Are there really “Best Medications for Migraines?”

medications for migraines

Before reading further, please understand that pharmaceutical medications are never the answer for long-term migraine treatment.  In fact, they frequently do more harm than good for your migraines.

In this article, I will review the top three acute and preventive medications for migraines, along with their side effects.  I will also provide you with some alternative options that have been used by my patients, as well as many others around the world, with success.

Most Common Medications for Migraines

First, there are between 70 to 100 different drugs used for migraine treatment, including:

  • Pain relievers
    • Triptans
    • Ergots
    • Anti-nausea
    • Opioid
    • Anti-inflammatory
    • Steroidal
  • Preventive drugs
    • Antidepressants
    • Cardiovascular
    • Anti-epileptic
    • Botox

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The top three prescribed medications that supposedly stop acute migraines are:

  1. Imitrex (sumatriptan)
  2. Maxalt (rizatriptan)
  3. Zomig (zolmitriptan)

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The top three prescribed medications that supposedly prevent migraines are:

  1. Topamax (topiramate)
  2. Pamelor (amitriptyline)
  3. Inderal (propranolol)

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These are just a few of the most popular drugs used to treat migraines.  For more information on additional medications, see the sources list below.

Side Effects of Migraine Medications

Now that we have identified the three most common medications to treat acute migraines, as well as the top three preventive drugs for migraines, let’s have a quick look at their general side effects.

Imitrex (sumatriptan) side effects:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Chest pressure, tightness or pain
  • Weakness
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Dizziness and drowsiness

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Maxalt (rizatriptan) side effects:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness and drowsiness
  • Flushing
  • Weakness
  • Exhaustion
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, and back

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Zomig (zolmitriptan) side effects:

  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Warmth or redness in the area (especially with nasal sprays)
  • Pain in the jaw, neck, or back
  • Numbness, tingling, or blueness to the fingers or toes
  • Stomach pain
  • Weakness
  • Drowsiness
  • Raised blood pressure

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Topamax (topiramate) side effects:

  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness or dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Nervousness
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Confusion
  • Sensory distortion
  • Cold symptoms
  • Slowed thinking
  • Bad taste in the mouth

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Pamelor (amitriptyline) side effects:

  • Elevated heart rate
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurry vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness on standing
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Poor coordination

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Inderal (propranolol) side effects:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Rash
  • Stomach pain
  • Insomnia or other sleep problems
  • Decreased sec drive
  • Blurry vision

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So, those look fun, right?

Not really, especially the ones with headache listed as a side effect.  This is why alternative or complementary medicine is an absolute must for migraineurs.  Let’s have a look at a few options that will help treat the origin of the migraine.

Alternative Treatments for Migraines

There are several alternative options for migraine treatments, including, but not limited to:

  • Manipulative therapies, including:
    • Chiropractic
    • Osteopathy
    • Reflexology
    • Bowen technique
    • Physiotherapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Physical therapies, including:
    • Biofeedback
    • Relaxation techniques
    • Massage
  • Herbal supplements, especially with vitamins and minerals, including:
    • Fevefew
    • Butterbur
    • CoEnzyme 10
    • Vitamin B2
    • Magnesium
  • Homeopathy, including:
    • Belladonna
    • Glonoine
    • Natrum Mur
    • Sanguinaria
    • Spigelia-Best

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Before using any homeopathic remedies, it is advised to first speak with a specialist to determine the best treatment and dosage of the tinctures, powder, or pill.  Furthermore, it will take some experimentation to determine what works best for you, since your migraines are as unique as your DNA.  It would be worthwhile to find a specialist to help you on this journey.

Remember that pharmaceutical drugs will only make you worse, rather than better, especially after reviewing the general side effects of just a few of the most common migraine drugs.  Therefore, it is imperative that you find an alternative measure that focuses on the origin of the migraine, rather than the symptoms.  Options will vary and will require some experimentation, so it may be worthwhile to consider contacting a functional medicine physician or homeopath to help you through the process.

Sources:

  1. http://www.webmd.com/drugs/condition-1116-migraine.aspx?names-dropdown
  2. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-headache/diagnosis-treatment/treatment/txc-20202474
  3. http://www.migraine.org.uk/information/treatments-and-therapies/complementary-treatments/

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photo credit: weiss_paarz_photos Prescription Drugs – Prescription Bottle – Pills via photopin (license)

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