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Migraine Supplements- The Big 5 You Should Know About

Medically reviewed Danielle Aberman, Registered Dietitian (RD).

There is good evidence that some migraine supplements help prevent attacks and others help treat active episodes. We wish there were bigger studies on these supplements so that more doctors in primary care and general neurology would learn some of the things that certified headache specialists know – they work!

So, since social media continues to transform how people with migraine educate themselves, we hope this summary of the five most effective migraine supplements can help you soothe your own cranky neurons.

Please understand that “most effective” means that there has been enough research plus clinical observations in the medical community to deem these 5 migraine supplements as probably or possibly effective for migraine.

With that said, experiences will vary like most other treatments for migraine. Might these work for you? You won’t know until you try. If you plan on trying them, do your own research including asking your physician.

** While Migraine Strong writes about the latest in migraine treatments, this is not medical advice. We are patient educators and all information you read should be discussed with your doctor.

The preventive migraine supplements

1. Magnesium

Magnesium is probably the most accepted by the medical community as being effective. It is often given intravenously for migraine relief in emergency rooms, for inpatient care as well as outpatient care for acute attacks.

IV magnesium is used to help blunt pain in for other conditions, too. It is widely accepted as helpful.

Oral magnesium supplements are often listed on handouts given to us at doctor’s appointments. What is most important to know about magnesium is that the type and amount taken are very important.  Our doctors don’t always know this information.

Often, people try magnesium and have gastrointestinal upset or think it’s not effective when they really just needed a better form and/or a higher amount. Also, it may take several weeks for your body to be replenished with this important nutrient, so it’s important to give the magnesium enough time.

We have an entire article that explores magnesium for migraine for a deeper dive into this important mineral.

The 3 magnesium products that we use the most are:
Magnesium Glycinate from Pure Encapsulations
CogniMag, Magnesium Threonate, from Pure Encapsulations
Life Flo Magnesium Chloride Flakes for foot soaks and baths

Soaking and bathing with magnesium may be an effective way to boost your magnesium levels if you are limited in how much oral magnesium you choose to take. The magnesium chloride flakes mentioned above or epsom salts may help you boost your levels as well as take the time for needed self care.

2. Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

Based on the recent review of studies, it seems that riboflavin is effective for a significant percentage of people with migraine.  In one study, riboflavin was given to a group of participants and sodium valproate was given to the other group. In another study riboflavin was given to one group while propranolol was given to the other.

Riboflavin was considered “non-inferior” to both commonly prescribed and effective medications, sodium valproate and propranolol. Additionally, there were fewer side-effects reported in the riboflavin groups. So, would this “non-inferior” vitamin work for you? Perhaps.

Most of the studies used 400mg/day of riboflavin but some used lower amounts. For reference, the daily recommended intake for an adult woman is 1.1mg, so the dosages used in the studies were quite large. Based on what I read in the referenced review, as well as elsewhere, riboflavin is metabolized and cleared from our bodies quickly.

Additionally, it’s unclear if the majority of the 400mg consumed is actually absorbed. That said, my personal approach to taking this supplement is to spread it out in 2-3 doses and hope that doing so makes a difference. Duration was also important as the effects of riboflavin were more pronounced after 3 months. 

A nice feature of using riboflavin as a migraine supplement for prevention is its excellent tolerability and low cost. The American Academy of Neurology considers riboflavin a Level B evidence rating. This means that they consider it “probably effective” based on studies. 

It’s not easy finding riboflavin in this higher dose, but here are a couple of choices that we like:
Riboflavin (B2) by Integrative Therapeutics (400mg)
Riboflavin (B2) by Solgar (100mg)
Riboflavin (B2) by Douglas Laboratories

3. Feverfew

The research supporting the use of this herbal migraine supplement, feverfew, is mixed. But, as with many nutritional supplements, especially the herbal ones, there isn’t much interest in doing big, well-designed studies as they are costly. And, if the supplement company sponsors the study, many in the medical community will not put much weight into the results.

Apparently, there is enough positive feedback among neurologists for feverfew to be listed as one of the supplements that might help migraine. Dr. John Carey and Dr. Michael Teixido recommend 50 mg/day of feverfew.

A popular combination supplement that includes magnesium, riboflavin and feverfew for migraine specifically is called Migrelief.

4. Coenzyme Q10

A migraine supplement that may be nearly as compelling to try as magnesium and riboflavin is coenzyme Q10. CoQ10 is an important nutrient for mitochondria, the powerhouses of our cells.

