Turmeric Benefits for Migraine

Headaches are part of our fast moving life today. Some are minor but others such as Migraine are severe and badly disturb our lives. According to stats 6 mn Americans suffer from migraine and in every 10 seconds there is one person going into emergency room because of migraine. Migraine is more common in women than in men.

Let us understand about migraine a bit. 


Migraine is a severe vascular headache experienced by millions all over the world. Women are three times more susceptible to migraines than men. People between the ages of 15 – 55 are more prone to migraines, with over 70% having a family history of the condition (indicating that it is an inherited disease).

There are various factors that can cause a migraine to occur like erratic eating patterns, certain medications used to dilate blood vessels, alteration in sleep patterns, sunlight, excessive exposure to fluorescent or bright lights, excessive TV viewing or noise, stress, depression, certain foods, daily use of headache medications and more.

About 1/5th of migraine sufferers get a prior warning of an attack like visual disturbances, tingling of the face or arm etc. Migraines usually affect one side of the head. It is often characterized by nausea or vomiting, throbbing pulse, intense pain, sensitivity to sound or light etc. The attacks can last from 4-72 hours and even longer in severe cases.

Turmeric for Migraine

Doctors usually diagnose a migraine based on symptoms and history. There are many conventional medications that are used to treat migraines. When I started searching if turmeric can help in migraine, I realized that there is not much research on the benefits of turmeric to treat a migraine. turmeric for migraine

Curcumin, the chemical compound in turmeric, is a potent antioxidant and has been used in Chinese and Indian medicine for centuries to treat anti-inflammatory conditions. Studies have shown that the antioxidant properties of curcumin are able to reduce COX-2 – an inflammatory enzyme. This has benefited the treatment of several inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. 

There are many nutritional remedies that can benefit migraines. Many doctors may prefer to use them, for when used for long periods, they cause fewer or no side effects, user dependency or rebound headaches like some over-the-counter or prescription medications. Since most migraines affect the right or left side, some studies have been conducted on which nutritional supplements will benefit which type of migraine. For example, calcium, cat’s claw or iron may benefit those with left-side migraines and magnesium, turmeric or zinc may benefit those with right-side migraines.

Usually, migraine sufferers may need to use a trial and error method to determine which supplement benefits them. ½ teaspoon or more of turmeric powder is said to help those with a left-side migraine. One reason a person may contract a migraine is due to a viral infection. In this case, using vitamin supplements like A and C will help both the headache and viral infection. However, sometimes the headache may worsen and this is where turmeric helps for it has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect that when combined with the vitamins can treat both the migraine and viral infection. 

Depending on the type of migraine, different herbal remedies can ease the symptoms – e.g. chamomile tea, cinnamon in hot milk or tea can ease tension caused due to a migraine, give better sleep and ease a migraine. Similarly, those with a viral infection can inhale the steam of hot water and turmeric. This can relieve blocked noses and ease symptoms of migraine. 

Another benefit of turmeric for headaches / migraine is that it is a natural pain reliever. Thus, rather than taking other painkillers which have severe side effects, if possible taking turmeric may be better. One limitation may be that turmeric may not provide relief as fast as other painkillers do. 

Usually anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin and NSAIDs are prescribed for a migraine. Laboratory studies and clinical research have found that turmeric and the phenolics compounds in it have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. This is similar to steroid medications like indomethacin. Hence, it has been suggested that turmeric could be used as a supportive treatment for a migraine. 


Turmeric is available as capsules, tablets, liquid extract or tincture. It is sometimes combined with bromelain to improve its anti-inflammatory effects and absorption levels. The dosage of turmeric supplements depends on the medical condition. The recommended daily dosage of standardized curcumin powder is 400-600mg thrice daily. Please note this dose is not specific to migraine. 


Turmeric consumed within the recommended dosage does not cause any side effects. Long term and high doses can cause nausea, dizziness, diarrhea or indigestion. Those with gall bladder problems must consult their doctor for turmeric could worsen the condition. Those who need to undergo surgery must avoid turmeric for it could slow blood clotting. Turmeric supplements could stimulate the uterus or cause menstrual bleeding. Hence, pregnant and breastfeeding women must avoid it. Check with your doctor before taking turmeric supplements for it could interact with certain drugs. 


  1. Sadly turmeric does absolutely nothing for my migraines. If anything, it makes them worse. Finally gave up on trying it and went back to aspirin which, if I take in large enough doses, does dull the pain. Turmeric is great for other health problems I have used it for, but a dud for migraines for me.

  2. hi, it is not Turmeric that is efficient when migraines occur, but a concentration of its active principle , curcumin. You should use a concentrated Curcumin SOLVENT-free, NANO-free and ADDITIVES-free EXTRACT providing at minima 300 mg curcumin each capsule. Be aware that most of capsules in the USA do contain chemical additives and harmful solvents residues. If you want a solvent-free extract and nano-free extract, please let’s check it is written as a guarantee on the labels … with no additive inside the capsules ( as silica dioxid that is a harmful additive for brain or Titanium oxid that is also a poison for brain ) … unfortunately , nobody is aware of such additives harmful effects. Moreover, most people believe that just using turmeric powder could have any effect when we should know that 20 g dry turmeric are required ( 200 g fresh) to get 600 mg of active curcumin.

