If you are someone who suffers migraines, you’ll know how debilitating they are, and how much they impact on your quality of life.
About one billion people each year are affected by migraines around the world. Doctors and research scientists have, as yet, no definitive answer as to exactly what causes them. We know that it is probably partly genetic, partly due to dietary deficiencies and lifestyle as well as hormone imbalances. There can also be triggers such as stress, hunger and lack of sleep. Women experience migraines more commonly than men.
Migraines, if you’re not personally familiar with them, can cause distorted vision, dizziness and vertigo, severe headaches, nausea and sensitivity to light. Some migraine sufferers also report numbness in the extremities and an almost painful sensitivity to touch, sound and smell. They can last anywhere from just a few hours to a few days, and how often they occur varies greatly too.
Magnesium, co-enzyme Q10 and the herb feverfew have been variously recommended as supplemental treatments to mitigate the intensity and frequency of migraines.
Around half of migraine sufferers are deficient in magnesium, according to a 2012 study.
A 2002 trial found that patients with a history of migraines experienced a modest improvement in symptoms after four weeks of Co-Q10 supplementation, and a reduction in symptoms of 50% or more was reported after five to twelve weeks, as well as a reduction in the number of migraine days per month. In 2016 a larger study into the link between vitamin deficiencies and migraines found that 51% of the more than 7000 participants had below average levels of one or more of the vitamins measured: vitamin D, co-enzyme Q10 and vitamins B2 and B9.
Feverfew is a plant from the daisy family that grows in much of Europe and North America. Anecdotal evidence from migraine sufferers suggests that feverfew can reduce the frequency of migraine attacks, but evidence from clinical studies has not been definitive.
A new study published in August 2017 has put these three known treatments together in a perfect storm to significantly reduce the severity and duration of migraines.
A supplement containing 100mg of feverfew, 100mg of co-enzyme Q10 and 112.5mg of magnesium was administered daily to 68 migraine patients over 3 months. To get an accurate reading, the study excluded those who had experienced two or more migraine episodes in the previous month, and those reporting medication overuse.
At the end of the three-month trial, 75% of patients recorded that the number of migraine days per month were halved. Results were seen in the first month and increased cumulatively in the second and third months of the trial.
The number of patients with symptoms of anxiety and depression was also significantly reduced – from 62% to 35% for depression, and from 52% to 30% for anxiety, with participants generally reporting an overall improvement in their quality of life.
Other nutrient deficiencies have been linked with migraines too – most notably vitamin D. Consult with your doctor or nutritionist to discuss which supplement or combination of supplements might be able to help you manage your migraines.