Sunday, 29 November 2015

Ginkgo biloba and herbs to treat migraine

Ginkgo biloba as a treatment for migraine 

Ginkgo biloba (Photo: Public Domain)

Ginkgo biloba is a tree dating back to prehistoric times that is used today in herbal medicine with one of its uses being as a herb to prevent migraines. I use it for this purpose and can vouch for its effectiveness because I take it as a daily supplement and on occasions when I have run out of a supply for some weeks I have ended up getting migraine attacks again.

Ginkgo has been the subject of clinical studies to show whether or not it is of any use in treating migraine and the results are promising.

It is a very popular herbal remedy and is widely available from health stores and counters, as well as from suppliers of herbal supplements via the Internet. It is available as tablets, capsules and tinctures, sometimes combined with other herbs. 

Ginkgo biloba is used to help the circulation by thinning the blood but this means that it can also cause excess bleeding and caution should be observed if you are taking anticoagulant drugs such as warfarin. 

Ginkgo is thought to help preserve a good memory and cognitive function, although clinical studies do not support this. Nevertheless, it is thought to help to guard against Alzheimer's Disease and dementia. 

Ginkgo biloba is sometimes referred to as the Maidenhair Tree because its fan-shaped leaves are similar in shape but a lot bigger than the fronds of the Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum spp.). The Ginkgo is native to China but grown around the world today in parks and gardens. The Ginkgo can grow into a very large tree, attaining heights of 20-35 metres. 

Ginkgo leaves (Photo: Public Domain)

The Ginkgo is deciduous and its leaves turn a glorious golden yellow in autumn.

Hiroshima survivor

As a matter of interest, he Ginkgo biloba tree stands up well to all sorts of conditions including atomic warfare. Six trees in Hiroshima in Japan survived the 1945 bomb explosion. Although nearly everything else in the area these trees were in was killed, the Ginkgo trees, although badly charred, soon regenerated and are still growing today. 


Feverfew (Photo: Public Domain)

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is also known as the Midsummer Daisy, and as its name suggests it flowers around this time with plenty of white daisy-like flowers and aromatic ferny foliage. It is a pretty plant and often grown in gardens where it will self-seed and establish itself. 

Feverfew has gained a good reputation for being a herb that can be taken as a preventative against migraine attacks. One large leaf or three smaller ones taken per day is the dosage, although the leaves taste very bitter and you may wish to find some way of masking the flavour. 

The easier way of taking this herb is to buy it from a health store or herbal supplier.

Feverfew is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, and whilst it has been used in treating migraines it will only work in preventing them and needs to be taken on a regular basis for several weeks before it can be expected to work.  Feverfew cannot halt a migraine once an attack is happening.


Butterbur (Photo: Public Domain)

The Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) is a perennial herb that produces creeping rhizomes and spikes of pinkish flowers that are formed in early spring before the large rounded leaves that appear after flowering.  The Butterbur grows on riverbanks and along the edges of streams and is a fairly common plant in the UK and Europe. There are also a number of related species in the genus.

Butterbur has been used in herbal medicine as a treatment for migraine and is thought to have an effect on blood flow to the brain, as well as having anti-inflammatory properties. 

White Willow Bark

White Willow catkins (Photo: Public Domain)

The bark of the White Willow (Salix alba) has also been used in the treatment of migraine and for conventional headaches. This tree produces salicin in its bark which is a chemical substance very close to aspirin.  Like aspirin it has the proven ability to decrease pain and reduce inflammation. Willow bark has analgesic properties. 

Willow Bark has been a traditional herbal remedy for many other conditions besides migraines and headaches.  Willow bark should not be used by anyone who is allergic to aspirin, for obvious reasons.

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