Ok, let me begin with the obvious: I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. What I am is a lifelong sufferer of headaches and, more recently, migraines.
For years I didn’t realize that what I had were migraines because they came with none of the classic symptoms: no nausea, no weird vision stuff. I just got what I referred to as my "5-day headache". I would usually wake-up with a horrendous pounding in my right temple, which would get worse with movement. I found I could get the pounding down to a dull roar with a combination of over-the-counter meds. (My usual cocktail was 2 each of Tylenol, Advil, and Aleve).
This began in my late 20s and probably happened a few times a year until I had my daughter. After that it became a regular, monthly occurrence, usually beginning about a week before my period was due. At this point I finally realized they were migraines and went to my doctor for meds. I tried a few common migraine meds, but so far nothing has worked.
Recently my doctor referred me to a neurologist. Being the medical geek that I am (I love the “Annals of Medicine” stories in the New Yorker!), this was a fascinating meeting. I won’t bore you with the tests, etc. because what matters is the outcome. Basically he said I am a healthy person who gets cycle-related migraines and deals with pretty much constant, mild headaches the rest of the time. What was exciting is that he had some pretty benign suggestions as to how to approach treatment.
For the regular, ongoing headaches he has had a lot of success with a combination of two vitamins: Riboflavin (B2) and Magnesium Oxide. I take 100mg of the B2 and 400 mg of the Magnesium twice a day. Additionally, the week that I anticipate a migraine (which I can do since they’re cyclical), I take 1 Aleve twice a day (I could also take 1 Advil 3 times).
He also mentioned that the medical community is starting to see results with a supplement called Butterbur. I’d never heard of Butterbur before but when I mentioned it to the vitamin guy at New Seasons he got very excited and said a lot of people are using it for migraines now. I picked up a box of Petadolex for around $15, which was the brand he recommended. You take it at the onset of a migraine, much like you would a prescription medication. There is also a version that you can take daily, as prevention, but I didn't want to try too many things at once and it was quiet expensive that way.
I have only been doing this for one month but so far, the results are encouraging. I think I’ve only needed to take Advil one additional time for headache and managed to get through a cycle with no migraine. This could be a coincidence, but I’m encouraged. I will continue to follow this path and I’ll post results again in a few months.
Let me know if you decide to try this and what your results are as well.