As intense migraine episodes eat away at productivity in workplaces across the United States, more patients who live with this condition are seeking alternative methods of treatment. A recent news story published by Medill Reports of Chicago’s Northwestern University profiled a migraine patient who was encouraged by her physician to visit a chiropractor and try herbal medicines in addition to conventional medications such as Imitrex.
The Chicago physician mentioned above is hardly alone in recommending herbal medicine for the treatment of migraine conditions. Even clinics that specialize in the treatment of headaches support the use of herbal treatments. Case in point: The Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago, which notes that the prolonged use of painkillers may lead to complications such as rebound headaches and liver ailments. Herbal medications are less likely to cause these side effects, and thus they tend to be a very reasonable option for patients who live with chronic migraine conditions.
The Most Often Recommended Herbal Treatments for MigrainesHerbal medicine predates conventional medicine by several centuries. This medical discipline started in ancient Asia and has been practiced by Chinese health professionals for thousands of years. In fact, the public health care systems of some Asian nations these days combine herbal remedies along with conventional medical treatment.
Natural products that can be taken as part of a preventative approach to migraine management include preparations that are rich in certain vitamins, minerals and herbs that contain certain active ingredients. Among the most helpful in this regard we can find:
- Dong Quai
PeppermintWhen combined with other herbs and mixed in an oil-based preparation, peppermint is very effective in stopping headaches and reducing nausea when applied directly to the temples and the forehead space just above the eyebrows. Dabbing small amounts of peppermint oil on a daily basis can help prevent migraine episodes.
GingerMany medical research studies point to the effectiveness of ginger for the treatment of headaches. This root has an immediate effect on inflammation relief, and it is most helpful when taken sublingually during a headache episode. A preventative method would be to drink ginger tea a few times a week.
CapsicumCayenne peppers have many health benefits, including the almost immediate cessation of strong headaches. When capsicum is made into capsaicin and bottled as nasal spray, it is usually recommended to migraine patients as a very effective and reactive treatment that can stop migraine headaches for about an hour. When capsicum in consumed as part of a regular diet, it can help in preventing future migraine episodes.
FeverfewThis pretty wildflower grows just about anywhere in the world, and it has both analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. As its name implies, this herbal remedy is often taken for the treatment of symptoms caused by influenza, but it is known to help relieve headaches. Feverfew is not for everyone, and it is not recommended for migraine patients who are pregnant.
ValerianThe root and buds of this wildflower have been used for the treatment of neurological and emotional ailments since ancient times. Even Hippocrates, known as the father of modern medicine, praised the medicinal benefits of Valerian. For migraine patients, Valerian is more effective as part of a preventative approach since it is effective in terms of relaxation and stress reduction.
Dong QuaiThe root of this plant is used as a spice in various Chinese dishes, and it tastes just a little stronger than parsley. In ancient times, Dong Quai was prescribed as a sort of cure-all remedy, but it is essentially an analgesic and anti-inflammatory herb. These days, Dong Quai root is usually mixed with other herbs for analgesic purposes. Medical research into this root’s properties and its effectiveness in preventing migraines do not support the idea of incorporating it as part of a preventative treatment strategy.
Many oils and lotions used in therapeutic massage include rosemary as a base ingredient. This aromatic and tasty herb has been used for centuries for the relief of joint pain and arthritic conditions, but its effectiveness in relieving migraine pain has only been studied since the late 20th century. Rosemary is mostly used as a relaxation agent to reduce the most common trigger of migraine episodes: stress. To this effect, this herb can be applied as a topical oil directly to the temples, forehead and neck.