  3. I just added turmeric to a chicken recipe. In the three days since, I’ve had three ocular migraines in two days. I am having one right now. I rarely if ever get these.

    I’m thinking it may actually be the turmeric.

    1. Hi, it is quite unlikely that turmeric can cause migraines; especially dietary turmeric. Hope you are using good quality organic turmeric. Discontinue the usage and see if the migraines stop.

    2. Hey, that happened to me too. I just started taking turmeric to support treatment for chronic migraines. I rarely get ocular migraines so it stuck out.

    3. It might be that you are intollerant of turmeric and the headaches are your symptom that you can’t have it. I can’t have turmeric at all. For me my symptom is that I break out badly with it. To find out you can either do a trial with it several times or just find a good natropath and get tested for intollerances. I went to a natropath and found out mine (I can’t have dairy or turmeric and can’t do a combo of fruit and processed sugar in the same day). Avoiding them has made a HUGE difference for me in how I feel.

    4. It could be the chicken. I’ve noticed that I’m not able to tolerate chicken (even free range) anymore. Google it and you’ll find many people are sensitive to chicken.

  4. I have been diagnosed with cluster headache. I had always thought it was migraine as it had the just about the same symptoms. I am at the point of over dosing on aspirins and panadols as triptan and other forms of pills don’t seem to help. A friend told me about turmeric and am willing to try just about anything! The pain is on the right side of the head. Which one should I try though? Help!

    1. I have cluster headaches…usually at the base of my skull or on the right side. Today, the doctor I work for told me to try turmeric in hot water. He is from India. I mixed about 1/2 tsp in 8 ounces of water heated in the coffee maker. At his suggestion, I added about 1 tsp of honey. MUCH to my surprise, my headache was gone within 30 mins of drinking the mixture.
      The honey did help with the taste and you really have to get past the orange/mustard color–but it’s all natural and worked quicker than any RX I’ve tried lately.

    2. I use ginger, not turmeric, and it helps a lot. I now take it daily. I’ve thought about using turmeric but after reading these comments about it causing headaches, I think I’ll pass.

  5. I have had Migrains for some 12 years, from fairly light to increasing over the years to stretches of 4/6 days at a time, the only releif was IMIGRAN to relieve it..and it did but the only problem was my GP would only give me 6 tablets a month..no where near enough. from an article in the daily paper I saw Turmeric ..Arthritis and Migrain. I had to give it a go. it turned out amazing as I was told my Migrains were attributed to my arthritis and straight away my first usage in mid march my Migraines and my Arthritis have gone..now in July and still pain free. M y recipe is 1 mug of full fat milk into a pan and start to heat up and stir in 1 level teaspoon of Turmeric, an eigth of a teaspoon of Black Pepper and 1 teaspoon of runny honey ( for taste). That I drink straight after my breakfast. (it has to be with the meal so as the fats can be absorbed). You can add more of the Turmeric and Black pepper as you see fit, just think of your tummy, if you have Acid Reflux and taking Lanzoprozole or similar, you would need to stop the medication or vice versa.
    Hope it works for you as it has done for me…drink well !!!

  6. Left side , right side? All I know is my head has been pounding for a week. Nothing helps. Do I have just a headache? Or a migraine? Never heard of left or right.

    1. migraine is almost always on only one side of your head. mine almost always on the right side by about 9/10 times. a headache not isolated to one side is some other kind of headache. but as long as a week— see a doc.

  7. How quickly does the Curcumin begin to work on a migraine, a couple of hours, etc? Just purchased the extra strength version! Thank you!

    1. The time of action depends on person to person as well as dose. Some do see benefits as early as few hours while for some it takes a day.

  8. You stated that “magnesium, turmeric or zinc may benefit those with right-side migraines.” and then in the next paragraph “½ teaspoon or more of turmeric powder is said to help those with a left-side migraine”. So does curcumin help the right or left side type of migraines? Also, can you tell me your source? Thanks.

    1. you cannot ingest enough magnesium to help with migraines, according to my neurologists, but take it by IV in the hospital and it helps, or at least it did help me along with DHE. don’t try to take mag in capsules as a migraine treatment, you have to take so many it will cause a ton of internal problems.

  9. 3 day of a migrain with little help from the usual sorces, Purchased Solgar Full Spectrum Curcumin 185x absorbable will see if it has any effect.

    1. Bruce, did you have any luck with with the Curcumin 185x for your migraines? I’m been waking up with migraine headaches every other day.

  10. Thank you for your informative article, it was very helpful. I am looking forward to using turmeric on myself and my husband. Thanks.

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