A guide to herbs for headaches – Disease Prevention – Health & Nutrition – Homemakers

A guide to herbs for headaches – Disease Prevention – Health & Nutrition – Homemakers.

A guide to herbs for headaches

Heather Camlot
Not all herbs have been scientifically tested for their beneficial effects on headaches, says Dr. Heather Boon, associate professor in the Leslie Dan faculty of pharmacy at the University of Toronto, and coauthor of 55 Most Common Medicinal Herbs: The Complete Natural Medicine Guide (Robert Rose, $27.95).


How it works: Butterbur’s active ingredients, petasin and isopetasin, can supposedly calm inflammation and muscle spasms.

Evidence: A couple of clinical trials are positive, but not definitive.

Side-effects: Mild gastrointestinal upset. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA), organic compounds that contaminate certain plants, are toxic to the liver. Take only PA-free extract.



How it works: Feverfew’s active compound, parthenolide, is believed to relieve muscle spasms, keep blood vessels from constricting and hinder inflammation.

Evidence: Clinical trials have had mixed results, but some show it helped.

Side-effects: Mild canker sores, allergic reactions and loss of the sense of taste are possible. Stopping long-term use could result in headaches and joint pain, occasional gastrointestinal upset and nervousness.



(an amino acid from the Griffonia plant)

How it works: Helps balance levels of serotonin, a chemical in the brain associated with sleep, mood and migraines.

Evidence: A couple of studies suggest migraineurs may be able to reduce their use of normal pain-relieving meds.

Side-effects: Mild stomach problems, such as nausea and indigestion.

Willow bark 

Willow bark

How it works: Contains salicin, a chemical similar to the one in acetylsalicylic acid.

Evidence: Never been investigated for headaches per se, but has been used for centuries to relieve inflammation.

Side-effects: Can possibly cause gastrointestinal irritation and ulcers. Too much can cause skin rash, nausea and kidney inflammation.



How it works: A natural tranquilizer, its sedating property also helps relax muscles and relieve tension and anxiety.

Evidence: Little scientific evidence, though its medicinal use dates back to ancient Greece and Rome.

Side-effects: Mild side-effects (including headaches!) the morning after.



How it works: Its antispasmodic and mild sedative properties relax tense muscles, especially in the back.

Evidence: Little scientific evidence.

Side-effects: Skin irritation from topical use. Ingested oil may be poisonous.

Peppermint oil 

Peppermint oil

How it works: Because the menthol in peppermint has a numbing effect, applying bruised fresh leaves or peppermint oil to the forehead may reduce pain.

Evidence: Little scientific evidence; studies so far have found no concrete proof of its benefits.

Side-effects: Heartburn, if ingested. Allergic reactions.



How it works: Relaxes the muscles in the head and neck, as well as along the arteries.

Evidence: Limited clinical testing has been done, so there is little, if any, evidence.

Side-effects: Rare allergic reactions.


About EverEvolvingSoul

* I am always growing and changing... * Always searching for knowledge... * With every lesson I acquire, I realize knowledge is freedom... * The more you learn about other cultures, other beliefs... * The less you judge and distrust... * Then as you accept the freedom of acceptance... * One encounters LOVE and APPRECIATION for every soul one encounters on their life journey.

Posted on February 26, 2011, in Eclectic Garden. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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