Herbal remedies 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Simon Newman)
Q. Dear Natalie, I have recently started suffering from terrible
migraines. My doctor told me that it could be stress related. Are you able to
suggest any herbal remedies that can help ease migraines?
A. Migraine headaches
are very difficult to live with, especially if they are recurring. I strongly
suggest the herb Butterbur. The University of Michigan conducted a study in 2004
which proves that Butterbur may reduce inflammation of blood vessels and other
tissues related to migraines. The herb also works to regulate neurotransmitters
in the brain, reducing migraines. I suggest taking between 50 to 75 mg of a
standardized extract two times per day. You can find Butterbur in almost all well-stocked health food stores.
Another option is to try nature’s very own equivalent
to aspirin. Willow bark contains salicin, a chemical very similar to active
ingredients in aspirin. I prescribe this herb frequently for patients to treat
headaches, fever and pain. Feeling the effects of willow bark may take longer to
experience; however, the effects actually last longer. I suggest you take
between 60 to 220 mg of standardized willow bark every day depending on the
severity and frequency of your migraines.
If your migraine is accompanied with
nausea and vomiting, then try the herb Feverfew. In 2001, Yale University carried
out a study that showed Feverfew to contain parthenolide. This reduces
inflammation and targets proteins in the body. I suggest you try taking between
50 to 80 mg per day. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid taking
the herb.Q. Dear Natalie, can there be a link between migraines and a vitamin
There are many reasons people get migraines: hormones, stress, side effects of certain medications, etc. Migraines
can also be triggered by vitamin and mineral deficiencies. I suggest you speak
with your doctor and test your vitamin levels before you start taking
supplements. Check for deficiencies of folic acid and B-12 since they are most commonly
associated with headaches and migraines. When the deficiency is severe enough,
it can trigger migraines as a symptom, in addition to memory loss, irritability
Make sure your diet is rich in foods with high levels of folic acid. If your
levels are very low, I recommended taking folic acid and B-12 (up to 600 mcg and
2.4 mcg respectively). If a patient of mine has a severe migraine I tend to
check for an iron and copper deficiency. Symptoms of Anemia can cause
an increased frequency and severity of headaches leading to migraines.
works to help absorb iron. Therefore, if anemia is suspected, copper may be
deficient instead of iron. Copper also affects blood vessel constriction and
dilation. Migraines may occur more frequently if one has a copper deficiency.
Recommended intakes of iron are 18 mg per day for women of childbearing age. Men
and postmenopausal females need 8 mg per day.
Vitamin D assists with the
absorption of magnesium, which people who suffer from migraines may have a deficiency of.
Three top physicians Steve Wheeler, Barclay Gang and Frederick Taylor, claim
that when Vitamin D levels are within normal limits, it has
anti-inflammatory effect on your immune system by downplaying immunity factors that
play a role in pain. Supplemental doses of Vitamin D correct deficiencies,
therefore decreasing the intensity and frequency of migraines. These physicians
recommend 1,000 international units per 25 to 30 pounds of body weight and state
that dosing based upon body weight provides non-toxic doses of Vitamin
D.Q. Dear Natalie, are there certain foods which can trigger migraines?
Which foods should I be avoiding?
There are certain foods which are migraine
triggers, but not everyone has the exact same reactions. There are certain foods
that trigger a migraine in one person which may not affect another person. If
you are unsure, I encourage you to try to work by a process of elimination. Try
logging foods you eat prior to a migraine to help find potential triggers.
Certain food additives may also trigger migraines. Nitrates and nitrites are
preservatives used to add a cured or smoked flavor. Cured and processed meats,
including sausage, hot dogs, bacon, ham, salami, pepperoni, corned beef and
pastrami nearly always contain nitrites. If your migraines are brought on by
nitrites, you tend to react within a few minutes to an hour or two after
consuming the food.
If you suspect nitrate and nitrite sensitivity, check
foods for sodium nitrite, sodium nitrate, potassium nitrite or potassium
nitrate. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is used as a flavor enhancer and often used
to make meat more tender found in canned, prepared and packaged foods. Many
migraine sufferers can suffer from a migraine within 30 minutes of eating food
products containing MSG.
There are many varieties of alcohol that may trigger
migraines. Red wine is probably the most common type of alcohol that can trigger
a migraine, although any alcohol can do so. The possible suspected substances in
wine that trigger migraines include tyramine, histamine and sulphites. In some
cases I have found that caffeine can either trigger migraines or indeed be used
to treat migraines in other people. Don’t forget that caffeine is not just found
in coffee but also in tea, certain sodas, energy drinks, chocolate and certain
foods. Regrettably, there may be some specific components in chocolate which are
migraine triggers. Chocolate too has low levels of caffeine, which may be enough
to trigger migraines in more sensitive people.
This column is brought to
you as general information only and unless stated otherwise is not medical
advice nor is it based on medical experiments. This column is not a substitute
for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. For more
information about specific problems, please contact a doctor.
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