Herbfacts
A woman holding her head in pain representing a migraine

Managing migraine

Migraines are extremely painful and can be debilitating. But are there any natural ways to help relieve this painful condition? 

Medical herbalist Gabriella Clarke looks at some remedies that might help to bring relief.

Anyone who experiences migraine headaches will be only to familiar with the throbbing, pounding, pulsating pain and nausea and visual disturbances which often accompany them. Causes include intolerances to certain foods, alcohol, caffeine, stress, fluctuations in hormones and numerous other factors. Women have a much higher tendency to suffer than men. There is no cure for migraines, but they can be usually managed with painkillers.

For people seeking to prevent and manage migraines naturally here are some key supplements that may help.

MAGNESIUM

This essential mineral has an important role to play in healthy nerve and muscle function as well being one of the key minerals in helping to maintain healthy bones and a healthy cardiovascular system. Magnesium is not stored in the body so we rely on a sufficient daily dietary intake of magnesium rich foods such as dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grains, brown rice and fish.

Therapeutically, magnesium is used as a muscle relaxant and painkiller. Migraine sufferers are typically deficient in magnesium; studies have indicated that a daily dose of 300mg of magnesium may help to prevent the incidence and severity of migraine attacks.

Magnesium supplements are best taken after an evening meal as they help us to relax and enjoy better quality sleep.

FEVERFEW

Traditionally used to treat headaches, several studies have found that feverfew may help prevent and treat migraines. In one study of people with migraines, those who took feverfew capsules every day for four months saw a substantial drop in the number of attacks, as well as far fewer symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, compared to those who received placebo.

Some studies have mixed results, however, and feverfew is best taken under the supervision of a medical herbalist. Feverfew can potentially interact with a number of medications – as with any licensed Traditional Herbal Remedy (THR), always consult the Patient Information Leaflet before taking.

CHAMOMILE

Stress can be a significant factor in migraine attacks and a cup of chamomile tea twice a day can be really beneficial in reducing the effect daily stress plays on our health. Its gentle calming influence may play an important role in reducing the incidence of migraine attacks.

LAVENDER OIL

This lovely essential oil can be applied to the temples and behind the ears during migraine attacks. Lavender Oil’s  soothing effects can help reduce both nausea and pain.

ACUPUNCTURE

This ancient technique has been shown to be extremely effective in pain management. Long-term regular treatment has helped many sufferers to manage their symptoms effectively.

ALWAYS SEEK ADVICE FROM A HEALTHCARE PRACTITIONER

Migraine is a long-term chronic condition for many sufferers. While there are myriad remedies out there, proper management focuses on getting to the root cause of the problem. I would urge sufferers to seek help from healthcare practitioners of herbal medicine, nutritional medicine and other disciplines to help manage and prevent symptoms.