Migraine defense

Hi All,

I came across this site but have not had a chance to really dig. There are some interesting articles written here but the red flags are up I think. Be interested to know what others think:


S :slight_smile:

Scott, I found nothing convincing when I looked up the ingredients at the info site run by US NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine:

Borage Oil Powder

Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is an omega-6 fatty acid found in the oils of some plant seeds, including evening primrose (Oenothera biennis), borage (Borago officinalis), and black currant (Ribes nigrum). In the body, GLA can be converted into substances that reduce inflammation.

* There is some preliminary evidence that GLA may be beneficial for [rheumatoid arthritis]RA; however, some studies of GLA's effects have had quality issues. The more rigorous studies suggest that GLA may relieve symptoms such as joint pain, stiffness, and tenderness; in some cases, GLA led to a decreased need for NSAIDs medication. More high-quality research—looking particularly at dose and duration of treatment—is needed before making recommendations on the use of GLA for RA.
* GLA appears to be safe for most adults. However, some borage oil preparations contain chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids that can harm the liver.
# Black Cohosh

What the Science Says

    * Study results are mixed on whether black cohosh effectively relieves menopausal symptoms. An NCCAM-funded study found that black cohosh, whether used alone or with other botanicals, failed to relieve hot flashes and night sweats in postmenopausal women or those approaching menopause.
    * Most studies to date have been less than 6 months long, so the safety of long-term use is unknown.
    * NCCAM is funding studies to further understand the potential effects of black cohosh on hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.
    * There are not enough reliable data to determine whether black cohosh is effective for rheumatism or other uses.

Side Effects and Cautions

    * United States Pharmacopeia experts suggest women should discontinue use of black cohosh and consult a health care practitioner if they have a liver disorder or develop symptoms of liver trouble, such as abdominal pain, dark urine, or jaundice. There have been several case reports of hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), as well as liver failure, in women who were taking black cohosh. It is not known if black cohosh was responsible for these problems. Although these cases are very rare and the evidence is not definitive, scientists are concerned about the possible effects of black cohosh on the liver.
    * Black cohosh can cause headaches and stomach discomfort. In clinical trials comparing the effects of the herb and those of estrogens, a low number of side effects were reported, such as headaches, gastric complaints, heaviness in the legs, and weight problems.
    * No interactions have been reported between black cohosh and prescription medicines.
    * It is not clear if black cohosh is safe for women who have had breast cancer or for pregnant women.
    * Black cohosh should not be confused with blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), which has different properties, treatment uses, and side effects than black cohosh. Black cohosh is sometimes used with blue cohosh to stimulate labor, but this therapy has caused adverse effects in newborns, which appear to be due to blue cohosh.

Dong Quai Extract

Cramp Bark

Wild Yam Extract

Vit B-6

Only “yam” entry, from summary of a conference on hot flashes; includes dong quai and black cohosh:
There are many treatment options available to manage hot flashes, including vitamin E, evening primrose oil, soy isoflavones, dong quai, red clover, black cohosh, ginseng, yam cream, Chinese medicinal herbs, naloxone, propranolol, progestins, androgens, tibolone, alpha-adrenergic agonists, anti-dopaminergic agents, bellergal, SSRIs, SERMS, gabapentin, and others. Current research suggests that many purported treatments do not work well, if at all, and safety has not been demonstrated for all treatments. Other therapies work well but are not as efficacious as estrogen. Still others might work very well, but studies are needed to evaluate them. Successful efforts to target the development of new interventions depend on better understanding of the pathophysiology of hot flashes, which we currently lack. 

# Vitex Agnus  monks in the Middle Ages used chasteberry to decrease sexual desire.

Common Names—chasteberry, chaste-tree berry, vitex, monk's pepper

Latin Name—Vitex agnus-castus

What the Science Says

    * A few studies of chasteberry for premenstrual syndrome have found a benefit. However, most of these studies were not well designed, so firm conclusions about chasteberry for premenstrual syndrome cannot be drawn.
    * Small studies suggest that chasteberry may help with breast pain and some types of infertility, but there is not enough reliable scientific evidence to determine whether chasteberry has any effect on these conditions.
    * NCCAM is funding studies on chasteberry. Recent projects have explored how chasteberry works in the body and how it might affect symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.

