Dr. J. Ivan Lopez shares information on vitamins, minerals and medications that can assist in migraine prevention
Preventive migraine treatments are recommended for patients that experience more than eight to 10 migraine days per month, but according to Dr. J. Ivan Lopez, Professor and Neurologist at the University of South Alabama Health System, people living with migraine should not hesitate to discuss these options with their physician if their occasional migraine causes severe pain, nausea or vomiting.
“Patients should try non-pharmacological preventive therapies first, like exercise, getting enough sleep and eating regularly because all of those have been shown to prevent migraine in multiple studies,” said Lopez during a recent Facebook Live event hosted by the American Migraine Foundation. “But if you feel you need to go the pharmacologic route, there are many vitamins, minerals and prescription medications that have been shown to decrease the frequency and severity of migraine.”
Vitamins and Minerals
According to Lopez, most vitamins and minerals have been tested in small setting studies. That means that their efficacy in the treatment of migraine is lacking some scientific strength; however, many people living with migraine have found them to be an effective choice in their prevention strategy.
“Substances like magnesium and vitamin b2, which is also known as riboflavin, are commonly used as preventive migraine treatments,” said Lopez. “There is also a substance called Coenzyme q10. It’s taken as a pill and it’s often recommended for people with Parkinson’s Disease. That has also shown varying levels of success in the prevention of migraine.”
The medications used to prevent migraine are known in the medical community as “hand-me-downs.” That means they were not specifically designed for migraine prevention or treatment, but they can be used for that purpose. There are three types of drugs that are prescribed for migraine prevention, and they were originally designed to treat epilepsy, depression and high blood pressure.
“The first group of medications are known as antiepileptics and there are two that have become popular preventive migraine treatments over the years,” said Lopez. “The first is valproic acid and the second is topiramate, which is more commonly known by its brand name Topamax. Both these medications have shown prevention benefits in clinical trials and have been used by migraine patients for many years.”
There are also two antidepressants that have been used as preventive treatments for migraine, called amitriptyline and venlafaxine. “Amitriptyline has been in use since the late 50’s, but venlafaxine, brand name Effexor, is relatively new. It belongs to a group of antidepressants called serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor or SNRIs. Both are effective choices for migraine prevention” said Lopez.
There are many different types of high blood pressure medications, but the ones that work best for migraine prevention are called beta blockers. When discussing beta blockers, Lopez said they do decrease your heart rate, so he does not often recommend them for athletes or people who like to remain active in their daily life.
“All of these medications can potentially cause side effects,” said Lopez. “That’s why it’s important to discuss all of your lifestyle habits with your physician and to attend all of your outpatient check-ins.”
Aside from hosting regular Facebook Lives with leading doctors and health specialists, the American Migraine Foundation maintains a comprehensive resource library full of doctor-sourced fact sheets, toolkits and advice. Download our Emergency Room Treatment Guide for a list of things you need and ways to prepare yourself, or visit AMF’s website to learn more and to find a headache doctor near you.