Migraine is a recurring neurological condition commonly marked by headaches that cause moderate to severe pain.
Many medications are available to treat migraine, but they may not work the same for everyone and can have unwanted side effects. Supplements or natural alternatives are becoming increasingly popular options to prevent or treat migraine episodes.
This article reviews the effectiveness of supplements for migraine headaches and information on safety.
- sensitivity to light
Migraine pain is often throbbing and moderate to severe. It can occur on only one or both sides of the head. Migraine headaches last between 4 and 72 hours, depending on whether they are successfully treated (
More than 20% of women and 10% of men experience migraine at some point in their lives, according to estimates (
Migraine attacks can be debilitating. Effective treatments that are safe and well-tolerated can be extremely helpful for individuals with migraine.
Migraine is a brain condition marked by moderate to severe headaches, possibly accompanied by nausea and vomiting, visual disturbances, sensitivity to light, numbness, and tingling.
For example, migraine episodes are thought to be associated with oxidative stress and brain inflammation. Oxidative stress is a state of imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body that can lead to inflammatory responses (
Experts are interested in the ability of vitamin B2 to help lessen oxidative stress and brain inflammation in migraine (
An analysis of nine studies showed that taking 400 mg per day of vitamin B2 for 3 months significantly decreased pain associated with migraine attacks, as well as the duration and frequency of episodes (
What’s more, vitamin B2 appears to be well-tolerated and to have no serious side effects. Some health organizations, including the American Headache Society, specifically recommend vitamin B2 for migraine (
Vitamin B2 may help reduce oxidative stress associated with migraine. Human trials support the use of vitamin B2 supplements to treat migraine attacks.
As a result, magnesium is thought to play a role in preventing and treating migraine through a number of mechanisms (
For one, magnesium may help prevent the excessive activation of brain cell receptors and reduce pro-inflammatory signaling involved in the development of migraine (
Taking magnesium supplements may be particularly effective in treating premenstrual migraine headaches, according to older research. This is likely because magnesium deficiency may be linked to this type of migraine in women (
One observational study in more than 10,000 adults found that women with the highest dietary intake of magnesium had a lower likelihood of having migraine compared with those who had the lowest magnesium intake (
Furthermore, magnesium is helpful in treating migraine episodes that are not associated with menstruation.
A review of 21 studies concluded that receiving intravenous magnesium can significantly alleviate acute migraine, while taking oral magnesium supplements helps prevent migraine attacks, significantly reducing frequency and intensity (
A 2021 study in 63 people found that taking 500 mg of magnesium oxide daily for 8 weeks was about as effective at preventing migraine as the medication valproate sodium and did not have adverse side effects (
The potential of magnesium in treating migraine is also backed by the American Migraine Foundation. They recommend taking 400–600 mg of magnesium oxide supplements per day as a preventive option for migraine (13).
Keep in mind that magnesium supplements can cause diarrhea. This is usually a sign that you are taking too much.
If you are interested in taking magnesium to help with migraine episodes, speak with your healthcare professional to figure out the best dosage and form for you (
Magnesium deficiency is associated with migraine. Several studies have backed the benefits of taking magnesium supplements to prevent and treat migraine attacks.
This is likely because of its role in fighting inflammation in the brain. In addition, vitamin D may improve magnesium absorption and reduce the production of substances that increase during migraine attacks (
Taking vitamin D supplements may help prevent and treat migraine attacks, particularly in people with vitamin D deficiency.
A 2021 analysis of five high quality studies found that taking vitamin D supplements significantly decreased the duration, frequency, and severity of migraine headaches, compared with taking a placebo (
Another review study concluded that taking 1,000–4,000 international units (IU) per day of vitamin D might help reduce the frequency of migraine episodes (
However, more research is needed to investigate the effectiveness, safety, and dosage of vitamin D in migraine treatment.
Vitamin D may help prevent headaches in a variety of ways, and a deficiency of this nutrient has been linked to migraine. Taking vitamin D may help prevent migraine attacks, but more research is needed.
As an antioxidant, it may protect against the oxidative stress associated with migraine. Coenzyme Q10 may also reduce levels of enzymes that increase during migraine attacks and lead to nerve inflammation (
Therefore, coenzyme Q10 may help treat migraine.
