When a person develops a migraine headache, the primary and immediate concern is relief from the incredible pain. All too often individuals in this situation grab a bottle and down one, two or three of the common over-the-counter headache medications to fix the issue. The problem is, that does not fix the issue. People who take 2-3 or more of these medications per week are at strong risk to become caught in a desperate rebound headache cycle, where they have near daily headaches of one degree or another.
There has got to be a better way to fight this modern day scourge on mankind. A person in such a situation has lost control of his or her life. They are slave to an evil taskmaster that will not allow them to do many of the things that they would like and not to enjoy so much of what life has to offer.
Through testing, three of the most effective herbal remedies for migraines are feverfew, butterbur and pine bark. Let’s take a look at all three of these promising alternative treatments for migraine.
Feverfew comes from the same tribe of plants (asteraceae) as the daisy. Since the 1st century A.D., it has been used for the treatment of headache, stomachaches and fever. Feverfew has anti-inflammatory, stimulant, relaxant, decongestant and anti-coagulant properties.
Feverfew is mainly used for the treatment and prevention of frequent and serious migraine headaches. From the Natural Health (2007-03-01) we are told that “in a recent, well-designed clinical trial, 170 German patients took a placebo pill or an extract of feverfew for 16 weeks. Those taking Feverfew had significantly fewer migraines.”
Feverfew should be taken daily as a preventative, rather than a treatment for migraines. Herbal experts recommend tapering off the dose if you are going to quit taking the herb.
Traditionally butterbur has been used to treat spasms in the respiratory and digestive tract. In addition, Butterbur is said to inhibit the production of histamine, which helps to keep air passages open. This may help to relieve allergic congestion and seasonal allergies.
Butterbur is very popular in Europe and becoming increasingly popular in America as a sound way to minimize neurological discomfort. The exact cause of this is still unclear but neurologically severe headaches may be caused by a number of biological factors. Some researchers believe that they stem from an imbalance in the central nervous system that encourages the release of blood-dilating peptides. This could result in inflammation of the brain’s thin outer layer, the cerebral cortex. As pressure builds, blood flow becomes more restricted, potentially enhancing migraine headache symptoms. (Carle, R., Plant-based antiphlogistics and spasmolytics’ (translated from German). Z Phytother. 1988; 9: 67-76).
Other physicians think that many commonly consumed food items trigger migraines or that they could be hereditary. A 12 week clinical study showed that the active compounds in butterbur can prevent peptidoleukotriene biosynthesis, which is an inflammatory process that has been linked to the onset of mgraines. (Bickel D, Roder T, Bestmann, J. Identification and characterization of inhibitors of peptide-leukotriene-synthesis from Petasites hybridus. Plant Medica. 1994; 60:31-322).
Also of note is the writing ‘Petasites Hybridus Root (Butterbur) is an effective prevention for migraine” by Lipton, Einhaupl and Gobel (Neurology, 2004; 2240-4).
One thing to note about butterbur is that the plant contains liver toxins called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). So it is important to choose a formula that is PA free.
Dr. Sirichai Chayasirisobhon of Kaiser Permanente Medical Center set out to address the question of whether free radical damage can contribute to migraine headaches. (“Use of a Pine Bark Extract and Antioxidant Vitamin Combination Product as Therapy for Medication”, Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, Vol 46, No. 5, May 2006) He chose a dozen patients who had a long-term history of migraines with little to no success with various drugs (antidepressants, beta-blockers and anticonvulsants).
At the start of the study, subjects completed a questionnaire which was called the migraine disability assessment (MIDAS). The MIDAS was designed to assess the impact of migraine flare-ups on activities at home, work and while interacting with friends and family. This is a great way to start an unbiased test, so that the results before the test are well documented and there can be no dispute.
For the three month study period, each subject was given daily supplements that contained 600 mg of vitamin C, 300 IU of vitamin E and 1,200 mg of a pine bark extract. Subjects were allowed to continue using the medications they were currently taking.
Upon the end of the trial period the subjects completed a seconds MIDAS questionnaire. Their responses indicated a significant improvement.
The overall MIDAS scored improvement was more than 50%.
The average number of migraine days was reduced from 44 days in the three months prior to the trial, to 26 days during the trial.
The average migraine severity score (which some will argue is the most important factor) was reduced from 7.5 (out of 10) to 5.5
One subject dropped out of the trial. Of the remaining 11, two reported no change in frequency, duration or severity. Among the other nine, the overall MIDAS score improvement was almost 68%.
These three herbal remedies for migraines have all shown very good results when tested as alternative treatments for migraine headaches. If you suffer from headaches of these three appear to be well worth a try. It is possible that people in this country need to take a new approach toward migraine headache relief. Herbal remedies may be the answer.
Visit the Herbal Remedies for Migraine Headaches website for more information on herbal remedies for migraine headaches and great product offers. There are ways to help defeat the battle with migraines or headaches in general that many of us are facing.