Ever wonder what it feels like to be stabbed in the skull by a pickaxe? Just ask anyone who’s ever had a migraine. About 12% of the U.S. population suffers from migraine headaches, but science still hasn’t come up with a definitive cause. Migraines can be triggered by food sensitivities—stay away from aged dairy, chocolate, citrus, red wine, gluten, you name it—stress, posture, sleep habits, vitamin deficiencies, mold and dust, hormones, and a host of other mysterious causes.
The good news? In recent years, a few herbs and supplements have been proven to aid in the prevention of migraine.
Magnesium is a chemical involved in hundreds of reactions in our bodies that aid in muscle and nerve function, blood pressure and blood sugar regulation, and reducing inflammation. And guess what? A growing body of research has emerged linking low magnesium to migraines. Studies have shown low magnesium in the brain during a migraine attack while other studies suggest that taking daily magnesium—ask your doctor about dosage and the kind of magnesium to take—can actually prevent migraines from occurring. The key to prevention? Remember to take your dose!
It might sound like an ingredient in a magic potion … and maybe it is. Feverfew has a long history in folk medicine, and for good reason. This flowering plant in the daisy family has proven anti-inflammatory and anti spasmodic properties—and it can prevent migraines. Herbalists will tell you to be patient with this one, as it takes a few weeks to a few months to be fully beneficial.
It’s been said that people with migraines are overly sensitive, or at least their nervous systems are. Nerves in the brain of a migraineur tend to react more drastically to certain stimuli and create “excitability” in the brain that leads to a migraine. Lavender is an extremely calming herb that, when used daily, can keep migraines at bay by promoting calmness and good sleep. Take a nightly lavender bath, put a few drops of lavender essential oil on your pillow before bed, or give yourself a little neck and temple massage with some lavender oil.