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Examining Supplements for Chronic Daily Headache & Migraine Treatment

Dietary supplements feverfew, butterbur, magnesium, riboflavin, coenzyme Q10 and melatonin pop up frequently in the discussion of treatment for chronic daily headache and migraine. Do they work? According to headache specialist Stewart J. Tepper in the medical journal Consultant, “Although the data are relatively few, and sometimes weak, there is some evidence that so-called natural remedies may be effective at preventing or aborting migraine attacks.”

Even if the evidence is weak, many people with CDH and migraine are willing to try supplements because there’s a chance that it might work for them. That’s my approach too, unless there’s indication that the supplement might be harmful or there hasn’t been enough research to show the long-term effects of it.

The journal Headache published a detailed review of supplements in 2006.

“Natural” or Alternative Medications for Migraine Prevention, an article in the journal Headache in 2006, introduced the topic:

For preemptive prophylactic therapy, CAM [complementary and alternative medicine] is not only a viable option, but should be a major consideration. Patients often balk at the use of daily drugs due to the perception such treatment may frequently cause side-effects. So, why not a “natural” agent, mineral, vitamin, or bodily substance? The modern equivalent to the “wild, wild, west” (ie, the Internet) informs us that petasites…. [T]hese CAM therapies are not as strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States as are prescription therapies and devices; they are classified as dietary supplements and not drugs.

The article includes efficacy and safety details on the following supplements:

If the links take you to a sign-in page, you can get a login at BugMeNot.

2 Responses to Examining Supplements for Chronic Daily Headache & Migraine Treatment

  1. Emma says:

    I have found feverfew to be very effective. By taking it along with a healthy diet (vegan-not for everyone) complete with regular scheduled meals, I have been able to reduce my once daily headaches to once every 2 or three weeks.

    I am not quite sure which of these things has had the most effect, but I know that skipping a meal will trigger a headache immediately. I have been diligent with the veganism and feverfew for the same amount of time, so with this success I am not really willing to give anything up right now.

    But I am a little frustrated that this was never suggested to me after 10 years of suffering from daily headaches.

    Thanks,
    Emma

  2. Mary says:

    I’ve just started taking butterbur (twice daily for about 2 weeks so far) and am already seeing some improvement. (2 migraine-free days last week, when even 1 painfree day is normally a very good week for me, and I was able to treat all but one of my migraines effectively with just Excedrin, rather than needing sumatriptan or finding that nothing worked, as sometimes is the case with me.)

    The research I read was quite convincing (sorry, I can’t find it now!), but stated that most patients need to take the supplement for 1-2 months to see best results.

    I should say that I’m NOT normally someone susceptible to the placebo effect, so the fact that my migraines have already eased off somewhat is making me quite optimistic!

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