiratory tract, which can often exacerbate conditions like asthma or coughing. By allowing the respiratory tracts to relax, it can help soothe these symptoms and improve overall respiratory health.

One of the more recent health benefits of feverfew is its role in skin health. Research shows improvement of the skin when applied topically to treat dermatitis.

Feverfew can inhibit the production of certain prostaglandins in the body that are responsible for increasing blood pressure. By reducing symptoms of hypertension, feverfew can protect overall heart health and lower the chances of experiencing atherosclerosis.

Feverfew is closely related to the ragweed family, which is a common allergen for many people. If you are allergic to plants in the ragweed family, feverfew should not be used. Common side effects include mouth ulcers in certain people, and if this occurs, discontinue use and see a medical professional. This herb should also not be used while pregnant, despite its analgesic and soothing qualities, because it might induce uterine contractions.

As always, consult a medical professional or a trained herbalist before adding a new element to your herbal health regimen, as there is always the chance of negative pharmaceutical interactions with such powerful herbs.

How to Buy

You can buy feverfew as a supplement in most health food store. It is often combined with white willow.

It is an easy plant to grow but it behaves like a weed, so you need to tend to it. Trim and lay the leaves flat out on a screen to dry.

How to Store

Store in an airtight container or tie feverfew in a bundle and allow to dry hanging upside down in a dark, ventilated and dry area. You can also dry feverfew in an oven at 140 degrees F. If you are using feverfew fresh, it’s best to cut it as you need it.

How to Cook

You can use both the flower and and leaves to make a feverfew tincture. Simply pinch off the flower heads and leaves, place them in a jar, and cover them with 80-proof alcohol, like vodka, gin or rum.

Let the jar sit for 3-6 weeks, out of sunlight.

Strain the mixture and transfer to a tincture jar.

Take one adult dose, two droppers full, up to 4 times a day, to treat migraines and headaches.

Do not take while pregnant. (Might induce contractions.)

 

Feverfew Headache Tea

Garden Therapy

2 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp dried chamomile
  • 1 tsp dried lavender
  • 1 tsp dried feverfew
  • 8 oz boiling water
  • maple syrup or stevia to taste

Instructions

  1. Add herbs to a cup.
  2. Pour boiling water over the herbs, then cover with a saucer.
  3. Steep for 15 minutes, then strain out the herbs.
  4. Add sweetener to taste. The tea may be slightly bitter.

Resources

https://migraineresearchfoundation.org/about-migraine/migraine-facts/
https://www.everydayhealth.com/headache-migraine/treatment/home-remedies-for-headaches-and-migraines/
https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/holistic-treatments-for-migraine/
https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/top-10-migraine-triggers/
https://medicine.yale.edu/neurology/people/deena_kuruvilla.profile
https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/understanding-migraine-catpreventive-treatmentsmythbusters-migraine-remedies/
https://www.uchealth.com/physician/vincent-martin/
https://migraineworldsummit.com/2021-speaker-topic-schedule/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1418227/pdf/bmjcred00463-0017.pdf
https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-933/feverfew
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17163262/
http://www.nhcmed.com/dr-profiles/amy-rothenberg-nd-dhanp.html
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28665211/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4522350/
https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/no-need-to-avoid-healthy-omega-6-fats
https://stanfordhealthcare.org/doctors/h/nada-hindiyeh.html
https://www.painphysicianjournal.com/current/pdf?article=MjQ4Nw==&journal=93
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31471907/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4919187/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11276299/
https://www.earthtokathy.com/feverfew-tea-recipe/
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/%28SICI%291099-1573%28199711%2911:7%3C508::AID-PTR153%3E3.0.CO;2-H
https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/532287
http://www.herbmedpharmacol.com/Article/JHP_20160324134703
http://www.phcogrev.com/article/2011/5/9/1041030973-784779105
https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=19&contentid=Feverfew
https://www.curesdecoded.com/Products/Feverfew/111#:~:text=Feverfew%20Health%20Uses%20and%20Health%20Benefits%201%20Migraine,cell%20growth%20in%20leukemia%20patients.%20More%20items...%20
http://www.bmj.com/content/291/6495/569.short
https://www.organicfacts.net/home-remedies/home-remedies-for-anxiety.html
http://journals.lww.com/practicalpsychiatry/Abstract/2001/03000/Herbs_and_Nutrients_in_the_Treatment_of.2.aspx
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1074552101000497
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874199001154
https://europepmc.org/abstract/med/6810384
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3210009/
http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/1995/np/np9951200271
http://content.onlinejacc.org/article.aspx?articleid=1127866
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0049017205000120
https://modernhippiehw.com/tincture-tuesday-week-5-feverfew-tincture/

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