If you are one of the estimated 38 million Americans in the United States who suffers from migraines, then you’re well aware of the potentially disabling symptoms that come along with them—including throbbing pain, nausea and sensitivity to light to name a few.
A number of natural remedies have been studied for their abilities to both prevent the onset and reduce the intensity of migraine symptoms. Here are three with science-backed results.
Ginger, a plant native to southeastern Asia, has been cultivated around the world and is used to treat a variety of ailments including motion sickness, upset stomach, and aches and pains due to inflammation.
A number of studies have shown the effectiveness of ginger against migraine headache symptoms that don’t come with the common side effects of some prescription medications.
A study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that migraine sufferers who took capsules containing 250 milligrams of ginger powder when they felt a headache coming on experienced similar relief to the subjects who were given the migraine-relieving drug sumatriptan.
You’ll find ginger in a number of formulations, including capsules, extracts and powders that can be blended into smoothies and juices.
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is an herb native to Asia Minor now available throughout most of the world. The plant has been used for number of medicinal purposes including treating fever, inflammation, insect bites and even asthma.
Today, the herbal remedy is most commonly used for preventing migraine headaches and their associated symptoms.
Numerous studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of feverfew against migraines, and while results are mixed, there is evidence that the herb may reduce the number of migraine attacks per month.
The dosages of feverfew vary from study to study. However, a review article published in the journal Pharmacognosy Review suggested that adults using the herb for migraines or their prevention take 100–300 milligrams (with a parthenolide content between 0.2–0.4%) up to 4 times per day.
Dietary surveys taken in the U.S. suggest that Americans are getting less magnesium from their food than the experts recommend for optimal health.
A magnesium deficiency can lead to nausea, vomiting, weakness, fatigue and factors known to cause headaches—namely neurotransmitter release and vasoconstriction.
According to the American Headache Society, a daily oral supplement of magnesium oxide (between 400-500 milligrams) is both a safe and effective way to treat and prevent migraine onset.
Researchers believe that magnesium may prevent a phenomenon known as cortical spreading depression, which is what causes the visual and sensory changes associated with migraine aura.
Karen Morse, MPH, is a freelance health and nutrition writer. In her free time, she enjoys Pilates, exploring nearby hiking trails and cooking up fresh, seasonal eats in the kitchen. Her work has appeared in Clean Eating, Weight Watchers, YouBeauty.com and others.