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Herbs and Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies are often used to treat headaches/migraines, tooth aches and nausea.

Herbs and Herbal Remedies

Many people turn to herbs and herbal remedies instead of prescription drugs to treat a variety of ailments. There are herbs believed to ease everything from toothache to nausea to indigestion. A headache is a common affliction that herbs are used to treat. According to the National Headache Foundation, more than 45 million Americans suffer from severe headaches, and 28 million Americans suffer from migraines. With headaches being so common, effective herbal remedies can greatly reduce the amount of pharmaceuticals used in the United States. While a large number of herbs have headache-healing properties, there are several that stand out from the rest.

Feverfew

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, feverfew is used to treat many ailments, including fevers, insect bites and stomachaches. While a number of herbs are touted as headache relievers, feverfew is among the most popular, offering relief to as many as two-thirds of those who try it. The active ingredients in this bush are compounds called parthenolides, which are believed to reduce the amount of serotonin released by platelets. Since serotonin may be a key cause of migraine headaches, slowing down the release of this chemical in the brain is beneficial for headache sufferers. In fact, while findings are not yet unanimous, several research studies have shown feverfew to be effective in preventing migraines.

Although the most effective part of feverfew is its leaves, the bush's stem and white flowers that resemble daisies may also be used in the composition of feverfew supplements. To get the most benefit from feverfew, headache sufferers should eat up to four of the bush's fresh, raw leaves per day. However, those who choose to do so should be aware that approximately 10 to 18 percent of people may develop inflammation of the mouth or mouth sores from the fresh leaves not to mention the unpleasant bitter taste. To reap the benefits of the leaves without suffering consequences, people can use two to eight leaves to brew tea instead. It is important not to allow the tea to boil, though, as this can break down the parthenolides and render them ineffective. An easier way to take feverfew is to purchase feverfew capsules, available at most health food stores, and follow package dosage suggestions. While extremely beneficial to some, it is crucial to note that pregnant women should never take feverfew. Like several other herbs, feverfew can increase the risk of miscarriage.

To increase the potency of feverfew, sufferers can take it in combination with another herbal remedy rich in parthenolides: bay. However, it is advisable to speak with an herbalist before doing so, as there is no established recommended dosage for bay.

Ginkgo

Commonly known by its Latin name, Ginkgo biloba, extracts from the ginkgo tree have both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties that improve blood flow in the brain. This may reduce both common headaches and migraine attacks. The recommended dosage of ginkgo is three 40-milligram capsules per day. Exceeding this dosage may cause irritability and diarrhea.

Aspirin-like Herbs

A common reaction to the onset of a headache is to reach for an aspirin. But there are some natural alternatives to aspirin, such as willow and cayenne. These herbs both contain a chemical similar to acetylsalicylic acid found in aspirin, called salicylates. Drinking three cups of tea brewed from powdered willow bark is a great way to combat a headache. One-quarter to 1/2 of a teaspoon of bark brewed in 1 cup of hot water for roughly 15 minutes should do the trick. For those who do not enjoy a cup of tea, taking as many as six 400-milligram capsules of willow is also effective.

Cayenne is another natural source of salicylates. However, there is currently no established recommended dosage for cayenne. One may either follow suggestions on supplement packages or speak with an experienced herbalist.

Because of their similarity to the chemical composition of aspirin, willow and cayenne may cause side effects. Even though it has not been proven, those who are allergic to aspirin may also experience an allergy to these herbs.

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