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Herbs For Headaches

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Herbs for Headaches

Headaches are a very common medical problem in the United States. More than 45 million people suffer headaches severe enough to require a visit to a doctor each year. While there are over-the-counter and prescription pain relief products, that can help alleviate symptoms of headaches, many people would prefer to use natural remedies. Some also like to combine clinical treatments with complementary alternative medical practices. Many herbs have traditionally been used as folk medicine for various types of headaches. However, only a few have shown promising results in scientific tests. One of these herbs is feverfew. It is a flowering plant that contains a natural chemical called parthenolide. Scientists speculate that parthenolide may decrease the frequency with which migraine headaches occur. There have been several studies that confirmed these beliefs. As a result, the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database lists feverfew as "possibly effective" at preventing migraine headaches. However, the guide cautions that the herb does not appear to work for all migraine sufferers and that it is most likely to help those who develop migraine headaches frequently. Another herb that has shown some promise at lessening symptoms of both migraine and tension headaches is butterbur. This is an herb that is related to feverfew. More research is needed to confirm its effectiveness.

Selecting an Herb to Address Headaches

Herbs in the daisy family like butterbur and feverfew could be beneficial to headache sufferers. However, not all people can safely use them. Those with allergies to ragweed, daisies, chrysanthemums and chamomile should avoid feverfew and butterbur because the herbs could trigger severe allergic reactions. Feverfew may also interact with blood thinning medications and certain drugs that are processed by the liver. If butterbur and feverfew aren't ideal for your needs, there are alternative herbs that have been used as folk medicine for headaches. Some of these herbs are believed to have the ability to reduce inflammation. This has led some scientists to speculate that they could be beneficial for headache sufferers. Among these herbs are turmeric and ginger. Some researchers speculate that herbs that contain plant forms of the sex hormone estrogen and could reduce symptoms of migraines. These include black cohosh, soy and dong quai. Much more research is needed to confirm the benefits of these herbs for providing headache relief. Many of these herbs can cause side effects and interact with drugs as well. Talk to your doctor before adding any herb to your headache management plan.

This summary is intended for general informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of purity, strength, or safety of the products. As a result, effects may vary. You should read product labels. In addition, if you are taking medications, herbs, or other supplements you should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before taking a supplement as supplements may interact with other medications, herbs, and nutritional products. If you have a medical condition, including if you are pregnant or nursing, you should speak to your physician before taking a supplement. Consult a healthcare provider if you experience side effects.

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