Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Medicate Migraines While Breastfeeding?

I am a breastfeeding mom who suffers from migraines. Are there supplements that can prevent migraines but are still safe to use when breastfeeding? What about treatments when I have a migraine - are any of them safe to use?

Answer (Published 8/1/2005)

Fortunately for about 70 percent of women who suffer from migraines, pregnancy improves matters, at least temporarily. If you're very lucky, the migraines might not return now that your baby is born. But if they do, dealing with them can be tricky, especially if you're breastfeeding. You don't want your baby ingesting potentially harmful drugs that might be excreted in your breast milk.

You can safely take several supplements to prevent migraines while you're breastfeeding. Not all of them work for everyone, but they're certainly safe and worth a try. Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) can be helpful, as can magnesium and the herb feverfew, which is available at health food stores. The recommended dose of riboflavin is 400 mg daily - a pretty high dose, which needs to be prescribed by a physician. Recommended dosage for magnesium is anywhere between 400-600 mg daily, sometimes higher. Dosage of feverfew is 100-250 mg of an extract standardized to .7 percent parthenolides.

Another herb, butterbur, which recently has proved to be as effective and safe as some prescription drugs for migraine prevention isn't recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding because the appropriate safety studies haven't been done. In addition to supplements, you might also consider biofeedback as a non-drug approach to reducing the frequency and intensity of your migraines. Certain medications used to prevent migraines are safe to use while breastfeeding. They include some of the beta blockers (drugs used to treat high blood pressure that can also effectively prevent migraines).

While you have to be careful about medications used to treat headaches that do develop, some are safe for use by nursing mothers. You can get a complete list of which ones are safe to take and which ones should be avoided at the Web site of the American Council for Headache Education (ACHE). ACHE is the patient education arm of the American Headache Society, a professional organization of health professionals who specialize in headache treatment. You'll see that some widely used medications for pain are okay to use while nursing. Unfortunately, the "triptans," drugs especially designed for migraine treatment, must be used with caution since the medication can be excreted in breast milk. If you have a prescription for one of these drugs, I suggest that you consult your physician before using them while nursing.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here