Alternative remedies often take their time making their way from the fringes to the mainstream. Usually, it takes decades for anecdotal evidence to build up to critical mass. It is only then that doctors then begin to suggest them to patients as experiments worth a try.
This is the process by which a simple, everyday kitchen ingredient – ginger – has entered mainstream medicine as a possible alternative to top-selling migraine medications such as Imitrex.
The case for ginger
Recent breakthrough research has compared the use of ginger to drugs like Imitrex in controlled clinical trials. With one group of subjects treated with powdered ginger and another with Imitrex, findings were consistently made in favor of the kitchen herb. Not only was it found to calm the effects of migraine, it produced none of the side-effects that Imitrex was associated with – arrhythmia, nausea, drowsiness or dizziness.
While some people do tend to complain of gastric irritation with heavy doses of ginger, most are able to take the herb without cause for complaint. The fact that ginger is far cheaper than pharmaceutical products aimed at the migraine market, works in its favor.
Why exactly does ginger help?
Ginger is effective with migraine in a number of ways. Its ability to neutralize oxidative stress is one of its most important effects. The ability of ginger to function as an antiepileptic is a powerful effect, as well, since both migraine attacks and epileptic seizures follow the same neural pathways.
Ginger acts on a peptide associated with migraine triggers called CGRP. While CGRP blockers are part of a future wave of migraine medications, ginger is the natural approach, and it can be used today (http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/846893).
Ginger works even better in combination
Feverfew, the traditional medicinal herb, is frequently prescribed to migraine sufferers, and it is known to be particularly effective in combination with ginger. One study reports positive effects among half of all subjects studied (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21631494).
Precautions to keep in mind with ginger
While ginger is a familiar kitchen ingredient, it is a powerful anticoagulant when consumed in large quantities. Large doses may interfere with cardiac medications and turn out to be unacceptable for people who struggle with gallstones and ulcers. A conversation with a doctor would be a good idea before embarking on a serious treatment program involving ginger extract. These commonsense precautions aside, though, ginger is an excellent idea to try on stubborn migraine.