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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.

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Free Stuff

I have a couple headache-related things that I no longer need. If you’re interested, send me an e-mail with your address and I’ll mail one or both to you.

Five Quarters of the Orange, a novel by Joanne Harris — The mother in the story is a migraineur whose attacks are precipitated by the smell of oranges. I can’t say much else without giving too much away, but it’s a good book (the link in the title takes you to a review). I’ve read it several times and want to find a new home for it.

2.8 oz dried organic feverfew — A tea made from dried feverfew has been used throughout history to abort headaches. It could also be put in capsules and taken daily as a preventive. I have instructions for making the tea, but don’t know what a “dose” would be. Nor can I vouch for its efficacy — I can’t stand the taste, so I only tried it once. For what it’s worth, the store I bought it from, Butterfly Herbs, always has high quality herbs and teas.