If you have been experiencing migraine headaches, then you are well aware of just how they are much more than just a regular headache. The excruciating, throbbing, and pulsing pain that accompanies a migraine can cause your life to come to a standstill. Most people who experience a migraine turn towards medication, but lately, more and more people are turning towards natural therapies such as relaxation methods and herbal remedies. While many of these herbal migraine remedies in use today have not been scientifically tested for how effective they are, but many of them are rapidly becoming popular amongst migraine sufferers. Let us take a look at these herbal home remedies for migraine from around the world and whether or not they work in relieving a migraine headache.
5 Herbal Home Remedies for Migraine from Around the World
Feverfew, also known as featherfew, has been in use since ancient Greece for treating a wide variety of ailments. Feverfew is known to provide relief in:
Due to its many applications, people have been using this herb for getting relief from aches and pains, including headaches. In fact, it surprises many to know that feverfew has been used as a remedy for headaches right from the first century.
In many Eastern European cultures, feverfew has also been traditionally used for curing insect bites, headaches, and many other types of pain. Today, the many uses of feverfew have been extended to include:
- Treatment of migraines
- Treating dizziness
- Providing relief in breathing problems
- Reducing inflammation
Coming to whether or not there is any scientific evidence behind feverfew’s effectiveness in treating migraine pain, a review in 2011 carried out by the College of Science and Technology in Jodhpur, India, found that feverfew is a very effective treatment for migraine. At the same time, the herb is effective in treating fever, the common cold, and even arthritis.(1)
On the other hand, though, a Cochrane review carried out by the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth that reviewed data from five large clinical trials found that there is little to no benefit of taking feverfew for migraines.(2)
If you opt to take feverfew for migraine, then keep in mind that the herb can cause some minor side effects, including canker sores, nausea and bloating. However, these usually disappear once you discontinue use. Some people also experience the following side effects:
- Increase in headaches
- Joint pain
- Difficulty sleeping
Feverfew should not be taken by people who are on blood thinners, pregnant women, and people who may be allergic to the daisy family.
A commonly used herbal remedy across Europe, Asia, and North America, people have been using butterbur traditionally for preserving butter during the warm weather, hence the name butterbur.
The herb has been used throughout history for the treatment of the following conditions:
- Skin ulcers
- Gastrointestinal issues
- General aches and pains
Butterbur is typically used in pill form for treating headaches and migraines. In 2012, a study carried out by the Baylor University Headache Medicine Center in Texas and published in Neurology journal supported the conclusions drawn from earlier studies that butterbur, when used in pill form, is an effective remedy for preventing migraine.(3) The butterbur has to be taken in its purified root extract form, known as Petasites, which is available in the form of a pill. 50 to 75 milligram should be taken twice daily to get relief from migraine.
Peppermint can be found throughout Europe, North America, and Asia. Peppermint essential oils and peppermint leaves are widely used for medicinal purposes around the world. It is known to be an effective remedy for headaches, but at the same time, it is also used for treating:
- Muscle spasms
- Gastrointestinal issues
Peppermint is readily available in the form of peppermint oil, and the active ingredient in peppermint, menthol, can be purchased in liquid capsule form as well. There are also many different types of peppermint tea that you can easily brew to get quick relief from migraine.
In 2010, a study carried out by the Shiraz University of Medical Sciences in Iran and published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice,(4) found that the active ingredient in peppermint, menthol, was highly effective at stopping migraine headache. It also alleviated nausea when menthol was directly applied to the forehead and temples. This was found to be effective only when used in a 10 percent solution.
While there is limited research on just how effective peppermint is, but topical application of peppermint oil is gaining popularity as an option for providing quick relief from migraine pain.
Peppermint oil is also one of the most easily available herbal remedies for migraine relief.
A tropical Asian plant, ginger has been used in herbal medicines for over 2000 years now. It is widely popular in Chinese, Indian, and Arabic medicines. Traditionally, ginger has been commonly used for treating:
- Stomach pain and other stomach distress
- Cold and flu symptoms
- Neurological problems
The anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties of ginger are well-documented and proven in many studies. For example, in 2014, a study carried out by the VALI-e-ASR Hospital in Iran and published in the journal Phytotherapy Research,(5) found that the benefits of ginger powder were actually comparable to the most commonly prescribed migraine medication, sumatriptan. At the same time, ginger had fewer side effects. This is also because most people are able to tolerate fresh or dried ginger extract, supplements, or root.
If you are opting to take ginger for treating migraine, you need to be careful that you are not combining any type of ginger supplements with blood-thinning medication as there can be drug interactions.
An herb that is native to the Mediterranean region, there are many medicinal benefits of rosemary. Some of these include:
- Treating nervous disorders
- Helping in memory problems
- Relief in muscle and joint pain
- Treating liver ailments
- Helping cure circulatory problems
- Treating and preventing migraines
You can either dilute rosemary oil or apply it topically, or it can also be inhaled for aromatherapeutic benefits. The leaves of the plant can be dried and ground for use in capsules. These can be found in many pharmacies and stores as well.
You can use rosemary teas, tinctures, and liquid extracts are also available.
Rosemary is known for its anti-spasmodic, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties, but the exact effect it has on migraine pain has not been explicitly studied.
Even though most of the times, herbal remedies are safe when taken correctly, there might be some side effects associated with some of these herbs that may be similar to prescription medicines. Some of these herbs can also interact with medications, including heart drugs, blood thinners, and even oral contraceptives. If misused, herbs can prove to be dangerous or even deadly. So it is always a good idea to do research and consult your doctor before you begin taking any herbal remedy for migraine.
- Pareek, A., Suthar, M., Rathore, G.S. and Bansal, V., 2011. Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium L.): A systematic review. Pharmacognosy reviews, 5(9), p.103.
- Pittler, M.H. and Ernst, E., 2004. Feverfew for preventing migraine. Cochrane database of systematic reviews, (1).
- Holland, S., Silberstein, S.D., Freitag, F., Dodick, D.W., Argoff, C. and Ashman, E., 2012. Evidence-based guideline update: NSAIDs and other complementary treatments for episodic migraine prevention in adults:[RETIRED]: Report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society. Neurology, 78(17), pp.1346-1353.
- Borhani Haghighi, A., Motazedian, S., Rezaii, R., Mohammadi, F., Salarian, L., Pourmokhtari, M., Khodaei, S., Vossoughi, M. and Miri, R., 2010. Cutaneous application of menthol 10% solution as an abortive treatment of migraine without aura: a randomised, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled, crossed‐over study. International journal of clinical practice, 64(4), pp.451-456.
- Maghbooli, M., Golipour, F., Moghimi Esfandabadi, A. and Yousefi, M., 2014. Comparison between the efficacy of ginger and sumatriptan in the ablative treatment of the common migraine. Phytotherapy research, 28(3), pp.412-415.
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