The verdict is still out but studies are churning up promising results for homeopathic migraine relief and this alternative school of thought has many migraineurs eager to learn more.
When pain cannot be managed with over-the-counter treatment, prescription migraine medications are the go-to solution. These medications don’t work for everyone, may be accompanied by unwelcome side effects and can cost a pretty penny. Long-term effects are also of concern to those who have depended upon them for years to salvage quality of life.
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More recently, the medical community has begun focusing on alternative forms of treatment for migraine relief, including homeopathic care. Homeopathic treatment is based on the theory that the body is capable of healing its self. By bolstering the body’s inherent recovery capabilities through natural supplementation, pain and illness may be effectively treated without the harmful side effects associated with prescription medications. Here, we’ll review some of the most popular forms of homeopathic migraine relief and their affects on pain.
If ever there were an oldie but goodie for migraine relief, it’s feverfew. Feverfew is an herbal plant that can be consumed in a variety of ways to help keep migraines away. It’s considered one of the oldest homeopathic migraine relief treatments and first became the subject of studies in Great Britain during the 1980’s. During early research, 189 of 270 people reported reduced migraine pain and frequency after chewing a couple feverfew leaves per day. In several other studies, feverfew reduced frequency and severity of nausea and vomiting; however, frequency reduction was not experienced in every experiment. The herb contains a naturally occurring chemical called parthenolide, which is believed to combat the bodily function that induces inflammation.
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Butterbur is actually a toxic herb that cannot be ingested in any form besides a processed supplement. It too contains a natural chemical that is believed to reduce spasms and decrease inflammation, which in turn alleviates migraine pain. During a small 2004 study, the effects of butterbur as a migraine preventative were tested. 245 migraine sufferers between the age of 18 and 65 were given butterbur for four months. Migraine frequency was reduced by 48% for those receiving butterbur at 75mg and 36% for those receiving butterbur at 50mg. According to more recent research, butterbur may also help to stop a migraine from progressing once symptoms have presented.
A number of studies have discovered that those prone to cluster headaches or migraines are actually deficient in magnesium. By restoring the body’s magnesium level via supplementation, fewer and less severe migraine episodes may be achieved. An early experiment conducted in 1996 treated 81 patients (age 18-65) with 600mg of oral magnesium for 12 weeks. Within the 9-12 week period, migraine frequency was reduced by 41.6%. Only one study testing magnesium for migraine treatment did not result in a reduction of frequency, but several issues with the testing discount the findings.
The name doesn’t sound like a natural remedy but in fact, your body creates 5-HTP (which is a neurotransmitter) while in the process of producing serotonin. Because many migraine medications utilize ingredients that impact the production of serotonin, experts have tested whether supplementing a greater dose of 5-HTP could improve migraine conditions. Results indicated that in high doses (between 400mg and 600mg) it may positively affect migraines but in lesser doses, it may not work at all. One study tested 124 migraine sufferers over a six-month period. A significant reduction in the intensity and length of migraines was reported.
Mitochondrials are organelles responsible for producing cell energy. One theory suggests migraines are caused by mitochondrial dysfunction, meaning the organelles are unhealthy and dying off, debilitating their effectiveness within the body. Supplements like CoQ10, Vitamin B12 and lipoic acid are believed to help restore healthy mitochondrial levels, thus improving migraine conditions.
During a three month trial to test this theory, 55 people with migraines reported a greater than 50% decrease in frequency and duration of attacks by taking a daily 400mg dose of vitamin B12. A similar study utilized CoQ10; participants also reported a 50% reduction in migraine frequency, however, duration was not mentioned.
Fish Oil (Omega-3 Fatty Acids)
Early studies suggested the consumption of fish oils were helpful in reducing migraine pain. Fish oil contains a high level of omega-3 fatty acids, which help to reduce inflammation. However, a larger and lengthier study concluded little to no benefit. 167 migraine sufferers were monitored for 16-weeks to determine the affects of fish oil on their migraine episodes. There was no significant reduction in frequency or duration.
Acupuncture is based on an ancient Chinese belief that a natural energy force flows throughout the body. When we experience pain or illness, this energy force can be accessed using tiny needles inserted into specific acupoints located throughout the body to relieve ailments. In one study, 140 migraine sufferers were selected at random to receive either authentic acupuncture or sham acupuncture. Those within the authentic acupuncture group reported a greater number of migraine-free days. In a larger examination, 3,962 patients were tested using acupuncture. The majority reported effective reduction in migraine pain.
In short, there does appear to be some promise with homeopathic migraine treatment but many of the supplements must be taken for a length of time before any relief is experienced. It’s important for migraine sufferers to remember that just because homeopathic treatments are natural doesn’t mean they’re safe. Always consult with a doctor prior to trying a new form of treatment and be sure to discuss any medications you’re currently taking, as supplements may negatively interact with certain drugs and can cause side effects.
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