Magnesium Supplements, Benefits, Vitamin B2, Feverfew, Butterbur - Page 3

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Magnesium Supplements, Benefits, Vitamin B2, Feverfew, Butterbur - Page 3
Reprinted by permission from Bill Faloon of the Life Extension Foundation

Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, has a variety of functions, from aiding in the manufacture of red blood cells to assisting in the extraction of energy from carbohydrates, protein, and fat.

Riboflavin may be related to migraines via tiny energy factories in the brain cells called mitochondria.  Low mitochondrial energy production in migraineurs may trigger the headaches, and having additional supplies of the vitamin on hand may help increase cellular energy production and reduce migraine risk.

In 1994, researchers from Belgiums University of Liege studied 49 subjects' head pain.12  The volunteers were given 400 mg of riboflavin with breakfast every day for at least three months. By the end of the study period, participants reported an average of 67% fewer pain attacks.

Four years later, the same researchers conducted a second study in which 55 migraineurs were given either riboflavin or a placebo for three months.13  Those taking the vitamin saw a decrease in the frequency of head pain and number of days they were down compared to those with the pain who received the placebo.

It apparently is necessary to take large doses of riboflavin -- perhaps 400 mg daily -- to obtain its benefits.  A few months may pass before results are seen.  Because many foods contain riboflavin, serious cases of deficiency are uncommon; however, for a large percentage of the population, riboflavin intake is either substandard or barely adequate, with elderly people and the poor especially likely to be deficient.14

In the 17th century, a British herbalist wrote that an herb called feverfew (tanacetum parthenium) was helpful in dealing with all forms of pain in the head.  Despite a centuries-old tradition of using this member of the aster family for head pain, fever, and other ailments, today it is mostly used as an ornamental shrub in gardens or along roadways.  Nevertheless, several studies concerning feverfews ability have appeared since the late 1970s.

In 1985, researchers looked at 17 people  who were already using feverfew to help head pain.15  In this double-blind, placebo-controlled study, eight people continued to receive feverfew, while nine were given a placebo.  Those who no longer received the feverfew reported having more, and more-serious, head pain.  The study results suggest feverfew does indeed support circulatory issues associated with pain in the brain.

In 1988, an intriguing report appeared in the prestigious British medical journal, The Lancet.16  Seventy-two subjects participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study.  When the volunteers took a daily capsule of dried feverfew leaves, the frequency and severity of their head pain dropped, and they experienced less nausea and vomiting.

More recently, scientists in Poland studied 24 women, aged 19 to 61.17  After feverfew was administered for 1-2 months, one-third of the women reported a significant reduction in head pain severity, with minor side effects.

In their review of the published literature, researchers from England's University of Exter concluded that feverfew is likely to be effective in the support of head pain and presents no major safety issues.18

Why feverfew helps, remains unknown.  Some researchers attribute the herbs properties to its parthenolide, which may hinder the inflammatory process,19 or to the release of serotonin from certain white blood cells and platelets, which in turn can reduce frequency and severity by keeping the blood vessels properly toned.20  Other substances in feverfew may interfere with the actions of arachidonic acid and histamine, which can contribute to pain and other symptoms.21

Feverfew has been approved in Britain and Canada with a generally recommended dose of 100 mg per day.

Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) is a shrub native to Europe and parts of Asia and Africa.  For the past 30 years, it has been prescribed in Germany.  Butterbur contains petasin and isopetasin,22 which are believed to slow the bodys production of leukotrienes.  With less leukotrienes present, blood vessels are less likely to become inflamed and pain less likely to develop.

A standardized extract of butterbur called Petadolex was used in two randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies to test whether butterbur would help with head pain.  In the first study, 60 subjects were divided into two groups.  For 12 weeks, one group received 100 mg of Petadolex a day, the other a placebo.  By the end of the first month, those taking the butterbur extract reported significantly less pain compared to those taking the placebo.  By the third month, the butterbur group had 60% less pain attacks than did the control group.  Related symptoms also were reduced and no significant side effects were reported among those taking the Petadolex.

The second study involving 233 people produced equally encouraging results.22  The volunteers received either 100 mg of Petadolex, 150 mg of Petadolex, or a placebo every day for 16 weeks. Those taking 150 mg of Petadolex daily experienced significantly less pain compared to the placebo group with mild gastrointestinal problems being the only reported side effect.  The study results suggest that 75 mg of butterbur extract taken twice a day with food may be the optimal dose.

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