Ask The Expert
April 08, 2013
My first advice is to make an appointment with your primary care doctor. There may be a reason for your headaches. If he or she can find a specific cause, it can be treated. And your headaches might be cured. For example, morning headaches can be caused by sleep apnea. And sleep apnea is quite common.
Every day I hear about someone telling one of my patients about a natural cure. Itís hard to think of any condition thatís not been targeted by ďnatural remedyĒ enthusiasts.
Nutritional supplements are touted to correct everything from fatigue and forgetfulness to respiratory infections and impotence. There are some rare and important exceptions. For example, vitamin D prevents rickets and osteoporosis. Folic acid before and during pregnancy help prevent spine abnormalities in newborns.
But there is no proof of benefits of most claims for vitamins, minerals or other ďnaturalĒ supplements.
Most headaches wonít respond to vitamins. But migraines may. An older study performed by Belgian doctors treated 55 migraine patients with vitamin B2 (riboflavin) or a placebo (sugar pill). During the three-month trial, those taking the vitamin had significantly less migraine attacks. The study used a very high dose of B2, ó 400 mg per day. Thatís more than 200 times the recommended daily allowance, but side effects were minimal.
In the natural product category, there is even better evidence for melatonin to prevent migraines. It doesnít help everyone. But itís worth a try. The usual dose is 3 milligrams per night before bed.
Of course, the most natural ways to help prevent headaches of any kind are lifestyle changes: