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 Herbal Medicine: Migraine 

An example is the work of Dr. Hylands and colleagues. Seventeen patients who regularly ate fresh leaves of Feverfew daily as prophylaxis against migraine were invited to participate in a double-blind, placebo controlled trial of the herb. Of these, eight patients received capsules containing freeze dried Feverfew powder and nine, a placebo. Those taking the placebo had a significant increase in the frequency and severity of headache, nausea, and vomiting as well as the re-emergence of untoward effects during the early months of treatment. The group given capsules of Feverfew on the other hand showed no change in the lack of symptoms of migraine, providing clear evidence that Feverfew can prevent attacks of migraine. This led the researchers to strongly suggest its use in migraine sufferers who have never treated themselves with this herb before.3 Long term users often report beneficial side effects such as relief from depression, nausea and arthritic pain due to inflammation.

The venerable English herbalist's Gerard and Culpepper would not have been surprised at all at these findings! It is a pity that the patients given the placebo had to go through the renewed migraine attacks to demonstrate something already well known by herbalist's and the patients themselves.

Pharmacologists are putting great attention on this humble weed in the search for a new class of effective anti-migraine and analgesic drugs. As the dried or fresh leaf of the plant itself is an excellent formulation, why not just suggest it to patients? It raises social, political and economic issues as well as the obvious medical ones. To suggest the use of Feverfew as a remedy involves the doctor empowering the patient, in demystifying the treatments on offer. The patient is no longer totally dependent upon the expert skills of their therapist; they are actively involved in their own healing. The pharmaceutical industry may not be too happy as the plant is grown by nature free of charge and is non-patentable. In other words there is no profit in it! This is not to deny the value of research and exploration of herbal therapeutics, rather to question the ends to which they are put.

Following the clinical clues, pharmacologists are finding active components in the plant. Part of the herb's action appears to be via an inhibition of secretion of the granular contents from platelets and neutrophils in the blood. This may be relevant to the therapeutic value of fever few in migraine and other conditions such as osteo-arthritis.4 The five main compounds that were identified as having this activity were parthenolide, 3-beta-hydroxy-parthenolide, secotanapartholide A, canin and artecanin, all of which are sesquiterpene lactones. The researchers say that it is very likely that these and other sesquiterpene lactones inhibit prostaglandins and histamine released during the inflammatory process, so preventing spasms of the blood vessels in the head that trigger migraine attacks. As with all such impressive research findings, do not lose sight of the importance of whole plant activity rather than simply identifying `active' ingredients.

One possible prescription:

Feverfew 125 mg. of dried herb once a day.
Lavender massage oil into temples at first sign of an attack.
One possible prescription:
Migraine associated with stress and hypertension
Wood Betony
Cramp Bark equal parts to 2.5 ml. threes times a day
Feverfew 125 mg. of dried herb once a day.
Lavender massage oil into temples at first sign of an attack.
Many phytotherapists in Britain focus upon supporting the liver in migraine treatments. As an example consider the following mixture suggested by Mrs. Nalda Gosling F.N.I.M.H., one Britains best herbal clinicians. Note the preponderance of hepatics and bitters.
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 About The Author
David Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMHWhilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary wholeness and responsibility for it......more
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