Evidence-Based Alternatives For Migraine Headaches



A migraine headache can cause intense throbbing or a pulsing sensation in the head and is commonly accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.

Migraine attacks can last for hours to days. Many people seek comfort in a dark, quiet place and attempt to sleep off the pain.

Some migraines are preceded or accompanied by sensory warning symptoms known a s an aura, that include: flashes of light, blind spots, or tingling in the arms or legs.

Medications can help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.

There are also a number of evidence based alternatives.


Butterbur (Petasites)


Butterbur is an herb that contains chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids. These chemicals can relieve spasms and decrease swelling

75 mg of Butterbur 2x/day  was found to be  more effective than placebo and is well tolerated as a preventive therapy for migraine headaches



Magnesium is a mineral that is present in relatively large amounts in the body. Magnesium is important in more than 300 chemical reactions that keep the body working properly, such as proper growth and maintenance of bones and the  proper functioning of nerves and muscles.

Due to it’s function as a smooth muscle relaxant, magnesium has been used for the treatment and prevention of migraines.

The  prophylactic effect of oral magnesium was studied by Peikert et al., in the the Journal Cephalgia.

The investigators found that the attack frequency was reduced by 41.6% in the magnesium group that supplemented with 600 mg/day of chelated magnesium diglycinate.


Fish Oil

Fish oil is high in omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation by manipulating eicosanoids, similarly to anti-inflammatory medications.

Patients who supplemented with fish oil experienced a reduction in frequency, duration, and severity of headaches.

The typical dose is: 3-6 g in divided doses


COQ10 and Riboflavin

As study in the Journal of Neurology showed that Riboflavin and Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) were  effective in migraine prophylaxis.

CoQ10 (3 × 100 mg/day) and Ribloflavin 400 mg/day reduced  attack-frequency, headache-days and days-with-nausea.

Both COQ10 and Riboflavin work by improving energy metabolism



Acupuncture is widely used for the treatment and prevention of migraines and tension type headaches. In general, A beneficial response to acupuncture was more likely when the patient had local tender muscular points.

The frequency of attacks and use of symptomatic drugs significantly decreased with acupuncture.


Myofascial trigger points are hyperirritable spots in the fascia  surrounding skeletal muscles. Each muscle has a characteristic referred pain pattern. A trigger point can shorten a muscle and  pull on tendons and ligaments associated with the muscle. This can cause local and referred pain.

Trigger point inactivation by dry needling is an effective tool and valuable supplement for migraine prophylaxis and treatment.


Summary- Treatment and prevention of Migraines (Under the supervision of your Healthcare Provider):

  • Butterbur (Petasites): 75 mg 2x/day
  • Magnesium: 600 mg/day
  • Fish Oil:  3-6 g/day
  • COQ10:  100 mg 3x/day
  • Riboflavin: 400 mg/day
  • Trigger Point Acupuncture: A general course for chronic migraines is 2x/week for 4 weeks. For acute pain as needed.


About the Author

Dr. Geoff LecovinNaturopathic Physician/Chiropractor/Acupuncturist/Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist/Corrective Exercise Specialist/Performance Enhancement Specialist/Certified Sports Nutritionist/View all posts by Dr. Geoff Lecovin