By Karen Appold
More and more, people are turning to alternative therapies to treat their health conditions. Studies show that for some migraine sufferers, taking herbs have brought relief. Following is an overview of some of the most popular herbs used to prevent migraines today.
Feverfew, an anti-inflammatory herb, works a lot like ibuprofen but doesn’t have its risks and side effects. Feverfew inhibits chemicals that cause blood vessels in your head to spasm. This herb also stops platelets from releasing serotonin, which is believed to trigger events that can cause a migraine.
Studies show that feverfew reduces the severity, length and frequency of migraines as well as the symptoms associated with them such as vomiting and nausea. The recommended dosage is 50 to 100 milligrams (mg) of feverfew extract daily.
Do not take feverfew if you take anticoagulants, due to the risk of bleeding. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take feverfew.
Studies suggest that butterbur may reduce the inflammation of blood vessels and other tissues associated with migraines. The herb may also regulate neurotransmitters in the brain, reducing the frequency of migraines.
Some research suggests that for some individuals, butterbur can cut the frequency of migraine headaches in half. Take 50 to 75 mg of a standardized extract two times per day to prevent migraines.
Do not take butterbur if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have liver or kidney disease.
Willow bark contains salicin, a chemical similar to the active ingredients in aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). One study evaluated a salicin topical cream for the prevention and/or treatment of migraines. Results were promising, but more studies are needed to draw a firm conclusion. Take 60 to 240 mg of standardized willow bark per day to prevent migraines.
Willow bark seems to be milder than aspirin on your stomach. Don’t take this herb if you are allergic to aspirin. Willow bark can irritate conditions such as gastrointestinal ulcers and kidney disease.
Be sure to check with your doctor to discuss drug interactions and side effects before you start to take any new herbs or supplements.