Riboflavin for Migraines

B vitamins have been recommended by doctors and medical professionals for years to help with all sorts of stuff like… low energy, memory problems, neuropathy, and cardiovascular disease. Just about every store that sells vitamins and just about every company that makes vitamins has a line of B vitamins to choose from. In all, there are 8 different B vitamins and one of them, riboflavin (B2), has been shown to be helpful with migraines. 


A quick Google search for ‘natural migraine remedies’ and you’ll quickly be overwhelmed with all kinds of ideas. Some of them have at least a little bit of clinical research to support them and some of them… well, they seem like somebody’s playing a joke on you. For instance, soaking your feet in a mixture of warm water and mustard powder is touted a migraine remedy. Water and mustard powder are definitely natural, but how they help with migraines is anybody’s guess. 


What’s so special about Riboflavin (B2)?


The connection between riboflavin (B2) and migraines comes from a study that was done in 1998 at the University of Liege in Belgium and published in the medical journal Neurology. The study suspected that migraines are related to a problem our cell’s ability to produce energy, specifically in the mitochondria (the part of the cell that makes ‘ATP’, the molecule need for energy). The researchers found 55 people with recurring migraines to volunteer for the study and they gave some of them 400 mg of riboflavin a day and some of them got a placebo pill (fake pill) they also took daily. The study lasted for 3 months. 


After 3 months they found that the group taking 400 mg of riboflavin (B2) got less migraines! In fact, about 59% of the people who were taking the real B2 supplement reported 50% less migraines whereas only 15% of the people taking the fake supplement had 50% less migraines. So, by no means is riboflavin a migraine cure, but it’s certainly worth trying, especially since it’s so safe and there’s very little risk of side-effects. 


In case you’re wondering… the normal recommended daily dose of riboflavin (B2) for most adults is about 1.5 mg a day, so the 400 mg a day used in the study is a lot, but the body can handle a lot of the risk of side effects is very low. The most common side effects of taking too much riboflavin are diarrhea and increased urination. Riboflavin (B2) and the other B vitamins are found in several different types of food, but it’s not realistic to get 400 mg a day from food alone… you’ll need a supplement to get that much. 


The key to reducing migraines includes B2 and … 


When it comes to migraines the most effective approach seems to be the one that involves… well, three approaches actually. Diet, lifestyle, and improved nervous system function. Since migraines are genetic and aren’t completely understood there aren’t any sure-fire cures. Changing your diet (mostly eliminating certain foods) and modifying your lifestyle (getting more consistent sleep for instance) are where most people focus their efforts, but improving your nervous system function can be a game-changer for most migraine sufferers.