Side Effects and Cautions

    * Chasteberry has not been associated with serious side effects. However, it can cause gastrointestinal problems, acne-like rashes, and dizziness.
    * Chasteberry may affect certain hormone levels. Women who are pregnant or taking birth control pills or who have a hormone-sensitive condition (such as breast cancer) should not use chasteberry.
    * Because chasteberry may affect the dopamine system in the brain, people taking dopamine-related medications, such as selegiline, amantadine, and levodopa, should avoid using chasteberry.

Folic Acid

Medications that interfere with folate utilization include:

* anticonvulsant medications (such as dilantin, phenytoin and primidone)
* metformin (sometimes prescribed to control blood sugar in type 2 diabetes)
* sulfasalazine (used to control inflammation associated with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis)
* triamterene (a diuretic)
* methotrexate (used for cancer and other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis)
* barbiturates (used as sedatives)

Who else may need extra folic acid to prevent a deficiency?
People who abuse alcohol, those taking medications that may interfere with the action of folate (including, but not limited to those listed above), individuals diagnosed with anemia from folate deficiency, and those with malabsorption, liver disease, or who are receiving kidney dialysis treatment may benefit from a folic acid supplement.

Folate deficiency has been observed in alcoholics. A 1997 review of the nutritional status of chronic alcoholics found low folate status in more than 50% of those surveyed [25]. Alcohol interferes with the absorption of folate and increases the amount of folate the kidney gets rid of. In addition, many people who abuse alcohol have poor quality diets that do not provide the recommended intake of folate [17]. Increasing folate intake through diet, or folic acid intake through fortified foods or supplements, may be beneficial to the health of alcoholics.

Anti-convulsant medications such as dilantin increase the need for folate [26-27]. Anyone taking anti-convulsants and other medications that interfere with the body’s ability to use folate should consult with a medical doctor about the need to take a folic acid supplement [28-30].

Anemia is a condition that occurs when there is insufficient hemoglobin in red blood cells to carry enough oxygen to cells and tissues. It can result from a wide variety of medical problems, including folate deficiency. With folate deficiency, your body may make large red blood cells that do not contain adequate hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen to your body’s cells [4]. Your physician can determine whether an anemia is associated with folate deficiency and whether supplemental folic acid is indicated.

Several medical conditions increase the risk of folic acid deficiency. Liver disease and kidney dialysis increase the loss of folic acid. Malabsorption can prevent your body from using folate in food. Medical doctors treating individuals with these disorders will evaluate the need for a folic acid supplement [1].

What are some current issues and controversies about folate?
Folic Acid and Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease involves any disorder of the heart and blood vessels that make up the cardiovascular system. Coronary heart disease occurs when blood vessels which supply the heart become clogged or blocked, increasing the risk of a heart attack. Vascular damage can also occur to blood vessels supplying the brain, and can result in a stroke.

Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death in industrialized countries such as the US, and is on the rise in developing countries. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health has identified many risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including an elevated LDL-cholesterol level, high blood pressure, a low HDL-cholesterol level, obesity, and diabetes [31]. In recent years, researchers have identified another risk factor for cardiovascular disease, an elevated homocysteine level. Homocysteine is an amino acid normally found in blood, but elevated levels have been linked with coronary heart disease and stroke [32-44]. Elevated homocysteine levels may impair endothelial vasomotor function, which determines how easily blood flows through blood vessels [45]. High levels of homocysteine also may damage coronary arteries and make it easier for blood clotting cells called platelets to clump together and form a clot, which may lead to a heart attack [38].

