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HeadWay, Issue #078 -- The best Supplements for Migraine (part 2)
April 29, 2010

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In this month's issue:

Top Supplements for Migraine (part 2)

Interesting notes from the blog...

Say what?!  Deficiency

Top Supplements for Migraine (part 2)

Today we're going to take a look at two more excellent supplements for migraine - feverfew (an herb) and riboflavin (vitamin B2).  Last month we looked at two other very helpful supplements for migraine, magnesium and butterbur.


Feverfew has a long medicinal history.  The name of the plant in English, in fact, reflects this - it was long thought to alleviate fever (though research seems to show that it doesn't).  Today it's very popular as a migraine preventative.

Feverfew, also called bachelor's button, is a member of the daisy family.  Some people grow it on their own, and then harvest the leaves.  But most often it is taken as a tea or a supplement.  It's also used as an anti-inflammatory, and one of feverfew's key ingredients kills certain cancer cells (see this report).

Unlike magnesium, it seems that feverfew is often more useful in combination with other supplements (including magnesium).  Studies on feverfew alone as a migraine preventative have been conflicting.

Part of the problem is that every feverfew brand is different - one may help, while another may not.

However, when it does help it seems to not only cut down on pain but also nausea and sensitivity to light and noise.

Specialists and doctors have seen great improvement in patients particularly when using feverfew as a part of overall treatment.  And so, many well-known supplements for migraine contain feverfew, such as MigreLief (along with riboflavin and magnesium).

Though researchers continue to be cautious, feverfew has been approved in some countries for migraine treatment, and that's a big step of confirmation for an herb.

I've seen doses recommended between 100mg and 300mg daily, often taken in more than one dose.  However, sometimes the dosage is less or more, depending on the % of "parthenolide".

Because every Feverfew supplement is so different, most recommend "standardized" Feverfew containing parthenolide - usually between 0.2% to 3%.  MigreLief contains 0.7%.  Nature's Way Mygrafew contains 3% (recommended dosage 1x20mg daily).  There are some good options - do your research to choose a well known brand, and talk to your doctor.  Feverfew is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Read more about Feverfew at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Riboflavin (vitamin B2)

Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is a water-soluble vitamin, which means your body doesn't store it.  That means you need to get it daily from your food, which generally isn't a problem if you're eating a balanced diet.

Once again, trials have conflicted when it comes to migraine and B2.  However, trials have generally been small and limited.

Why does riboflavin work for some and not others?  Last year Headache and Migraine News reported on a genetic difference that could explain why some patients respond and others don't.  In the future, genetic testing may allow patients to find treatment faster.

Usually a high dose of riboflavin is prescribed for migraineurs, perhaps alone but usually in combination with other treatments (once again, MigreLief is an example).  A common dosage is 400mg per day.

It has been speculated, however, that a low dosage (ie 25mg) is better.  But so far the best evidence seems to be for the higher dosage.

Another interesting factor - one study seemed to indicate that riboflavin could help those with depression who were taking tricyclic antidepressants.  Since this type of medication is also prescribed for migraine, and migraine and depression sometimes go together, it's an interesting connection.

Once again, it's important to talk to your doctor about your options.  However, as this study on riboflavin for migraine points out, riboflavin is a relatively inexpensive and mild option, so it can usually be tried safely.  Try it for 3 months to get the maximum power of the riboflavin.

Recently there has been an increased interest in using riboflavin for childhood and adolescent migraine (200-400mg/day).  Again, results have not been conclusive, but it may be worth trying.

Positive studies seem to indicate that the biggest benefits from vitamin B2 are fewer attacks and less severe attacks.

More general information on riboflavin at MedLinePlus.

Vitacost has some quality riboflavin supplements from Source Naturals and Nature's Way.

Interesting notes from the blog...

If you haven't visited the blog for a while, here are a few posts that you might find especially interesting:

Say what?!  Deficiency

When we start talking about vitamins, the subject of "deficiency" comes up.  Just what does that mean?

Generally, the word deficiency simply means shortage.  When it comes to things like vitamins or minerals, there could be a number of causes - not getting enough in your diet, or a problem within the body (ie your body isn't properly absorbing what you're eating).

However, sometimes the use of the term is over-simplified.  Sometimes it can be assumed that, just because you're eating enough, that enough is actually being used by the body.

Also, even when you're getting enough of a vitamin or mineral or whatever, an extra quantity could be helpful with certain disorders and diseases (such as migraine).

So even though you may be eating the "recommended amount" of something, there are a number of situations where a supplement can be helpful.

Thanks for reading!  Remember, if you have feedback or ideas for future issues, visit the HeadWay MailRoom.  Your password is nomoache.
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