Prevention: The Future Of Migraine Therapy
Stopping a migraine headache before it ever begins is the new focus of treatments.
Until a few decades ago, people had little more than aspirin to fight the throbbing, debilitating pain of a migraine headache. Then, in the 1980s, researchers developed strong drugs to halt migraine pain once it begins. But those drugs have serious side effects. Some people cannot take them if they are at risk for heart disease or other conditions. Also, if the drugs are not taken within the first hour of migraine headache pain, they don’t help much.
These older drugs are still prescribed. But more recently, the approach to taming this lion has made a 360-degree turn. Now, prevention is the focus. It involves disabling a migraine headachebefore the pain ever begins. One method is to take non-migraine drugs daily to help prevent a migraine from starting. The drugs affect brain chemicals or blood vessel inflammation that lead to migraines.
Another is to fine-tune treatment for each patient. The goal is to take fewer drugs, avoid many side effects, and have better control of the beast. For example, you become aware of your pattern of getting a migraine headache, learn what triggers it, and take certain drugs during your own window of vulnerability – that is, the brief window of time you can most benefit from a drug.
Are They Helpful For Your Migraine
Vitamin A, C, D, E, K There are so many types of vitamins and minerals in this world! Most of the time, well be able to get sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals from a well-balanced diet. However, for people with migraine, some vitamins and supplements are more than just an option for added health benefits.
More than 4,000 members of the Migraine Buddy community shared with us via a survey the experience of using vitamins and supplements as a form of migraine relief.
Were sharing with you some interesting points from the surveys results so that we can all learn together!
Nutraceuticals And Migraine Treatment
Studies have shown that 80% of people with headache disorders have used some form of alternative medicine, including nutraceuticals, for headache treatment, said Dr. Chua. And there is some value to moving forward with this option. Multiple studies have been conducted evaluating non-pharmacological treatments for their efficacy and safety. The most common are:
- Magnesiuma mineral used to prevent migraine attacks
- Riboflavina vitamin also known as B2, which in high doses has been shown to prevent migraine attack
- Co-enzyme Q10 an antioxidant that, when taken regularly for migraine prevention, has been shown to reduce frequency and intensity of migraine
Feverfewa plant that can be used as a preventive treatment for migraineis another commonly used nutraceutical, but its effectiveness has not been well-proven in studies.
Other alternatives often cited for migraine treatment include butterbur, tree bark, lavender, peppermint, and ginkgo biloba, and there are tons and tons of others out there, Dr. Chua said, but there is less evidence available that supports their efficacy.
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Safety Of Supplements For Migraines
Most over-the-counter supplements are generally well-tolerated and safe, but here are some things to keep in mind:
- Always check with your doctor before starting a new supplement. Some vitamins, minerals, and other supplements can interact with medications you may be taking. They could also aggravate an existing health condition.
- Women who are pregnant should be especially careful about taking new supplements. Some are not safe for pregnant women.
- If you have gastrointestinal issues, or youve had GI surgery, you should also talk to your doctor before taking new supplements. You may not be able to absorb them like most people do.
Also keep in mind that when you start taking a new supplement, you may not see results right away. You may need to continue taking it for at least a month before noticing the benefits.
If your new supplement seems to be making your migraines or another health condition worse, stop taking it immediately and talk to your doctor. For example, caffeine may help reduce headaches in some people, but may trigger them in others.
Never assume that all vitamins, minerals, and other supplements are safe, or that theyre of the same quality. For example, taking too much can lead to headaches, nausea, coma, and even death.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist before deciding to try a new supplement brand or dosage.
Not all headaches are migraines. A migraine is a specific subtype of headache. Your migraine symptoms may include any combination of the following:
The Best Supplements For Migraines
As always, anyone suffering from any form of chronic pain should always refer to their doctor for the best course of action before embarking on any form of treatment. If youve already done so and are ready to feel relief, however, weve rounded up a selection of tried-and-tested supplements for nixing and in some cases, preventing migraines.Keep scrolling for Womans Worlds picks for the best supplements for migrainesto find out what each one does and where to find them.
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How Do Supplements Work To Treat Migraine
Supplements can impact body and brain functions in all kinds of different ways, some of which have been shown to reduce migraine frequency or the severity of migraine headaches .
For some people, a deficiency in a vitamin or mineral may trigger a migraine or increase its intensity, so balancing that with supplements can help.
With that said, no treatment is proven to work for everyone. As you probably already know, everyoneâs migraine patterns are differentâyour triggers are different than your sisterâs, and your frequency might be 3x what your co-worker experiences. And the treatment plan that works for others may not work for you.
