migraineAs I just lost most of my day yesterday to one doozy of a menstrual migraine, I have migraines on my mind, so I figured I’d write about them today.

I actually can’t complain too much about my migraines. After researching and trying many study-proven natural remedies, I’ve managed to cut their frequency by at least half and lower their duration and intensity, too. Which is no small feat considering both my parents had migraines, so I’ve got quite the double-whammy of migraine genes just waiting to spring head-throbbers on me at any moment.

I’ve written about these natural remedies on my blog before–and you can see a round-up of 12 of my favorite migraine treatments here. But, I haven’t really dipped my toe into migraine research in awhile. So, I thought I’d take a peek to see if there was any new study out there that was worth mentioning. And, there is!

In a recent 12-week study, researchers gave one group of migraine sufferers 400 mg. of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and another group sodium valproate (Depakote), which is a prescription drug used to prevent migraines.

What they found: The riboflavin group experienced an equal reduction in the frequency of migraines (about 50%), an equal reduction in hours spent in migraine pain (roughly half) and an equal reduction in the severity of migraine pain as the prescription medication group–but without the negative side effects that come with the drug, including liver toxicity, weight gain, dizziness, gastrointestinal complaints and fatigue.

I’ve actually taken Depakote and was surprised by how effective it was at preventing migraines. It was like a vacation for my head. However, the side effects made it impossible to continue with: I gained over 60 pounds, I had to have constant blood tests to check if it was destroying my liver and it sapped all my energy all the time. It had to go.

By contrast, riboflavin has no known risks and doesn’t appear to interact negatively with medications, according to the National Institutes of Health.

This isn’t the first study to show that riboflavin has a strong anti-migraine effect. The researchers in this current study were inspired to compare riboflavin with Depakote because of past studies (such as this one and this one) that proved its power at thwarting migraine attacks. But, this is the first study to reveal that this B vitamin is just as effective as a prescription drug that’s known for its ability to block migraines.

So, how does riboflavin work? Researchers theorize that this nutrient helps play a role in maintaining proper function of mitochondria–the power plants inside cells–in the brain. This is key since malfunction of this part of the cell is believed to contribute to the onset of migraines.

Despite the fact that riboflavin appears to be safe, it’s always smart to talk to your healthcare provider and let her or him know you’d like to try this remedy before doing so. And, of course, never stop taking any prescription drug without telling your healthcare provider first. That’s especially true for Depakote, which may require reductions in doses to safely quit.