Some researchers believe that mitochondrial dysfunction may be part of the reason some people have migraine. Other nutritional supplements that help people with migraine may be helpful to mitochondria, so perhaps this is why many recommend supplementing with CoQ10.

The recommendation from Drs. John Carey and Michael Teixido is to take up to 100mg three times per day to reduce the frequency of migraine episodes

Coenzyme Q10 is expensive. It’s is commonly packaged in a gelatin capsule that some people with migraine do not tolerate well. Here is one that we like:
Pure Encapsulations CoQ10

The acute relief migraine supplement

5. Ginger (a Migraine Strong favorite!)

We probably know as many ginger-enthusiasts as magnesium-enthusiasts. Ginger can be so helpful for quite a large percentage of us. It’s cheap, available and not limited by prescriptions and insurance coverage!

You can read more about how ginger for migraine works as well as the many ways to use it in our full article on this helpful migraine supplement.

Our favorite ginger supplements are:
Ginger by Pure Encapsulations
Gaia Ginger Supreme

In summary, magnesium, riboflavin, feverfew, and coQ10 for migraine prevention have good studies and clinical support for their role in migraine prevention. Ginger for migraine is used most often as an acute treatment. Anecdotally, daily ginger may be helpful too.

We urge you to shop for the best prices on quality migraine supplements. For convenience and savings for our friends and visitors, we offer discounts on a tremendous selection of supplements and other items in our dispensary.

This has been updated and revised from its original publication in 2019.

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13 thoughts on “Migraine Supplements- The Big 5 You Should Know About

    1. Hi, Alanna. While we do not give advice on dosing, I can share with you that the recommendations from Dr. John Carey at Johns Hopkins for his patients: take up to 400mg of magnesium twice per day, up to 400mg riboflavin per day, up to 100 mg of CoQ10 3 times per day and 50 mg of feverfew as needed. Regarding ginger, you can just refer to the suggestion on the label. I hope you fell better!

  1. You mention that some people do not tolerate the gelatin capsule (in relation the CoQ10). What do those symptoms look like? How would I know if the gelatin capsule is the problem? Thanks!

    1. Hi Liz and thanks for your question. Gelatin is a migraine trigger for some people so the symptoms a gelatin-sensitive person would have would be the onset of a migraine episode. You might know if gelatin is a problem for you if you associated migraine attacks after taking the gelcaps. Figure out food sensitivities can be tough as many of us with frequent and chronic migraine have a few. If you have many migraine attacks each month you may wish to consider a migraine-oriented elimination diet like the heal your headache diet. https://www.migrainestrong.com/heal-your-headache-diet-the-migraine-diet/ – Danielle

  2. I purchased the Gaia ginger supreme and took just one capsule for the first time and my stomach burned and had diarrhea. Is there another way to take it for a headache that won’t mess up your stomach?

    1. Just some more information on ginger. It is highly used for digestion. I have never heard of the burning before, but diarrhea is very common when first taking ginger. Once your body adapts to taking ginger that should not be an issue anymore. I was told by my herbalist that one of the reasons we get diarrhea at first is because the ginger is cleaning out your digestive system. Ginger is so very good for you https://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-health-benefits-ginger

      Don’t hold me to any of this as everyone’s body is different so you never know. I just wanted to give you encouragement for taking ginger for your health.

    1. Thanks for your question. I’m going to be writing a blog about this topic soon. You seem to have done some homework already based on the specifics of your question. Good job! Based on studies looking at safety and effectiveness, I think buying the PA-free butterbur root supplement seems safe. Of course, ask your doctor and specify the brand/type you are considering. Anecdotally, I have heard of people having success with butterbur. The obvious safety issues have limited wider recommendations from neurologists.
      I hope you find relief soon! – Danielle

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About the Author

Danielle Aberman RDN

My degree is in clinical nutrition and I’m a registered dietitian. I changed my career to focus only on helping people with migraine find relief and became a certified health and wellness coach to help me help my clients beyond just my expertise in food and nutrition. My fascination with diet, nutrition and migraine began when I made my condition worse by eating “clean and healthy.” This was mainly due to both rebound/medication-overuse headache and a diet high in beautiful, nutritious, wholesome food triggers. Implementing a comprehensive migraine elimination diet helped me dramatically. Continuing my research into diet, I transitioned to the Ketogenic diet which further improved my brain fog. My work with the Ketogenic diet for migraine relief has led me to working with one of the pioneers in reversing diabetes and obesity with Keto, Dr. Eric Westman. I love helping people take control of their wellness and get their lives back. For relaxation and enjoyment, I like to go on adventures with my family, spend time in the garden and cook for friends and family.

View all posts by Danielle Aberman RDN