If you suffer from persistent migraines, the intense pain can ruin your life.
But researchers say supplements may help ease some of the discomfort. Which ones? Here’s what I was able to find out. . .
Is Your Headache a Sign of Something Worse?
Migraine headaches can be a danger sign: A study at Charité-Universitätsmedizin (a university hospital in Berlin, Germany) demonstrates that women who suffer migraines run an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes as they grow older.1
The German researchers point out that one woman in five endures migraines. The researchers looked into the connection between the headaches and cardiovascular difficulties by analyzing health information from more than 115,000 American women who enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study.2
“The risk of developing cardiovascular events was shown to be 50% higher in women with a diagnosis of migraine,” warns researcher Tobias Kurth. “When compared to women unaffected by the condition, the risk of developing a heart attack was 39% higher for women with migraine, the risk of having a stroke 62% higher, and that of developing angina 73% higher.”
Those are massive increases in major illnesses, meaning migraines are a serious health problem.
Research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital shows that many migraine sufferers have deficiencies in vitamin D, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and CoQ10 (the nutrient the body uses to help make energy in the cells).3
This study analyzed blood samples taken from people prone to migraines who were patients at the hospital’s headache center.
The analysis revealed that women who suffer migraines are more likely to have shortages of CoQ10 than men, but male migraine sufferers are more likely to be vitamin D deficient. In addition, the people in the research with long-term chronic migraines were more likely to be deficient in CoQ10 and riboflavin than people who suffered episodic headaches.
Episodic migraines are defined as having 14 or fewer headaches monthly. Migraine sufferers who have 15 or more monthly headaches are considered to have chronic migraines. Frankly, I would set the bar lower and be concerned if I had six or seven headaches a month.
Supplements Can Help
Given those facts, it’s no surprise that researchers at a headache clinic in Taunus, Germany, have found you can somewhat ease migraines with dietary supplements.4
This German study involved 130 people who had three or more migraines a month. The investigators gave the participants supplements containing 400 mg of riboflavin,150 mg CoQ10 and 600 mg of magnesium. (They point out that other studies have found these nutrients lacking in people with migraines.) The people in the study also took a multivitamin-multimineral.
After three months, the people taking the supplements found that their migraine pain and the stress of suffering headaches had been reduced, although not entirely vanquished. The only side effects reported were abdominal discomfort and diarrhea, which the researchers believed were linked to the magnesium supplements. Magnesium is a laxative; some people are more sensitive to it than others.
Green-Lighting Pain Relief
Migraine headaches frequently cause their victims to be extremely sensitive to light, so many folks seek out a dimly lit room to try and ease the pain.
But a study at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston shows that a certain kind of light – green light – can significantly reduce this discomfort (whose technical name is photophobia).5
“Although photophobia is not usually as incapacitating as headache pain itself, the inability to endure light can be disabling,” says researcher Rami Burstein, the academic director of the Comprehensive Headache Center at Deaconess. “More than 80 percent of migraine attacks are associated with and exacerbated by light sensitivity, leading many migraine sufferers to seek the comfort of darkness and isolate themselves from work, family and everyday activities.”
The researchers found that green light, on average, reduced migraine pain by 20%. One possible reason: While red and blue lights trigger large neurological signals in the eyes’ retinas and the brain’s cortex, green light sets off much smaller signals.
Now, the tests at Deaconess used special light bulbs that emit light that the researchers call “pure” green light, so an everyday bulb that is green might not give you the same results. But trying these strategies – using green light and taking supplements – certainly can’t hurt. And you might find they offer real pain relief.