Just Ask Terry
Terry is happy to provide his opinion on diet and nutrition, supplements and lifestyle choices. This information is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the advice of your physician and is not to be considered medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Should you have any concerns please contact your physician directly.
Q. Dear Terry,
“I have migraine headaches. Have you heard of the butterbur extract? It is supposed to have clinical studies. Also, what else can I take for my migraines? Thank you so much. I hope you can help. I’m tired of being in so much pain. I have an autistic son with apraxia and I need to feel good for him. Thank you again.” —Kim H., Pensacola, FL
A. Dear Kim,
There are many things that contribute to migraine headaches, and so the solution is complex as well. First, I have heard of the purple butterbur extract (Petasides hybridus
) and have reviewed the research. It may reduce the frequency and severity of your migraines. However, make sure you get the one used in the clinical studies, because purple butterbur contains liver-toxic compounds called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). These compounds must be removed from the supplement, and from my reading, it appears that the company that provided product for the migraine studies has a patent on this process. Therefore, it follows that it would be the safe one to use.
However, though helpful, purple butterbur will generally not completely eliminate migraines. The good news is that there are three additional supplements to include in your health plan to have much
better results. I list them here:
- Magnesium (200 – 600 mg per day). People with migraines often have lower levels of magnesium compared to people who do not have migraines, and several studies suggest that magnesium may reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. In one study, people who took magnesium reduced the frequency of attacks by 41.6%, compared to 15.8% in those who took a placebo. Some studies also suggest that magnesium may be helpful for women whose migraines are triggered by their periods. Make sure you choose a good absorbable form of magnesium (I like glycinate) because if magnesium is not absorbed, it will cause loose stools at higher dosage levels.
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin, 400 mg per day). Some preliminary studies have indicated that riboflavin can reduce the frequency and duration of migraines. In one study, people who took riboflavin had more than a 50% decrease in the number of attacks.
- Co-enzyme Q10, also called CoQ10. In one study, 150 mg of CoQ10 each day reduced migraine occurrence about 50% over the course of three month’s use. CoQ10 is also very healthy in general and an excellent addition to your daily supplement routine.
Last, but certainly not least, you need to look at the kinds of stress in your life. While caring for a special needs child can be wonderful and rewarding, it can also cause additional stress as well. If you have not done so already, finding a group of parents in a similar situation, and meeting to share both the joys and concerns of this care experience may reduce stress in your life. While stress does not cause the migraine syndrome in the first place, having a lot of stress, tension, anxiety, worry, and concern can certainly bring on an attack. Make sure you are doing something for you, to make sure you are getting your
needs met as well.
Healthy regards! Terry . . . Naturally