Lavender has been studied recently for several purposes, including treatment of mood and anxiety disorders (see, for example, the video I profiled in my last Care2 post, Lavender for Generalized Anxiety Disorder). Though it’s better known for its analgesic (pain-killing) properties, there hasn’t been a single documented clinical trial on lavender for the treatment of migraine headaches, which affect tens of millions of Americans every year. That is, until now: “Lavender Essential Oil in the Treatment of Migraine Headache: A Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.”
Migraine sufferers were asked—at the early signs of headache—to rub two to three drops of lavender essential oil onto their upper lip and inhale its vapor for a 15-min period, then score the severity of their headache for the next two hours. In the control group they did the same thing, but with drops of unscented liquid wax instead. Neither group was allowed to use any painkillers. In the lavender group 74 percent of patients had an improvement in their symptoms—significantly better than placebo.
Although lavender wasn’t directly compared to more conventional treatments and outcome measures differed, lavender appears to stack up pretty well against typical migraine drugs. Lavender helped about three quarters of the time; high dose Tylenol may only work about half the time; and Ibuprofen 57 percent of the time. The top prescription drug, generic Imitrex, is effective 59 percent of the time, and the hardcore treatment they use in emergency rooms where they inject you under the skin works 70 percent of the time. Fortunately all of these work better than the original migraine therapy, known as trepanning, where doctors drilled holes in our head to let the evil spirits escape!
The lavender researchers concluded that the results of the study suggest that inhalation of lavender essential oil may be an effective and safe treatment modality in acute management of migraine headaches.
Migraine sufferers may also want to experiment with avoiding potential triggers such as aspartame (see my video Diet Soda and Preterm Birth). Saffron may also help with headaches (Saffron for the Treatment of PMS) as well may the avoidance of certain parasites (Pork Tapeworms on the Brain and Avoiding Epilepsy Through Diet). A note of caution, though: Pregnant migraine sufferers seeking natural remedies should be wary of advice they may get (Dangerous Advice From Health Food Store Employees).
What’s better than treating your pain with natural remedies? Not having pain in the first place! Those eating healthy diets are less likely to be on pain medications in general (Say No to Drugs by Saying Yes to More Plants). See, for example:
- Cholesterol and Lower Back Pain
- Potassium and Autoimmune Disease
- Fibromyalgia vs. Vegetarian & Raw Vegan Diets
- Fibromyalgia vs. Mostly Raw & Mostly Vegetarian Diets
Michael Greger, M.D.
Image credit: r.nial.bradshaw via Flickr