Which Supplements Work Best For Migraine Prevention
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Finding an abortive and/or preventative treatment that works is often akin to finding the holy grail for those of us with migraine disease. It can be even more difficult for those of us who have limitations on the prescription drugs we can take and/or tolerate. Dietary supplements* may offer an alternative set of treatment options for those of us who have had bad reactions to pharmaceuticals, prefer not to take pharmaceuticals, or have many drug-to-drug interactions that prevent us from taking certain pharmaceuticals.
At the recent Migraine World Summit, Dr. Andrea Harriott, a board-certified neurologist and headache specialist at the John R. Graham Headache Center at Brigham and Womens Hospital in Boston, offered her insights and recommendations for supplements when it comes to preventing or aborting a migraine attack.
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Fillers Gelatin And Binding Agents
As always, even when choosing supplements, we must check the ingredients – the fewer the better. I find it easier to search for vegetarian or vegan capsules, which eliminate gelatin. Some patients find gelatin, even in a small capsule form, a potential Migraine trigger. I often wonder if people mistake this for a reaction to the supplement as it’s easier to blame the attack on the supplement itself. Since there are many vegan alternatives out there, its better to avoid gelatin unless you know it does not bother you.
Fillers and binding agents that you often see are cellulose, stearic acid, and magnesium stearate. Magnesium stearate has the most controversy of them all due to a 1990 study which found that suppressed cells that are responsible for the immune system. I’ve also read in some of my Migraine groups that it appeared to be a trigger for a few people. Fillers by themselves are not necessarily as bad as they sound. Some manufacturers use them to bulk up which might be a very tiny product without it. What you want to be careful of is brands that are using more fillers than actual product. While it may be less expensive, the fillers wont be helping you feel better in the long run.
Other posts on magnesium:
Magnesium Chloride & Magnesium Sulfate
You might be more familiar with epsom salts, also know as magnesium sulfate. Through research and discussion with other Migraine patients, it seems as if magnesium chloride is like Epsom salt on steroids. It appears to have better absorption and cellular penetration, as well as lower tissue toxicity. This form of magnesium is wonderful for topical applications, especially if youd like to supplement your oral intake. This would include adding it to a bath, foot soak, or applied topically in a lotion or spray form. Concentration of the solution, length of time it is in contact with the skin, and area it is applied all affect magnesium chlorides efficacy. Some find that if they do a soak for 20-30 minutes or apply to their feet before bed it helps to calm the body and promote a deeper sleep.
On the other hand, theres not a lot of great scientific research to back this up according to this 2017 study. I read a quote the other day that said something to the effect of a placebo is the perfect example of how healing starts with the mind. I personally believe theres more merit to topical magnesium than this study suggests, and its worth a try to see if it truly helps you. Since chloride is more expensive than epsom salts, I like to mix both if taking a full bath.
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The Link Between Vitamin D And Migraines
Many young adults, teens and children who get frequent migraines were more likely to have lower levels of vitamin D, riboflavin and coenzyme Q10, than people who dont get migraines, found a recent study. A vitamin D deficiency showed up in 70% of the patients, while 30% had coenzyme Q10 levels at the low range and 15% had riboflavin levels below normal. The boys and men in the study were more likely to have vitamin D deficiencies, while the girls and young women were more likely to be low in coenzyme Q10.
Though the results are intriguing and offer hope to people who experience serious migraines, its too early to say if taking a vitamin supplement is all you need to do to prevent migraines. The patients in this study who had vitamin deficiencies took a daily vitamin, but they were also taking prescription migraine medications at the same time, so it was not possible for researchers to test if vitamin supplementation on its own would be effective.
A Magnesium Deficiency Can Contribute To Headaches
Magnesium helps the body regulate nerve and muscle function, maintain blood sugar levels, and regulate blood pressure. Dr. Sara Crystal, MD, Neurologist and Headache Specialist, andCove medical advisor, told INSIDER there is good evidence that magnesium deficiency can contribute to migraines. That’s why she said many people find magnesium supplements helpful in treating these symptoms.
Since magnesium is considered a natural “relaxer” of the muscle and nervous system, Morrison said it’s not surprising that a lack of this mineral causes muscle tension, cramps, insomnia and widespread pain, including headaches. Good food sources include legumes, nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, fortified foods like breakfast cereal, milk, and yogurt.
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Try These Headache Remedies
Even after adjusting the dosage of your vitamins or discontinuing use altogether, headaches may persist until the excess vitamins are flushed out of your system. To alleviate headaches, there are some remedies you can try.
Dehydration can worsen your symptoms. A small August 2012 study of 102 participants published in Family Practice found that increased water intake has a significant improvement on patients with headaches. These improvements in quality of life were self-perceived in a questionnaire. Researchers concluded that drinking more water is a noninvasive treatment that is recommended for headache relief.
