Three Herbs for Migraines
When I was nine years old, I suffered from my first migraine headache. Migraines plagued me for years, but I rarely have a migraine now. When I do, it’s short and mild. One of the reasons that I am no longer incapacitated from migraine pain is that I use herbs for migraines to prevent and treat these serious headaches. There are several herbal remedies for migraines – however there are three herbs that I consider to be the most effective. The herbs are ginger, feverfew, and butterbur.
Ginger, Step One:
Ginger, also known as Zingiber officinale, is a spice that you likely have on your spice rack and is one of the primary herbs for migraines. You might have some ginger root in your refrigerator, or some tasty candied ginger on a shelf. Two of the reasons that I like to use ginger for migraine pain are that it is readily available and inexpensive. Ginger has a warm, spicy, sweet flavor that relieves head pain and soothes the upset stomach which frequently accompanies headaches.
You can make a tea by pouring one cup of boiling water over one teaspoonful of dried ginger or one tablespoonful of fresh ginger. You can also just eat a few pieces of candied ginger. If you find the herb too spicy for you, capsules and extracts are always available. Ginger is safe for children as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women.
You can take ginger as a preventative or abortive migraine treatment. More specifically, you can take ginger on a daily basis (normally around 1 gram) to keep your migraine at bay, or you can take it at the first evidence of the headache coming on, and expect to see some migraine pain relief in a few hours (similar to Sumatriptan according to some studies).
FeverFew, Step Two:
Feverfew, which is also known as Tanacetum parthenium, reduces the frequency and intensity of migraine headaches and is the second of the herbs for migraines. Feverfew must be used regularly in order to work properly. While feverfew can reduce pain for some people once a headache starts as an abortive remedy, its primary use is to prevent migraines from occurring before they even begin. It takes about one month of continual use to become effective. Maximum effectiveness, which can be dramatic, occurs within three months of use. It works very well for me as a preventive but not when only taken just when a headache occurs.
I recommend using a tincture of the leaf. Follow label directions. Feverfew has a bitter flavor however, the tincture is better absorbed than capsules or pills. In theory, feverfew can cause mouth sores, however I have never witnessed this, nor did researchers who conducted of a large study of people using the herb. If you use feverfew and develop a mouth sore, stop using the feverfew. Consult with your healthcare provider if you have more questions.
Butterbur, Step Three:
Researchers and members of the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society decided that the herb Butterbur, Petasites hybridis, is an effective treatment option for adults and children who experience migraine headaches. Butterbur is the third of the herbs for migraines that we recommend. You can read more about their landmark study here.
Butterbur relieves head pain, anxiety, and gastrointestinal distress. Researchers found that 75 milligrams of prepared butterbur root is as effective as many prescription medications which are used to treat migraines. The herb reduces the frequency of migraines by approximately one half. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take 50% fewer migraines all day long. Sign me up!
Butterbur contains some compounds which may harm your liver, however commercial preparations are available which have had the offending compound removed in order to make the herb safe for use. If you opt to use butterbur, purchase product which are labeled as being pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA) free.
Herbs for Migraines
Herbs provide highly effective options for preventing and relieving migraines. Ginger, feverfew, and butterbur are just three of many effective herbal remedies for migraines. Other herbs are useful for treating pain, nausea, and tension which often accompanies headaches – and you can read more about those herbal remedies for migraines.
Herbs may also be used externally for migraine relief. For example, a washcloth dipped in cold peppermint tea and applied at the back of the neck is helpful for some sufferers. You may prefer a warm, bath infused with lavender to relieve tension.
Give these herbs a try! You may find, like I did, that you have fewer migraines and they are not as disabling as some OTC prescriptions can be.