Migraine is usually a unilateral, sometimes bilateral, intense pulsing or throbbing headache lasting several hours to even days. During an attack you may have nausea, vomiting, and heightened sensitivity to sound and light.The attack might be accompanied or preceded by aura (warning symptoms), such as blind spots, flashes of light, or tingling in the arms and legs.
The aura might last for 10-30 minutes. Other prodromal symptoms that can occur one to two days before an attack of migraine include constipation, diarrhea, depression, food cravings, irritability, hyperactivity and neck stiffness.
Though the cause of migraine has not been clearly identified, genetic and environmental factors are thought to play a role. Hormonal imbalances, alcohol, processed and salty foods, bright lights, physical exertion, change in weather, and certain medications like oral contraceptives and nitroglycerin can all bring on migraine. Conventional treatment is with analgesics, triptans, ergot, opiates and dexamethasone. Other measures that can help are muscle relaxation, yoga, meditation, resting in a dark and quiet room, acupuncture, biofeedback, and certain herbs.
Best Herbal Remedies For Migraine
Be sure to seek the advice of your doctor before trying herbs for migraine. Not only can they have side effects but also they can adversely interact with any other medicines you may be taking.
Feverfew is made from the leaves of Tanacetum parthenium. The extract contains the anti-inflammatory chemical parthenolide, which reduces the inflammation of blood vessels in brain. Take 100-300 mg 2-4 times daily for about 4-12 weeks.
Sometimes it is combined with white willow, or vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and magnesium. Some of the side effects you may experience are stomach upset and increase in heart rate. Use caution if you are taking blood thinner medications. Do not take it if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Butterbur extract is obtained from the root, leaves and bulb of Petasites hybridus. Its active chemicals are petasin and isopetasin, which are anti-inflammatory in their effects. Dose is 50-100 mg two times per day, taken with meals.
Use only those preparations from which pyrrolizidine alkaloids have been removed because they can damage the liver and kidneys and can also cause cancer. Side effects of butterbur are headache, fatigue, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, and constipation or diarrhea.
White willow is useful in migraine because its extract contains the active ingredient salicin, a naturally occurring analgesic similar to aspirin. Hence, it is also called as headache remedy.
The bark of Salix alba is used to prepare the extract. Dose should provide 120-240 mg of salicin/day. Do not take it if you are allergic to aspirin. It can cause stomach upset. Pregnant women should not take it.
The root of Angelica sinensis is used to prepare the extract. It is often referred to as “female ginseng”. Dong quai extract contains the active chemicals called coumarins and phytoestrogens.
Dose is 500 mg 3-4 times daily. It can cause stomach upset, and increased sensitivity of skin to sunlight. Prolonged use can increase the risk of breast cancer. It is not safe in pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Ginger is the rhizome (underground stem) of the plant Zingiber officinalis. Its active ingredients are volatile oils and phenol compounds, which reduce the inflammation and decrease the pain. Dose is 250 mg four times daily. Side effects include heartburn, irritation of mouth and stomach, and diarrhea.