A study in 20 adults with migraine found that taking 200 mg of coenzyme Q10 daily for 60 days led to significant reductions in the duration, frequency, and pain of headaches people experienced.
Participants also tolerated the supplement well and did not report side effects (
An analysis of six studies also found that coenzyme Q10 reduced the duration and frequency of migraine attacks. However, it did not reduce their severity (
It’s a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional, like your doctor or pharmacist, before combining supplements to make sure they’re safe for you to take together.
The antioxidant properties of coenzyme Q10 suggest that it may help treat migraine attacks. Some studies conclude that coenzyme Q10 supplements can reduce the number and length of migraine episodes.
Melatonin is a hormone released by the pineal gland in your brain at night. It helps you fall asleep.
Taking melatonin may help prevent migraine attacks, possibly by protecting the brain from toxic molecules, regulating neurotransmitters, relieving pain, and more (
A study in 49 people with migraine or chronic headaches found that taking 4 mg of melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime for 6 months significantly decreased headache frequency (
However, research on using melatonin in migraine prevention is still limited. Melatonin is generally considered safe, but more studies are needed to evaluate possible side effects and effectiveness (
According to limited research, taking melatonin may be helpful at preventing migraine attacks and reducing headache frequency.
Before you try a supplement to prevent or treat migraine, it’s important to consider its safety profile.
The supplements on this list are generally considered safe and well-tolerated. The limited research on their use in migraine prevention and treatment suggests there are no serious side effects from the doses used in existing studies (
However, the long-term effects of using these supplements are not well known. Possible dangerous side effects of chronic use cannot be ruled out. It’s also possible that these supplements may interact with each other or other medications.
There is also no standardized dosage for any of these supplements. Recommended dosages and forms vary. For instance, a dose that works safely for treating migraine attacks in the short term may become dangerous if you take it every day.
Furthermore, the side effects of supplements may vary by person. Taking too much can result in kidney or liver injury. You should be especially wary of toxicity if you have a condition that affects these organs (
Additionally, certain supplements may not be suitable for:
- pregnant people
- people who are breastfeeding or chestfeeding
- individuals with underlying conditions
- people on medications
Finally, it’s important to purchase supplements from reputable companies. Make sure the products have been tested for purity and strength by a third party. This will help you avoid products that contain unlisted ingredients and too much or too little of a nutrient or compound.
If you are interested in trying a supplement for migraine, always speak with your healthcare professional. They can help you understand the possible benefits and risks, the appropriate dosage, and what side effects to look out for.
While the supplements on this list are generally considered well-tolerated, possible side effects associated with long-term use are not known. They may not be suitable for everyone. Before trying a supplement, speak with your healthcare professional.
In addition to medication and supplements, certain dietary and lifestyle tips can help prevent migraine attacks.
- Monitor your food and drink intake. Make a note of anything that triggers a migraine espide, and limit or avoid that food or drink in the future.
- Cut back on alcohol and caffeine. These substances can trigger migraine attacks in certain people. Try swapping coffee for decaf tea and making an alcohol-free mocktail instead of a mixed drink containing alcohol.
- Try not to skip meals. Some people may find that skipping meals or not eating at regular intervals can bring on a migraine. Aim to eat your meals at the same time every day.
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration could be a trigger for attacks. Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day and refill regularly.
- Reduce stress levels. Try meditation, journaling, cooking, yoga, and other forms of relaxation. If your stress is getting difficult to handle on your own, speak with a qualified mental health professional.
- Limit exposure to bright lights. If bright lights make your migraine headaches worse (or bring them on), stay away from flashing lights, like at nightclubs or other venues. Take regular breaks from your computer and TV throughout the day.
Tactics to help prevent migraine attacks include monitoring food triggers, eating at regular intervals, and easing stress.
People who have migraine may be interested in dietary supplements to prevent or treat attacks, especially if they can’t tolerate medications.
Some research supports the use of vitamin B2, magnesium, vitamin D, coenzyme Q10, and melatonin to help with migraine. However, information on the effects of long-term use is not available.
If you are interested in trying a supplement for migraine, speak with your healthcare professional about safety, dosage, and possible side effects.