8 Dietary Additions that can Benefit Migraines

By Wanda

When first researching what natural types of treatments might help with migraine prevention and management of symptoms, it amazed me how loosely regulated claims made by manufactures were when it came to vitamins and minerals. In fact, the industry is pretty wide open because no FDA approval is needed for “natural supplements.”

Among the lists I found, there were three supplements (Coenzyme Q10, magnesium, and riboflavin), and two herbal remedies (feverfew and butterbur). The NIH did double blind multi-center studies linking a combination of these supplements, taken in specific amounts, to a decrease in the number and severity of migraines. To those I’ve added, peppermint for nausea, as well as soy lecithin, and Vitamin B Complex.


Let’s look at these one by one:

1. 150 mg of Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, daily has been shown in small studies to cut migraine attacks in both number and severity. It is a naturally occurring chemical in your body’s cells.

Classified as an antioxidant, it is the power house of the mitochondria, linking lower natural levels of CoQ10 with a theory migraines may be caused by lower cell energy in our brains. While CoQ10 can be found in some foods, it is most readily available as a soft gel capsules.

You can ask your doctor to recommend a brand, talk to your pharmacist, or check the internet for a formula that fits into your budget and supplement needs. CoQ10 is fat-soluble and best taken with meals.


2. 400-500 mg of Magnesium, was noted in a 2012 American Headache Society and the American Academy of Neurology study review to “probably be effective and should be considered for patients requiring migraine prevention.” 

Because of the low probability for serious side effects, magnesium can safely be taken by young migraineurs. Magnesium is readily available in most areas, and relatively inexpensive, making it a go-to for many migraine sufferers.

Magnesium Sulfate is often used in an IV to help with acute intractable migraines. While no pain relief has been widely noted, there was less light and noise sensitivity after the infusion.

3. 400 mg of Riboflavin, commonly known as B12, also helps energize the mitochondria in cells and is classified as “probably effective” for migraine prevention by the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society.

Foods that are often fortified with riboflavin in the U.S. include grains, breads, and cereals, although it can be found naturally in eggs, organ meats, lean meats, and leafy greens.

Some research suggests people with migraines might have a genetic disorder that makes it hard for their cells to maintain their energy levels which results in migraines. B12 is readily available as a nutritional supplement.


4. 75 mg of Butterbur should be approached with utmost caution. Although a study done in 2001 saw a slight reduction in migraine frequency, a 2004 study found the higher dose of 75 mg to show a higher percentage reduction of migraine frequency (45%).

Unfortunately, butterbur extract has shown to contain Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids (PAs) which can cause liver damage in humans and has caused mutagenic and carcinogenic issues in animal studies.

Despite butterbur’s potential effectiveness, the American Headache Society is re-evaluating it’s position on he use of butterbur, and cautioning AGAINST its use.

5. 250 mg of Feverfew, or tanacetum parthenium, is a plant with daisy like flowers originally grown in Eastern Europe and is now grown all over the world. In a series of five studies done in 2004, three found feverfew to be effective in the prevention of migraines while two found no variation between the placebo and feverfew.

In my opinion, feverfew tea is rather bitter and not helpful for a daily preventative measure, when honey is added to the tea, it can be quite soothing. Finding freeze-dried feverfew capsules is rather easy, though you need to check on the daily doses listed for each supplement in order to find the proper amount.

As feverfew is considered one of nature’s anti-inflammatories, caution needs to be taken if you have an allergy to the daisy family or when taken with a prescription NSAID. Again, it’s always best to talk to your doctor and pharmacist.


6. Peppermint is a wonderful anti-nausea solution; you can find it made as tea, essential oils, hard candies, lozenges, and best of all (in my opinion), peppermint patties. The menthol and other chemicals in peppermint oil have been found to have antispasmodic properties, which helps relieve cramping associated with nausea and other GI issues.

In 2001, a study by the University of Adelaide in Australia, researchers found peppermint oil helped reduce the perception of pain. A 2010 study by Shiraz University of Medical Science in Iran found peppermint relieved the nausea and vomiting associated with migraines. The higher the concentration of peppermint oil in candy or tea, the better health benefits; for more controlled do’s aging, you might want to consider peppermint oil capsules.

Personally, sometimes you just need the dark chocolate and peppermint oil in a Peppermint Pattie.

7. Soy Lecithin has long been claimed to be beneficial to brain health, and I’ve taken this supplement for years.

As of 2011, research data doesn’t back up these claims. Claims made in the “Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition” touts lecithin as having a positive effect on memory and cognitive function. Contrarily, a study published in “Brain Research Bulletin” suggests elevated consumption might lead to brain damage by inhibiting nerve cell connections.

So, knowing this, why do I still take soy lecithin? Because three different traumatic brain injury clinics recommended it and because Navy Corpsman told me it was good for the fluid around my brain.

8. Vitamin B Complex including vitamin B6, plays a role in synthesizing neurotransmitters that can influence the brain’s pain receptors. A Vitamin B Complex helps the ability to store and absorb Vitamin B12.

This unique and water soluble vitamin can help with energy production, amino acid metabolism, and catheter steps required for cell division. Being water soluble, it is impossible to overdose on a B Complex; however, you might notice your ruined getting yellower than usual.

When choosing the best supplements for you, remember QUALITY MATTERS. While the FDA doesn’t regulate vitamins and supplements, looking for key words or phrases helps in the hunt. Vegan, high absorption rate, product reviews, and asking your doctor or pharmacist for guidance will insure your get the best relief.

Remember, results may take as long as three months to notice but that Peppermint Pattie will always be right there for you. (I like to keep mint in the fridge!)


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