Feverfew for the prevention of migraines...
It's not at all unusual for people interested in using herbs to replace over the counter medications with simple herbal counterparts. What has been unusual enough to generate headlines, though, is the conventional medical community's research and acceptance of a traditional European folk remedy, Feverfew, in preventing migraine headaches.
Migraines are believed to be caused by an upset in serotonin metabolism, causing spasms of intracranial blood vessels, which then causes dilation of extracranial blood vessels.
In the 1970s an English research group sought volunteers already using Feverfew before beginning a study of its efficacy. Their advertisement in a London newspaper brought more than 20,000 responses. Since then, several well-documented double-blind, placebo studies in England confirm its value. An interesting one reported in The Lancet (July 23, 1988; 2(8604):189-192) followed 72 volunteers. After a one-month trial using only a placebo, half of the group received either one capsule of dried Feverfew leaves a day (or a matching placebo) for four months. Neither the group nor the researchers knew which group was receiving the Feverfew. The group kept diary cards of their migraine frequency and severity. After four months, the groups switched medications, and the trial continued for an additional four months. 60 patients completed the study, and full information was available on all but one. The study found Feverfew to be associated with reducing the number and severity of attacks (including vomiting), with the researchers concluding that there had been a significant improvement when the patients were taking Feverfew. There were no serious side effects. Its primary actions are anti-inflammatory, bitter, emmenagogue and a vasodilator. Aside from migraine relief, long-term users report relief from depression, nausea and inflammatory arthritic pain. The Eclectic physicians of the 19th century called it one of the pleasantest of the tonics, influencing the whole intestinal tract, increasing the appetite, improving digestion, promoting secretion, with a decided action on kidney and skin.
Pharmacologists say it is likely that the sesquiterpene lactones in Feverfew inhibit prostaglandin and histamine released during the inflammatory process, preventing the vascular spasms that cause migraines. It appears to regulate the serotonin mechanism. To attain the maximum benefit from Feverfew, it should be taken daily as a preventive along with magnesium.
Magnesium for migraine relief...
About 18 million women and some 5 million men in the United States suffer from migraine headaches. Only about a third are satisfied with their treatments, which can range from over-the-counter headache remedies to serotonin receptor antagonists, beta-blockers and calcium antagonists. Many of these prescription drugs come with an array of side effects. But what if a mineral could make a difference for migraine sufferers?
Magnesium's role in the origins of migraine headaches has been demonstrated in a number of studies. It seems magnesium concentration affects serotonin receptors, nitric oxide synthesis and release, as well as other migraine-related receptors and neurotransmitters. In fact, evidence suggests some 50 percent of patients have low levels of ionized magnesium (IMg++) during an acute migraine attack. Alexander Mauskop, M.D., and colleagues from the State University of New York Health Science Center at Brooklyn set out to evaluate intravenous magnesium to treat headaches, to correlate clinical responses to baseline serum magnesium levels, and to see if patients with certain headache types had low serum ionized magnesium vs. total serum magnesium. Traditional blood magnesium tests measure total magnesium, but Mauskop believes the ionized fraction (IMg++) is more relevant to the migraine problem, so he developed a test to measure IMg++ and used it in the study. The researchers recruited 40 people (11 men and 29 women) who suffered from any type of moderate or severe headaches. Of these patients, 36 had some diagnosed form of migraine. Patients with renal, cardiac, diabetic or other medical problems were excluded. Age-matched healthy volunteers served as controls. When subjects had an acute headache, researchers measured their ionized magnesium, then gave them a 1 g intravenous infusion of magnesium. The results of this study were impressive. Only eight patients had no response to the magnesium, while 32 of the 40 patients (80 percent) had complete elimination of their headache pain within 15 minutes. However, as with other anti-migraine maneuvers, symptoms returned within hours in 14 of the 32 patients (43 percent). Still, with just this one magnesium treatment, 18 of the 32 subjects were free of symptoms for 24 hours or more. (One patient's remission lasted more than five months.) Almost all patients reported a flushed feeling after the magnesium injection, but that was the only side effect. Interestingly, researchers found those without pain for 24 hours or more after treatment were mainly the patients whose initial ionized magnesium levels were low, below 0.55 mmol/L. In all, there was a correlation between the clinical response to intravenous magnesium and low serum magnesium levels in 75 percent of the patients.
The conclusions from this study:
A substantial proportion of migraine patients probably have low IMg++. For those patients with low magnesium levels, acute migraine pain can likely be stopped with a single intravenous magnesium treatment.
The researchers summarize:
"Magnesium deficiency could be involved in both the vascular and neurological aspects (e.g., migraine aura, pain, nausea, etc.) of the development of migraine. Our results support a role for magnesium deficiency in the development of headache."
Introducing: MIGRAINE SUPPORT
This formula is designed to reduce the occurrence and severity of migraine headaches.
Several clinical trials have shown that Feverfew reduces the frequency and severity of migraine headaches when taken in small amounts daily. It reduces symptoms of pain, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and noise. It may be more effective in patients with more frequent migraine attacks. Magnesium compounds seem to reduce the frequency and severity of migraine headaches as well. Niacin has vaso-dilatory properties. White Willow has aspirin-like properties and therefore can provide pain relief from cluster headaches. Capsacin, the active ingredient in Cayenne, depletes the chemical messengers that send signals through the pain-sensing peripheral nerves, thus deadening the sensation of pain even when its cause remains present.
Try a natural approach to preventing migraines...
MIGRAINE SUPPORT by Orthomolecular Formulation.
Christopher Wiechert, C.N.C.
Christopher Wiechert's Healthblogger is for educational or informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or provide treatment for any condition. If you have any concerns about your own health, you should always consult with a health care professional. If you decide to use this information on your own, it's your constitutional right, but I assume no responsibility.
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