Migraine headaches are one of the most common problems seen in emergency departments and doctors’ offices. Migraines are due to changes in the brain and surrounding blood vessels.
A migraine headache can cause intense throbbing or a pulsing sensation in one area of the head. It is commonly accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.
Migraine headaches typically last from 4 to 72 hours and vary in frequency from daily to fewer than one per year. According to the National Headache Foundation, more than 37 million Americans suffer from migraine, and it affects three times as many women as men.
Some migraines are preceded or accompanied by sensory warning symptoms (aura). Auras are nervous system symptoms that typically include: visual disturbances (flashes of light) touching sensations (sensory), movement (motor) or speech (verbal) disturbances.
Less commonly, an aura may be associated with limb weakness (hemiplegic migraine). Most people experience migraine headaches without aura. Each of these symptoms are usually gradual and builds up in intensity over several minutes then commonly lasts 20 to 60 minutes.
The journal Phytotherapy Research recently published a promising study exploring the use of ginger as a treatment for migraine and comparing it to the commonly prescribed medication sumatriptan – the results are encouraging for those seeking non drug based interventions.
The study involved adult patients with a history of migraines. Over a one month period researchers directly compared the effects of sumatriptan (a common prescription medication for migraines) versus ginger (provided in powder form).
Frequency and torment caused by migraines direct patients toward a variety of remedies. Few studies to date have proposed ginger derivatives for migraine relief. This study aims to evaluate the efficacy of ginger in the ablation of common migraine attack in comparison to sumatriptan therapy.
In this double-blinded randomized clinical trial, 100 patients who had acute migraine without aura were randomly allocated to receive either ginger powder or sumatriptan. Time of headache onset, its severity, time interval from headache beginning to taking drug and patient self-estimation about response for five subsequent migraine attacks were recorded by patients.
Patients satisfaction from treatment efficacy and their willingness to continue it was also evaluated after 1 month following intervention. Two hours after using either drug, mean headaches severity decreased significantly. Efficacy of ginger powder and sumatriptan was similar.
Clinical adverse effects of ginger powder were less than sumatriptan. Patients’ satisfaction and willingness to continue did not differ. The effectiveness of ginger powder in the treatment of common migraine attacks is statistically comparable to sumatriptan. Ginger also poses a better side effect profile than sumatriptan.
The lone side effect of ginger use was indigestion, experienced by 4 percent of users. But a whopping 20 percent of those taking sumatriptan suffered side effects ranging from dizziness to drowsiness, even heartburn.
Patients taking ginger felt so satisfied and impressed with their treatment that many said they would be continuing with ginger use after the study too.