You've tried other remedies, but is there an herb for headache? Of course! Herbal medicine combines thousands of years of wisdom with modern science. Remember, though, that because herbs are very complex (just like your migraine!) we don't yet fully understand how they work. So like anything else
we do scientific studies and by trial and error find what works for most people. It's your job to find out what works for you!
The other thing to remember about herbal treatments is that, although herbal remedies tend to be gentler than drugs, if you take too much they can not only make your headache worse, but do real harm to your body. If you're doing much more than herbs in your salad or a cup of tea, talk to your doctor. Also, if you're on any medication you should also check with your doctor, since some herbs cause problems when taken at the same time.
Feverfew is a very popular migraine herbal remedy, and because so many people are interested in it, we've given it a page of it's own! Check out our article on feverfew here.
For hundreds of years peppermint has been used as a headache remedy. From tea to extract, there are lots of ways to enjoy peppermint. Be warned that peppermint is not the thing to take if you have heartburn or similar stomach acid problems.
Peppermint is just as useful for it's aroma and cooling properties as an essential oil. Read more about this herb for headache on our home remedies page.
Passionflower is a calming herb. Taken as a tea before bed, it can help you sleep. At least one clinic trial has found it to lower anxiety. It is also believed to have anti-inflammitory and pain killing properties. Great for migraine!
The leaf of the ginko tree is an extremely popular headache treatment, but the medical evidence is still hotly disputed. Ginko is said to improve the flow of blood and get more oxygen to the brain, hence not only relieving headache but improving memory and alertness as well. There are some nice teas sold with ginko and peppermint, so why not give it a try?
Note that Ginko is one of those herbs that can cause side effects when taken with headache medications, including aspirin and lithium.
Yes, that's right – the pepper. Many peppers have an ingredient called capsaicin, which among other things seems to raise the pain threshold. It's gained attention in the medical world in recent years especially for its treatment of cluster headaches, and it's often given in the form of a nasal spray.
Cayenne pepper is an excellent spice to have on hand (well, don't put too much ON your hand or you may burn it!), and may lessen your migraine.
White willow bark is an especially popular because it works much like an aspirin, relieving your headache pain and causing the inflammation to go down. Like any painkiller, it should not be taken long term. Once again, be very careful about taking willow with other painkillers and medications - check with your doctor!
Meadowsweet, valerian (excellent if you can't sleep), skullcap, chamomile (also common for relaxation). Boswellia is an herb than has recently been recommended for migraine.
Recent studies point to butterbur extract (petasites hybridus root) as a migraine treatment. Butterbur has been recommended for migraine before, but now the scientific evidence is starting to catch up. The dosages in recent studies for both children and adults range between 50mg and 150mg. Due to recent concerns about butterbur, be cautious until safer sources can be guaranteed.
Herbs for migraine and other headaches can be very helpful, but there's lot of bad and even dangerous information out there. If you really want to look into natural herbal alternatives, get a good guide that tells you the scientific facts. An excellent comprehensive guide to herbs is The Herbal Drugstore by Linda B White MD and Steven Foster. Another handy guide is The Complete Herbal Companion by Elizabeth Burch, MD.
If you're looking for herbs online, try drugstore.com for a variety of reliable brands.
Because during migraine serotonin levels drop, it may help to try to keep serotonin levels higher in your body. Sometimes this is done using the supplement 5-HTP. Read more about serotonin here.