Migraine headaches afflict 1 in 19 adults, of which 75% are women. Migraines also occur in an estimated 3% to 7% of all children. One in four households has a resident who is a migraine sufferer. In addition to medications, many migraine sufferers seek help from other natural solutions, such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, dietary modifications and nutritional supplements – all of which have been shown to be useful to varying degrees.
In recent years human clinical trials have shown that supplementation with specific dosages of the herbs Butterbur and Feverfew can reduce the frequency of migraine attacks by at least 50%, in migraine sufferers.
Butterbur is an herb that contains active constituents, which inhibit the synthesis of inflammatory chemicals known to trigger migraines. They also exert antispasmodic effects on blood vessels in the head, which may also account for its ability to reduce migraine episodes.
In a double-blind, study published in the journal Neurology in 2004 (Lipton RB et al), researchers gave 202 migraine sufferers butterbur extract or a placebo for a three month period. After 12 weeks, the butterbur supplemented group reported approximately 50% fewer migraines than usual. Other studies published in the journal Headache showed similar benefits, including reduction in migraine frequency in children and adolescence by up to 77%. The effective daily dosage for prevention of migraines in adults is reported to be 75 mg (standardized to minimum 15% sesquiterpenes as petasines), twice per day. A single dosage of 75 mg per day can be used for children six years and older as well as teenagers.
Feverfew has been used for centuries in European folk medicine as a remedy for headaches and other inflammatory conditions. The migraine-relieving activity of feverfew appears to work in a similar way as Butterbur (blocking production of inflammatory chemicals and improving blood flow in vessels within the head)
A survey of 270 migraine sufferers in Great Britain revealed that more than 70% of individuals saw improvement in migraine frequency and severity, after using feverfew for migraine control (University of Maryland Study – 2009). Other recent clinical studies published in Clinical Drug Investigation (Shrivastava R et al, 2006) and the journal Headache (2004) showed that supplements containing a standardized extract of feverfew reduced migraine attacks by 50%, in chronic migraine sufferers (Maizels M et al, 2004). I recommend supplementation with feverfew at 325 mg (standardized grade of parthenolide concentration of 0.7 %), twice daily, which is the highest yield of parthenolide available in the marketplace.
To derive the best possible preventive effects for migraine patients, it is best to take a supplement that contains both Butterbur and Feverfew, at the dosages and standardized grades outlined above.
In conjunction with chiropractic care, massage, acupuncture, stress reduction programs, acupuncture, regular exercise, the removal of foods from the diet that act as triggers, and other treatments shown to be useful in migraine control, the addition of a twice daily supplement containing the effective doses of Butterbur and Feverfew should be included in an evidence-based approach to the prevention of recurring migraines problems.
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