Ginger for Migraines
Increasingly, the use of ginger for migraines treatment is being studied and recommended. Most people suffering from migraines are often prescribed a group of drugs called triptans to relieve the symptoms of migraines and severe headaches. Triptans are a group of drugs which bind the serotonin receptors in the brain helping to diminish the swelling of the blood vessels in the brain. The most common side effects with triptans include dizziness, fatigue, dry mouth, flushing and infrequently chest pains.
It does not surprise me that many people wish to prevent or treat migraines using complementary remedies. Magnesium supplements are often recommended to prevent a migraine since magnesium is a muscle and nerve relaxant, which may help to prevent the swelling of the blood vessels in the brain.
Magnesium is also a mineral whose deficiencies are very widespread in the adult population due to the body’s requirements, which are huge since magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions within the body. Unfortunately most magnesium supplements are ill-absorbed by the body and even after absorption, magnesium is not taken up efficiently by the nervous system. A unique magnesium supplement that overcomes both these obstacles is Neuro-Mag and would be the supplement of choice as far as prevention of migraines is concerned.
Ginger has been used commonly as a digestive remedy, as an anti-inflammatory for joint pain and also for the prevention of travel sickness. Ginger is now gaining popularity as a remedy for helping to treat headaches and migraines.
A study involving 100 adult migraine patients, all of whom had established migraines without aura, were randomised to take either 250 mg of ginger or a triptan at the first sign of a migraine. The investigators used standardised scales to assess the symptoms at 30, 60, 90 and 120 minutes after treatment and also at the 24 hour period.
The percentage of patients reporting 90% or better symptom reduction at the 120 minutes mark was 64% in those taking ginger and 70% is those taking the triptan, a difference that was not statistically significant. Both ginger and the triptan drug reduce the severity of the migraine attacks within two hours.
Whilst using ginger for migraines was more or less as effective as the triptan drug, where it clearly outshone the drug was its lack of side effects. Only 4% of users using ginger for migraines reported side effects of excess stomach acidity whereas 20% of triptan users reported dizziness, vertigo and heartburn.¹
It is clear from these results that ginger works effectively to help treat most types of migraines even though we do not fully understand how it works. It is theorised that ginger, due to its anti-inflammatory properties, may prevent the blood vessels from becoming inflamed. Preventing inflammation stops them from enlarging and pressing on the nerves giving rise to the headaches.
Ginger is generally considered safe for use by most people, but caution is advised in those with gallstones since it releases extra bile, and also in people using blood thinning medications since it seems to also display some blood thinning properties.
The ginger supplement of choice is Lamberts Ginger Capsules with a dosage of just one capsule to be taken at the first sign of a migraine attack. Each capsule delivers an extract of ginger which has the equivalent of approximately 14 grams of ginger root, far more than that used in the study but still considered to be a safe and effective strength.
¹Maghbooli M, et al. (2014). Comparison between the efficacy of ginger and sumatriptan in the ablative treatment of the common migraine. DOI: 10.1002/ptr.4996
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