Painkillers are some of the most prescribed medications in the US, despite their increased potential for addiction, which is defined as a psychological compulsion and physical dependence. Prolonged use of prescription pain relievers for the treatment of migraines, for instance, can result in developing a physical dependence on the medication, marked by withdrawal symptoms and tolerance, while the psychological compulsion causes the patient to use them in spite of the repercussions.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the statistics for prescription painkiller abuse are very alarming, with an estimated 4.7 million people dependent on pain relievers in the US alone. The sale of these drugs in the US has increased by more than 300% since 1999 and up to 7% of patients who take prescription opioid painkillers will suffer from an opioid use disorder. Commonly addictive pain relievers include hydrocodone, methadone, oxycodone, morphine, fentanyl, codeine, meperidine (Demerol), Dilaudid ( known as hospital-grade heroin) and Darvocet (now banned by the FDA).
People suffering from severe headaches and migraines, including teenagers are often prescribed potent painkillers to mitigate their debilitating pain and improve quality of life, but there's a thin line between use and abuse when it comes to this class of drugs and these patients often find themselves taking their painkillers more frequently than prescribed by the clinician. Jason is one of these patients who was first prescribed hydrocodone for his migraines when he was only 16 years old. He says that the medication took care of the migraines but soon Jason began taking the pills even when he didn't have a migraine, just because he enjoyed that euphoric feel. Jason eventually ended up taking 45 prescription pain relieving pills a day, which included mostly hydrocodone pills but also diazepam and alprazolam.
The use of prescription pain relievers has become increasingly complicated due not only to their high potential for misuse, abuse, and overdose but also to the vast spectrum of side effects associated with the prolonged use of these medications (i.e. gastrointestinal problems, fatigue, weight change) as well as serious health risks including cardiovascular, kidney and liver disorders and even rebound migraines from painkiller overuse. For instance, medications like triptans can pose significant cardiovascular risks, while Fioricet ( banned in Europe) can cause seizures among other withdrawal symptoms.
The safe alternatives to prescription painkillers for migraine sufferers include lifestyle changes and adjustments, such as adopting a healthier, more balanced diet, exercising regularly and making sure they get a good night's sleep in order to minimize the risk of migraines, as well as undergoing acupuncture treatment, biofeedback therapy and taking various dietary supplements based on natural ingredients with proven migraine-fighting properties. There are several ingredients ( naturally occurring substances, herbs, essential micronutrients) that have been scientifically and clinically proven to alleviate the symptoms associated with severe headaches and migraines and significantly reduce both their intensity and frequency.
Clinical findings suggest that people who suffer regularly from migraines have both magnesium and melatonin deficiencies. Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a key role in numerous physiologic processes and it's naturally found in leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, cocoa, spices, bananas, tea, and coffee. Several clinical studies have found that supplementation with magnesium can reduce migraine frequency and severity as well as photophobia by stabilizing blood vessels and improving abnormal neuronal firing patterns.
Melatonin is a substance naturally produced by the pineal gland that can help people prone to suffering from migraines by promoting sleep and improving quality of sleep. In addition, melatonin has strong anti-inflammatory effects similar to those of the NSAID drug indomethacin, but minus its side-effects. According to a recent study, a daily dose of 3 mg of melatonin proved to be effective in diminishing migraine frequency, with 75% of participants experiencing minimum 50% fewer migraine attacks. Coenzyme Q10, an enzyme naturally found in the human body is another ingredient with proven benefits against migraines. According to a clinical trial, 61% of the participants who received a CoQ10 supplement experienced a reduction of more than 50% in the number of days with migraines.
When looking for a natural supplement for migraine relief, it's important to select a product that is based exclusively on natural ingredients and is thus free from additives, fillers, and other chemical ingredients that not only increase its cost but also give a range of unwanted side effects.