4 Alternative Remedies to Fight That Headache


Hello again!  Last week we learned about several dietary strategies for addressing headaches. This week I highlight my favorite, evidence-based remedies. Knowing alternative remedies to common medications like ibuprofen is beneficial because long-term use can lead to unwanted health outcomes. In fact, in 2015, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strengthened their warning about the increased risk of heart attack or stroke when taking higher doses of ibuprofen. For an individualized approach to your care, schedule online through my website. But for now, here are some of my favorite remedies to replace taking ibuprofen:

  1. Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) root is a shrub with large leaves traditionally used to wrap butter in warm weather (hence its name). After four months of treatment with 150 mg of this root, there was a significant decrease frequency of migraine attacks (1). In fact, the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society endorse the use of a butterbur extract made from the root or rhizome to reduce the frequency of migraines (2). Use only butterbur products that have been processed to remove pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA’s) to avoid liver damage.

  2. Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium L.) has been used across the world historically. Several studies support its use for headache, likely for its anti inflammatory properties and ability to decrease vascular smooth muscle spasms. It can be useful for many types of headaches: migraine, cluster, premenstrual, menstrual and others. Supplements should be standardized to contain at least 0.2 percent parthnolide and according to Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium L.): A systemic review, adults can take 100-300 mg up to four times daily for migraine prevention (3).

  3. Magnesium, the second most abundant mineral in the cell, is essential in so many cellular processes and appears to play a role in getting migraines. There is strong evidence that migraine sufferers tend towards magnesium deficiency (4). Treatment of migraines by means of high levels of magnesium (600 mg) seems to be safe and cost effective strategy in clinical use (5). Please note that stress, which is common in people with tension-type headaches, may promote the development of magnesium deficiency (6).

  4. In case reports, Vitamin D deficiency is associated with chronic tension-type headaches and in each case the headaches resolved after treatment with vitamin D3 and calcium (7).


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15623680

  2. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/butterbur

  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3210009/

  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22426836

  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29131326

  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507250/

  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19619241