Lack of sleep and frequent sleep disturbances can also increase the chances of getting a headache. On the other end of the spectrum, getting too much sleep may make you feel groggy with headache symptoms. The recommended amount of sleep in adults is between seven and nine hours per night.
Unfortunately for coffee lovers, kicking your caffeine habit may help with your headaches. Try switching to or herbal tea to jumpstart your mornings. You may notice more headaches at first, but over time, your body will not be as dependent on caffeine for energy.
Read more:Causes of Waking Up With a Headache
What Vitamins Are Good For Menstrual Migraines
In a nutshell, the answer to this question is all of them! If you are low in any of the vitamins, then it could be influencing your ability to develop migraines. Vitamins and minerals work together in the body and its rare that you will be low in only one of them. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies come in packs.
For example, if youre low in vitamin C, you are also most likely to be low in vitamin E and vitamin A. These three antioxidants work together in the body. Vitamin C protects vitamin E and A so they wont be used up in the body. Vitamin E and A do the same. Thus, if you raise one of them without raising the rest of them, you risk causing a deficiency of the others you dont take.
This is why its often best to either take a multivitamin multimineral to get all the dosages right. By just taking vitamin supplements one by one, its guesswork. Ultimately, the best way to know what you should be taking is to see a clinical nutritionist who can balance these for you via what is found in lab tests.
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The Best Migraine Supplements Of 2020
Migraine supplements may not be a magic bullet for your Migraine care, but there are are a handful that is proven to help relieve or prevent attacks. These natural complements to your Migraine action plan can help reduce the intensity and frequency of your Migraine attacks.
We asked about your favorite Migraine supplements, and you answered. We broke up the voting into two categories:
- Single supplements – contain only one active ingredient
- Combination products – contain more than one active ingredient, e.g. Magnesium + Riboflavin
Thank you to our community at Migraine Again and The Daily Migraine! We got more than 250 responses.
Here are the results, in no particular order:
What Are The Symptoms Of A Migraine
Migraines can ache on one or both sides of the head and the pain will usually throb or pulsate. During these episodes, patients may also experience an increased sensitivity to sound and light including vision impairment as well as smell and touch. Migraines can also cause nausea and vomiting. Other unpleasant symptoms include stiff neck, irritability , constipation, yawning, and thirst.
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Omega 3 Fatty Acid / Fish Oil / Dha / Epa
How much: 1,000-2,000 mg / day
Omegas are all the rage these days. What exactly are they and why though!? Well dig into the why in a moment as for what fish oil capsules are healthy fats derived from fish containing Eicosapentaenoic acid and Docosahexaenoic acid which are classified as omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are found plentifully in salmon and other fish and in flaxseed.
Every time I turn around it seems that fish oil supplementation can be used to support yet another medical condition. Its no coincidence or quack attack though the more we learn about healthy fats and omegas the more we understand and realize their plentiful anti-inflammatory properties on the body.
According to The American Heart Association, omega 3 fatty acids also supercharge macrophages, specialized cells that destroy bacteria and eliminate dead cells. They also make platelets less sticky, potentially decreasing the formation of blood clots. The molecules also have been shown to play a role in tissue regeneration. In a study on migraine and omega 3 fatty acids, fish oil was found to decrease the intensity of headaches by close to 50% and the severity of migraines by upwards of 70%. Yas! In a study on 15 participants 9 found significant migraine relief from fish oil supplementation. If you want to check out a brand I love that doesnt smell or taste fishy click here. Keep those healthy fats bumpin yall.
Safety Of Vitamins And Supplement For Migraine Relief
If you think everything thats natural is absolutely safe, you need to re-think because not all natural things are always safe. You should discuss with your doctor before you start using anything, even if its a natural migraine remedy. Below are some measures to avoid any complications with supplements.
Never assume that all minerals, vitamins, and other supplements available commercially are of equal quality and safe. If youre planning to try a new supplement, consult with a nutritionist, pharmacist, or doctor first. Some minerals, vitamins, and supplements may have adverse drug interactions with any of the medicines that youre already taking, which could worsen your condition. The situation can be worse if the FDA doesnt recommend a particular supplement to be used for treating and preventing migraines.
Remember that FDA doesnt check supplements for safety and efficacy, so always check the labels and do research on your end to ensure that you arent putting your health at any risk and the product has been tested for efficacy, purity, and safety.
If youre pregnant, you need to be extra careful. You should never try any new supplements without consulting with your doctor first.
If youve got any existing conditions, discuss with your doctor to see if the vitamin supplements have any potential effects that could worsen your condition. Just because someone else is using it doesnt mean you can too!
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