A deficiency of folate, vitamin B12 or vitamin B6 may increase blood levels of homocysteine, and folate supplementation has been shown to decrease homocysteine levels and to improve endothelial function [46-48]. At least one study has linked low dietary folate intake with an increased risk of coronary events [49]. The folic acid fortification program in the U. S. has decreased the prevalence of low levels of folate and high levels of homocysteine in the blood in middle-aged and older adults [50]. Daily consumption of folic-acid fortified breakfast cereal and the use of folic acid supplements has been shown to be an effective strategy for reducing homocysteine concentrations [51].

Evidence supports a role for supplemental folic acid for lowering homocysteine levels, however this does not mean that folic acid supplements will decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. Clinical intervention trials are underway to determine whether supplementation with folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6 can lower risk of coronary heart disease. It is premature to recommend folic acid supplementation for the prevention of heart disease until results of ongoing randomized, controlled clinical trials positively link increased folic acid intake with decreased homocysteine levels AND decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Folic Acid and Cancer
Some evidence associates low blood levels of folate with a greater risk of cancer [52]. Folate is involved in the synthesis, repair, and function of DNA, our genetic map, and there is some evidence that a deficiency of folate can cause damage to DNA that may lead to cancer [52]. Several studies have associated diets low in folate with increased risk of breast, pancreatic, and colon cancer [53-54]. Over 88,000 women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study who were free of cancer in 1980 were followed from 1980 through 1994. Researchers found that women ages 55 to 69 years in this study who took multivitamins containing folic acid for more than 15 years had a markedly lower risk of developing colon cancer [54]. Findings from over 14,000 subjects followed for 20 years suggest that men who do not consume alcohol and whose diets provide the recommended intake of folate are less likely to develop colon cancer [55]. However, associations between diet and disease do not indicate a direct cause. Researchers are continuing to investigate whether enhanced folate intake from foods or folic acid supplements may reduce the risk of cancer. Until results from such clinical trials are available, folic acid supplements should not be recommended to reduce the risk of cancer.

Folic Acid and Methotrexate for Cancer
Folate is important for cells and tissues that rapidly divide [2]. Cancer cells divide rapidly, and drugs that interfere with folate metabolism are used to treat cancer. Methotrexate is a drug often used to treat cancer because it limits the activity of enzymes that need folate.

Unfortunately, methotrexate can be toxic, producing side effects such as inflammation in the digestive tract that may make it difficult to eat normally [56-58]. Leucovorin is a form of folate that can help “rescue” or reverse the toxic effects of methotrexate [59]. There are many studies underway to determine if folic acid supplements can help control the side effects of methotrexate without decreasing its effectiveness in chemotherapy [60-61]. It is important for anyone receiving methotrexate to follow a medical doctor’s advice on the use of folic acid supplements.

Folic Acid and Methotrexate for Non-Cancerous Diseases
Low dose methotrexate is used to treat a wide variety of non-cancerous diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, asthma, sarcoidosis, primary biliary cirrhosis, and inflammatory bowel disease [62]. Low doses of methotrexate can deplete folate stores and cause side effects that are similar to folate deficiency. Both high folate diets and supplemental folic acid may help reduce the toxic side effects of low dose methotrexate without decreasing its effectiveness [63-64]. Anyone taking low dose methotrexate for the health problems listed above should consult with a physician about the need for a folic acid supplement.

Caution About Folic Acid Supplements
Beware of the interaction between vitamin B12 and folic acid
Intake of supplemental folic acid should not exceed 1,000 micrograms (ÎĽg) per day to prevent folic acid from triggering symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency [10]. Folic acid supplements can correct the anemia associated with vitamin B12 deficiency. Unfortunately, folic acid will not correct changes in the nervous system that result from vitamin B12 deficiency. Permanent nerve damage can occur if vitamin B12 deficiency is not treated.

It is very important for older adults to be aware of the relationship between folic acid and vitamin B12 because they are at greater risk of having a vitamin B12 deficiency. If you are 50 years of age or older, ask your physician to check your B12 status before you take a supplement that contains folic acid. If you are taking a supplement containing folic acid, read the label to make sure it also contains B12 or speak with a physician about the need for a B12 supplement.