3. Xiao yao wan
Kelly Parcell, ND, of NatureMed Clinic in Boulder, Colorado, points to liver qi stagnation—when the liver doesn’t properly clean toxins from the body—as a possible cause of migraines. She suggests xiao yao wan (also called xiao yao san), a blend of plant roots, rhizomes, and mushrooms that is believed to help cleanse the liver.
Take: Use as directed; consult your healthcare practitioner.
Many women suffer from menstrual-induced migraines, which is why some healthcare practitioners, including Parcell, see hormones as a possible trigger. If your progesterone level is too low in relation to estrogen, it can cause blood vessels in the brain to dilate, which is a known cause for migraines. Parcell uses the herb chasteberry (as a tea or in concentrated herbal capsules) to boost progesterone levels. “I try to affect hormone change without actually giving the hormone,” she says.
Take: Parcell suggests drinking several cups of chasteberry tea per day. David Riley, MD, Natural Solutions’ medical editor, also suggests 500 mg of chasteberry supplements every morning.
5. Butterbur root
According to the journal Neurology, the root extract from this daisy plant is one of the best herbs to prevent migraines; patients who took butterbur extract saw migraine frequency decrease by as much as 48 percent.
Take: 100 to 150 mg two to three times per day. Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council, suggests looking for extracts with low levels of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA), which are naturally occurring in the butterbur plant and can be toxic to the liver. He recommends the brand Petadolex.