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7 Things To Know About Complementary Health Approaches for Headache and Migraine

A variety of dietary supplements and other complementary health approaches have been studied to see whether they might be helpful for migraines or other types of headaches. 

  1. The herb butterbur appears to help reduce the frequency of migraines in adults and children, but serious concerns have been raised about possible liver toxicity.

  2. There’s limited evidence that several other dietary supplements—coenzyme Q10, the herb feverfew, the mineral magnesium, and the B vitamin riboflavin—might help to reduce the frequency of migraines, but additional rigorous research is needed.

  3. Diets high in omega-3 fatty acids may be helpful for migraines. Omega-3s in supplement form have not been shown to reduce the frequency or severity of migraines, but a small amount of evidence suggests that omega-3 supplements might reduce the duration of migraine attacks. 

  4. Research results indicate that acupuncture may help relieve headache pain, but much of its benefit may be due to nonspecific effects, including expectation, beliefs, and placebo responses, rather than specific effects of needling.

  5. Biofeedback may be helpful for tension headaches. It’s unclear whether biofeedback is better than a placebo for reducing the frequency of migraines.

  6. Studies suggest that relaxation techniques, such as self-hypnosis paired with guided imagery or autogenic training with or without biofeedback, may help to reduce headache pain. However, the research has not been of high quality, so the findings should be viewed with caution.

  7. Take charge of your health—talk with your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. It’s particularly important to talk with your provider if you take medicine and you’re considering trying a dietary supplement. Some drugs and supplements interact in undesirable ways.