Feverfew is notorious for its ability to prevent and stop headaches. If one or two leaves are taken on a daily basis, it reduces the frequency of migraines, and if one does occur, it tends to be less severe than normal. Feverfew may work in several ways: It limits the secretion of compounds that cause inflammation, it prevents blood vessels from constricting, and it prevents the neurotransmitter serotonin from being released from certain cells. Feverfew accomplishes all this with minimal side effects.
One of the active ingredients in feverfew is called parthenolide. Research indicates that taking 250 mg of this substance per day as part of an extract of the whole leaf on a continuous basis is the minimum dose needed to reduce the number of migraines you have, as well as their severity. It usually takes four to six weeks before effects are noticed. Feverfew is best taken in capsule form or as a fresh leaf. Ginkgo biloba may also be of assistance if you have migraines. It improves circulation, decreases inflammation, and inhibits the production of a substance called platelet-activating factor that may be linked to migraines.If you have frequent headaches, it is important to identify what might be causing them. Keeping a diary of foods and reactions may help. Food allergies and sensitivities often trigger an attack; eliminating them may eliminate most painful headaches.The pain of tension headaches can be diminished with herbs that have sedative and antispasmodic properties. The sedative herbs will relax you, decrease anxiety, and help you feel calmer. The antispasmodic herbs will relax muscles in the head and neck and can also help relax muscles that line the arteries, preventing them from constricting and reducing blood flow to the brain. To get both sedative and antispasmodic effects, use valerian, skullcap, lemon balm, and passion flower. Make a tea or tincture of these herbs at the first sign of a headache and drink a cup or two. You can also include herbs such as lavender and mullein. On the other hand, if you're looking more for muscle relaxation, add chamomile, rosemary, or mint.Do not use feverfew if you are pregnant or nursing. Eating raw feverfew leaves may occasionally cause mouth sores; you may prefer to dry them and put them in capsules. The side effects of this herb are usually mild -- occasional gastrointestinal upset or nervousness.Classifying your headaches and noting possible triggers can help you avoid getting them; so can taking herbal remedies. But, if you do happen to get a headache, taking herbs may help ease the pain and provide some much-needed relief.