Yeli Williams, Medical Herbalist, BSc Hons, MSc, MNIMH, answers your questions (and see below article for special June offer):
Can herbal medicine help with migraine?
Yes, migraine is often very amenable to herbal support which can be very effective at reducing the pain, frequency, duration and severity of attacks (ref 1, 2, 3).
Migraine usually presents as a throbbing pain on one side of the head, often accompanied by
nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light or sound. It may occur with aura (preceded by flashing
lights, numbness and tingling or dizziness for example), without aura (ie without any warning signs) or as a silent migraine (symptoms of migraine without the head pain). Some people suffer recurrent debilitating attacks whereas others just have occasional episodes.
What are the contributing factors to migraine occurrence?
Food triggers are common and completing a diet /symptom diary can be helpful to identify any
patterns. Excluding common offending foods such as alcohol, caffeine, chocolate or other trigger
foods can also help (ref 5).
Hormonal triggers such as changes during menstruation and menopause are common and can be
managed using herbs that balance the hormonal fluctuations that occur during this time (Ref 4).
Stress can play a huge role- including stress relieving herbs along with any lifestyle changes can have a significant impact.
What can I do to help myself?
Identifying food triggers, ensuring regular meal times, sleep, relaxation and gentle exercise can all help to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks.
What are the treatment options for migraine?
Conventional treatments include, paracetamol, ibuprofen, triptans and antinausea medications. You can find more information by visiting the NHS website (ref 5). Alternatively herbal medicines (used alone or in conjunction with conventional treatment) can be blended to manage pain and nausea alongside underlying triggers such as stress & hormonal changes (ref 1, 2, 3, 4).
When should I seek urgent help?
You should call 999 if you experience any of the following: weakness or paralysis of arms or face,
slurred speech, sudden severe agonising head pain, headache with fever, stiff neck, confusion,
seizure, double vision or rash (ref 5).
When should I seek the advice of a herbalist?
If you’ve have been diagnosed with recurrent or debilitating migraine and would like to use herbs to reduce the pain, frequency, duration and severity of attacks then consulting with a herbalist can be a life changing experience.
A detailed case history will be taken to identify what specific combination of herbs may be beneficial for you.
I use fast acting pain-relieving herbs (which get to work within 30 to 60 minutes) such as white willow and anti-inflammatory herbs such as ginger combined with other analgesic and muscle relaxing herbs in my acute pain-relieving mix blended to reduce pain and duration of an acute attack (ref 1, 2, 3).
I also use longer acting herbs (which need to be taken for several months) such as feverfew and other indicated herbs such as stress relieving herbs or herbs to balance hormones for example in daily mixes blended to reduce frequency, duration and severity of migraine attacks (ref 4).
Specific mixes are tailored to individuals and dispensed alongside any relevant lifestyle recommendations. Some herbs commonly used for managing migraine may be contraindicated with some prescribed or over the counter medicines or with some common health conditions so by consulting a qualified herbalist you can ensure both safe and effective support.
Yeli is offering a special discounted rate throughout June – 10% off for existing clients on their next consultation and for a friend on their first. Ask your friend or family member to give ‘YOUR NAME’ quoting ‘JUNE OFFER’.
Ref 1) Clin Drug Investig 2006;26(5):287-96. Tanacetum parthenium and Salix alba (Mig-RL) combination in migraine prophylaxis: a prospective, open-label study. R Shrivastava 1, J C Pechadre, G W John
Ref 2) Am J Emerg Med. 2021 Aug; 46:567-571. The efficacy of ginger for the treatment of migraine: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies. Liyan Chen 1, Zhiyou Cai 2
Ref 3) Headache. Jul-Aug 2011;51(7):1078-86. A double-blind placebo-controlled pilot study of sublingual feverfew and ginger (LipiGesic™ M) in the treatment of migraine. Roger K Cady 1, Jerome Goldstein, Robert Nett, Russell Mitchell, M E Beach, Rebecca Browning
Ref 4) Acta Neurol Belg. 2013 Mar;113(1):25-9. Use of Vitex agnus-castus in migrainous women with premenstrual syndrome: an open-label clinical observation. Anna Ambrosini 1, Cherubino Di Lorenzo, Gianluca Coppola, Francesco Pierelli
Ref 5) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/migraine/