I have struggled with headaches for most of my life. It often seems as though my body’s answer to just about anything is to have a headache: not enough sleep, low blood sugar, stress, lights, sounds, coming down with a cold, too much work on the computer… they’re all triggers for me!
It is very common for fibromyalgia patients to have headaches.
82% of fibromyalgia patients have chronic headaches, according to a survey conducted in 2013 by Oregon Health & Science University and the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association.  There are many kinds of headaches: chronic daily headaches, tension headaches, migraines, cluster headaches.
Often, as patients, we think that headaches are “normal.” I mean, who doesn’t get a headache, right? Wrong. Headaches are not “normal” — and there’s a lot that can be done to prevent them.
I’ve already written a couple of articles about headaches. On Headaches, Gluten, and Fibromyalgia, Part 1 and On Headaches and Fibromyalgia, Part 2 talk about some of the things I’ve discovered to affect my headaches. This article (Part 3) covers some of the research I’ve done on natural supplements that can prevent migraines.
Supplements that Prevent Migraines
The best way to treat a migraine is to not get one at all. Ben Franklin had it right, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Natural prophylactics (preventatives) have shown the following results in studies:
400 mg per day reduced both the frequency and duration of migraine headaches. In one study, 59% of participants cut their total number of headache days in half or better. 
1,000 mcg of B12 given as a nasal spray reduced the number of migraine days per month by 43%. 
75 mg per day reduced migraines 48% . If you have allergies be careful; people with ragweed allergies have been known to react to butterbur in a similar way. (Butterbur shown in bloom, at right. )
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
100 mg taken three times per day reduces migraine attack frequency by 50% or more. 
1 gram in an IV solution over 15 minutes completely stopped 80% of migraines.  400-600 mg per day of magnesium (glycinate or oxide) for 3-4 months can also be helpful, particularly for menstrual migraines. 
In one study, children who suffer from migraine and tension-type headaches were given 3 mg of melatonin at bedtime. Two-thirds of the children reported that their headache frequency decreased by 50% or more. 20% reported having no headaches at all. 
- As I mentioned in Part 2, if you haven’t tried keeping a headache diary, start there. This is particularly important if you want to try some of these supplements. The only way you’ll really know if they’re helping is by keeping a diary. If you don’t have it yet, grab a free copy of my book, Take Back Your Life. Once you get it, check out the Special Offer section in the back. The special reader offer includes worksheets, such as a pain diary that is perfect for tracking this.
- Choose ONE supplement to try. You might notice that a few of these are also on my list of vitamins that help fibromyalgia. If you’re not sure where to start, maybe pick one that’s on both lists. That way you can treat two things by only adding one supplement!
- Consider finding a neurologist that really understands migraines. Working with mine has helped me immensely, and most of these suggestions came from her.
In Part 4, I plan on discussing some of the medication options that I’ve tried, such as BOTOX. In the meantime, feel free to contact me with any questions you might have!
- OHSU/NFMCPA Survey of Symptoms Other than Pain for FDA Meeting Part 1. National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association. Web. 16 Aug 2015.
- Schoenen, Jean, Jean Jacquy, and M. Lenaerts. “Effectiveness of high‐dose riboflavin in migraine prophylaxis A randomized controlled trial.” Neurology 50.2 (1998): 466-470. Web. 16 Aug 2015.
- Van der Kuy, P-HM, et al. “Hydroxocobalamin, a nitric oxide scavenger, in the prophylaxis of migraine: an open, pilot study.” Cephalalgia 22.7 (2002): 513-519. Web. 16 Aug 2015.
- Lipton, R. B., et al. “Petasites hybridus root (butterbur) is an effective preventive treatment for migraine.” Neurology 63.12 (2004): 2240-2244. Web. 16 Aug 2015.
- Harper, Derek. “Butterbur in flower.” Creative Commons license: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Butterbur_in_flower,_November_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1068481.jpg.
- Sandor, P. S., et al. “Efficacy of coenzyme Q10 in migraine prophylaxis: a randomized controlled trial.” Neurology 64.4 (2005): 713-715. Web. 17 Aug 2015.
- Mauskop, Alexander, et al. “Intravenous magnesium sulfate rapidly alleviates headaches of various types.” Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain 36.3 (1996): 154-160. Web. 16 Aug 2015.
- Facchinetti, Fabio, et al. “Magnesium prophylaxis of menstrual migraine: effects on intracellular magnesium.” Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain 31.5 (1991): 298-301. Web. 16 Aug 2015.
- Miano, Silvia, et al. “Melatonin to prevent migraine or tension-type headache in children.” Neurological sciences 29.4 (2008): 285-287. Web. 17 Aug 2015.
Great post! And timely for us. My daughter has POTS and I believe she has fibro although it hasn’t been diagnosed yet. But she’s been having bad migraines lately. She had started some healthier practices. One was drinking more water. But I believe she was drinking too much water for her body size and affecting her electrolytes. I read where the b vitamins and magnesium could help. Great to read of these others we can check into!
Thanks, Kim! Yes, I find that during the summer, water alone isn’t enough for me. I’ve found some really great recipes for electrolyte drinks using fruit, salt, and coconut water. (Yum, right?) BTW – I visited your site. You’ve got some great things there! =)
Excellent research! Have you read about red migraine glasses for the prevention (and relief of migraines)? I’ve been doing research about it for my site, and the data was pretty astounding. A quote from one of the articles: “The light-filtering lenses brought immediate pain relief to 31 of the  patients.” The red glasses (or contact lenses in this case) block blue wavelengths that can trigger eyestrain and migraines (the same blue wavelengths that block melatonin production). I wonder if the same mechanism for migraine prevention is responsible as melatonin supplementation?
In a separate study, children who wore the red glasses saw a 74% reduction in chronic migraines over a 4 month period.
Check out my research page about it here. I think it’s the most complete run-down of the research out there:
Fascinating stuff! I’ll check it out!
Really interesting stuff Tami! I don’t know much about fibromyalgia to be honest but I definitely do know about migraines unfortunately. Dr. Katz (an MD at the Moran Eye Institute) also said people can use Feverfew for migraines. Have you ever tried FL41 tinted glasses? With you saying you can get a headache as a result of light, they definitely might be worth looking into!
Thanks, Melissa. Yes, Feverfew can be helpful. It’s usually found mixed with butterbur, which is also super effective. Check out this blog article for other supplements that may help: 6 Supplements that Prevent Migraines. I just learned about the tinted glasses. I’ll definitely check them out!
I’ll have to look for that combo. I’ll take a look at that supplements article too. Thanks Tami!