There are so many products on the market that claim to treat migraine symptoms. Here’s what to know if you’re considering supplements.
Over the years, I’ve taken nearly every drug, remedy, and therapy available to stop or slow the pain of my migraine episodes. Recently, I sat in my doctor’s office as the nurse reviewed my list of medications. I almost had to laugh at how long the list had gotten.
I’ve also tried many dietary supplements. Herbs, vitamins, minerals, and other dietary substances appealed to me because they seemed more “natural.” Since I could buy many of them over the counter at my nearest pharmacy, it was often easy to try them too.
However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve dietary supplements before they go on the market in the same way it approves drugs. Supplements can be sold without FDA approval. So, before taking a supplement, you’ll want to know what you’re taking. And it’s always best to speak with your doctor before trying a new supplement.
Here are a few vitamins and minerals I came across often in my journey to find migraine relief.
The results of some scientific studies have suggested that butterbur can be effective at reducing migraine frequency. This is why the American Academy of Neurology began to recommend it in 2012. But in 2016, the organization took back its recommendation due to concerns that butterbur was toxic to the liver.
Butterbur, which comes from the leaves of the Petasites hybridus plant, contains a specific alkaloid that appears to be damaging to the liver. By producing supplements without this alkaloid, manufacturers thought they could create a version of butterbur that would be safe for the liver.
However, research suggests that some people still experienced liver injury after using butterbur supplements that were labeled alkaloid-free but still contained small amounts of alkaloids.
For this reason, butterbur is not available in many European markets, and many doctors in the United States do not recommend using it.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an antioxidant your body creates naturally that helps support healthy cell growth. CoQ10 can also be found in meat, fish, and nuts.
The results of a 2021 review of six studies suggest that CoQ10 can reduce the number of migraine days and migraine duration when taken in addition to prescribed medication.
Doctors typically need to review more and larger studies before determining whether they should recommend a certain treatment option. However, while studies on CoQ10 have been small, many doctors recommend it for migraine because it has few serious side effects and is believed to be safe.
When people do experience side effects from taking CoQ10, they generally report symptoms such as loss of appetite, upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhea.
For adults with migraine, the suggested dosage is 100 milligrams three times per day.
Feverfew is an herb that has been studied for its ability to reduce migraine frequency and improve migraine symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and light sensitivity.
As with other supplements, the studies that have suggested that feverfew can help people with migraine have been limited and small in scale. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health notes that additional research is needed to support the use of feverfew for reducing migraine symptoms.
However, as with other supplements on this list, people generally have few serious side effects when taking feverfew.
For this reason, some doctors say it’s safe to take for migraine. Side effects can include nausea, digestive issues, and bloating. You may also experience sores and irritation in your mouth if you chew the fresh leaves. And if you’re sensitive to ragweed, you may have a similar reaction to feverfew.
Magnesium is an important nutrient that plays several key roles in your body, such as supporting your muscles and nerves and regulating your blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Studies have found that people with migraine are more likely to have lower magnesium levels.
For this reason, magnesium has been studied in the context of migraine. Research has found that magnesium may help prevent migraine attacks and reduce the severity of symptoms associated with them. Magnesium is considered safe and is generally tolerated well by many people.
Magnesium comes in several forms, and certain forms are easier for your body to process than others. In some people, high doses of magnesium can cause diarrhea or stomach cramps.
You can also try to increase your magnesium intake by eating more foods that contain it. Magnesium-rich foods include:
Your body uses riboflavin (vitamin B2) to convert the food you eat into energy. Vitamin B2 is also critical for cell growth and development.
According to a 2017 research review, vitamin B2 may help reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. Although many of the included studies were small, people generally experienced few side effects. Many doctors recommend vitamin B2 as a safe supplement for migraine.
Possible side effects of taking vitamin B2 supplements include frequent urination or diarrhea and bright yellow urine.
Dietary supplements can be an important part of your plan for managing your migraine attacks and symptoms. But they are not a magical cure-all, and they don’t work for everyone.
If you decide to try any of these supplements, talk with your doctor first. You’ll want to make sure supplements don’t interact with any medications you’re taking.
Also, remember that it may take a few months for a supplement to start working or for you to notice changes in your migraine symptoms.
Keep a diary and note any changes in your migraine attack frequency or symptoms. If you notice any side effects, write those down as well. If you have any severe symptoms, stop taking the supplement and contact your doctor.
It may take a while to find the right supplements for you, but you might find a new tool to help you manage your migraine symptoms.
Medically reviewed on July 27, 2023
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