Natural Treatment for Migraines

Last week we explored four ways to help prevent migraines. This week we discuss butterbur (Petasites hybridus), a natural treatment that may be especially beneficial for migraine sufferers who prefer not to take strong prescription medications.

Butterbur is native to Europe, northern Africa and southwestern Asia, and has been used for centuries for headaches, back pain, and asthma.  Research suggests its actions – reducing inflammation and spasms in blood-vessel walls – may ameliorate migraine without causing the side effects associated with prescription medications. A study published in Neurology, Dec. 28, 2004 reported that after four months, people taking 75 mg of butterbur had 48 percent fewer migraine attacks per month – similar to the effects of prescription migraine drugs. Be very careful about the butterbur you purchase – only use butterbur extracts that are guaranteed to be free of pyrrolizidine alkaloids. The adult dosage ranges from 50-100 mg twice daily, and should be taken with meals.

Other natural alternatives include dietary measures, such as identifying and avoiding foods that trigger your headaches, as well as taking prescription strength doses of vitamin B2 to reduce the frequency and duration of migraines. Be sure to talk with your physician about the risks and benefits of any therapy.

Should You Take Butterbur?
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