If you ever experienced migraine, you know that it's million times more than just a headache. The intense throbbing, pulsing, and excruciating pain that accompany a migraine can be debilitating. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, nearly all people who suffer from migraines can’t work or function normally during an episode.
Most of us who experience migraines rely on medication. However, now with the rise of herbal and folk medicine, many are turning to natural therapies and herbal remedies. Long before modern medicine, folks worldwide developed herbal remedies for headaches and other common migraine symptoms. Besides, all-natural herbal headache relief remedies can work well alongside headache medications to reduce pain quickly and prevent it from coming back. However, before using even most popular and common herbs and herbal supplements you should carefully look at their effectiveness, restrictions, and side effects.
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
Feverfew, as its name suggests has long been used to treat fever. However, it's also a popular herbal remedy used by people who experience migraine. Feverfew is used as a preventative (or prophylactic) treatment for migraine. Some people have reported that after taking feverfew their migraine attacks have gradually become less frequent and in a few cases have stopped altogether, but evidence regarding benefit is conflicting, and scientists agree that it needs more research to claim it to be effective.
Does feverfew have any side effects?
You should not take feverfew during pregnancy because, as feverfew is similar to aspirin and other NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, it can cause contractions.
White Willow Bark (Salix alba)
Willow bark has been shown to relieve headaches. White willow appears to bring pain relief more slowly than aspirin, but its effects may last longer. Some studies show that willow bark is as effective as aspirin for reducing pain, and requires a much lower dose. However, more research is still needed.
Does white willow bark have any side effects?
Although there is some evidence that willow bark is less likely to cause gastrointestinal side effects associated with other pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, willow bark is not recommended for people who are prone to stomach upset. This herb should also be avoided by those who are allergic to aspirin.
Butterbur (Petasites hybridus)
The effectiveness of butterbur in migraine prevention has been evaluated in several research studies, and it's a popular over-the-counter nutraceutical used for the prevention of migraine. This herb has some safety because while it is recommended to reduce the frequency of migraines and is known to lessen the severity of a migraine; it does raise concerns due to pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) found in its raw state which can cause liver toxicity and are believed to be carcinogenic. Remember that ONLY butterbur products labeled or certified as PA-free should be used.
Does butterbur have side effects?
Women who are pregnant, plan to become pregnant or nursing should not take butterbur. Despite butterbur’s potential efficacy, doubts are increasing about the long-term safety of this supplement given the risk of liver damage and the lack of an actively regulated preparation.
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
If a headache or migraine is a result of excessive stress, ginkgo may be useful. Additionally, if the pain is related to reduced blood flow or constricted blood vessels, ginkgo's ability to dilate blood vessels may improve symptoms. Few small clinical trials have indicated that gingko biloba could be helpful as an herbal remedy for the management of migraines. Further and more extensive studies are needed to confirm its uses as a treatment in this regard fully.
Does ginkgo biloba have side effects?
For most adults, the risk associated with taking ginkgo is relatively low, but there are cases in which ginkgo could cause serious harm. If you are allergic to plants that contain alkylphenols or taking certain medications, you should not take ginkgo.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger has been used in Chinese herbal medicines for over 2,000 years for a variety of ailments, including headaches, nausea, arthritis, common cold and flu. Research has shown that ginger can really help in curbing migraines some claim that ginger is as effective as taking commonly prescribed migraine abortives.
Does ginger have side effects?
There are not many side effects linked to ginger when it is taken in small doses or used as a spice. Women who are pregnant should not take ginger, along with people who have bleeding disorders and people with gallstones.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
You can use peppermint in tea form as or apply peppermint essential oil to the forehead and temples. Peppermint tea helps ease nausea and upset stomach, and some people with migraine find it to be soothing for their migraine symptoms.
Does peppermint have side effects?
Peppermint tea is generally safe for most people and isn’t associated with any side effects.
It is important to consult a healthcare professional before using any herbal treatment. Some medicinal herbs can cause side effects, and they can also interact with conventional medication.