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Migraine

Migraine headaches are usually one-sided (sometimes bilateral) head pain. They affect women more often than men, and can have a number of triggers, and are more common if you have a family member with migraines. They can be distinguished from other types of headaches (such as tension or cluster headaches) due to additional symptoms of nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and worsening of pain with activity.

Our evidence-based analysis on migraine features 14 unique references to scientific papers.

Research analysis led by and reviewed by the Examine team.
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Summary of Migraine

What is a migraine headache?

Migraine headaches usually present as one-sided throbbing head pain, along with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine is very common and rated as the third most common reason for disability in both men and women younger than 50 years of age.[2] 

There are two major types of migraine: with or without an aura. Between 25-30% of people with migraine will experience auras, which are neurological symptoms (such as visual disturbances) that occur before, during, or after the migraine itself.[2] Migraine can be debilitating and disruptive to a person’s life. However, the symptoms are transient, and do not result in permanent physical disability. That said, migraine is associated with a 2-3 fold increase in risk of various types of stroke. This is why it is especially important not to self-diagnose and to really figure out if you may have migraine or not.

How is a migraine diagnosed?

Usually, a headache with additional symptoms of sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, and worsening with physical activity is most suggestive of a migraine. A migraine with aura involves reversible neurological symptoms that can be visual or sensory (e.g.: flashing lights, zig-zag lines, foggy vision).[2]

What are some of the main medical treatments for migraine?

In patients with acute migraine, first line treatments usually include two classes of medicines: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and triptans. Examples of NSAIDS are ibuprofen and naproxen, and examples of triptans are sumatriptan and rizatriptan.[3].

When these treatments are not enough to treat the migraine or when migraines still occur too often, preventative treatments may be prescribed.[4]. These can include antiseizure, blood pressure,and antidepressant medications. Consult with your health care provider about what treatments are right for you.

Have any supplements been studied for migraine?

Many supplements have been studied for migraine prevention and some seem to have some benefit. Some examples include riboflavin (vitamin B2), magnesium, coenzyme Q10, butterbur, melatonin.[5]

What's the connection between diet and migraine?

Certain foods such as cheese, chocolate and wine are thought to trigger migraine in some people. However, food-elimination diets have yielded mixed results for reducing migraine frequency. Specific dietary modifications such as the ketogenic diet, the DASH diet, low-fat diet have been studied for migraine prevention, but it is unclear if they help.[6]

Are there any other treatments for migraine?

Many non-medical treatments have been studied for preventing migraine by reducing stress. Some of these treatments include meditation, mindfulness, biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), yoga, and hypnosis.[5]

What causes migraine?

Migraine triggers differ from person to person. Daily headache journals are recommended to be better able to identify specific triggers. Some commonly identified triggers include alcohol, caffeine, fatigue, menstruation, certain foods (e.g.: cheese or chocolate), missed meals, smoke, stress, and weather changes.[4]

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Human Effect Matrix

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The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies to tell you what supplements affect Migraine.

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Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Supplement Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-b Strong Very High See all 5 studies
Feverfew appears to be strongly effective in reducing migraines when the population in question are people with high frequency migraines possibly accompanied by auras. Feverfew is not as effective, although still somewhat effective, in persons with less frequent migraines.
grade-b Notable Moderate See all 7 studies
Riboflavin supplementation appears to be quite effective in reducing migraine frequency based on preliminary research. The effect of riboflavin on intensity is still undetermined, and the optimal dose is not known as while most studies use 400mg one found similar benefits with 25mg.
grade-c Notable Very High See all 6 studies
Most studies have found a notable reduction in frequency and severity among those with frequent migraines.

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Frequently Asked Questions and Articles on Migraine

Does aspartame cause headaches?
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