5 Benefits Of Turmeric In Migraine [UPDATED]

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.

Migraine is a moderate to severe headache which affects one side of the head. The migraine pain occurs suddenly and has a throbbing or pounding sensation. The pain may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

Before an event of migraine, people often experience flashing lights, blurs or momentary loss of vision. Migraine also causes an increased sensitivity to light and sound.

Some people suffer with occasional migraines while others may suffer for a several days at a time every month. The pain may last from hours to days, if not treated.

This disease has a greatly affects daily routine. The sufferer may find it difficult to get through chores and other works.

The cause of migraine is not very clear. It is thought to be a result of an impaired sensory system in the nervous system. Also, narrowing of the blood vessels in brain is thought to be a cause of this disease.

There are many factors that trigger migraine. Stress and depression are the most common ones. The other factors include hormonal changes (in women), anxiety, irregular sleeping or eating, certain food products and food additives.

The genetic reasons may also be behind migraine.

Women are much more prone to migraine than men. The hormonal changes make the young women to be at greater risk of getting migraine.

The treatment of migraine pain is particularly done through pain-killers. The medications like paracetamol or NSAIDs (such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen etc) are most commonly used.

Dietary changes, exercise and psychological therapy are also opted as a treatment method. Also, modifying various risk factors can be useful in prevention of migraine occurrence.

The use of medication for migraine may itself lead to chronic headaches. The other side effects like gastrointestinal problems etc may also be observed.

Since the side-effects of migraine medication are many and can be severe, the alternative natural treatment for this disease is sought after.

Turmeric is such an alternative natural product which can be exploited for the treatment of migraine.

What is turmeric?

Turmeric and turmeric powderTurmeric is a rhizomatous stem of the plant Curcuma longa which belongs to the family Zingiberaceae. It is popular old world spice used for its colour and flavour in various cuisines.

Turmeric has also been used in traditional medicines. It has been a valuable substance used for pain-relief and wound healing.

It is known for various biological properties such as, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, analgesic and immune-modulatory.

These properties are imparted to turmeric by the virtue of the presence of several compounds. These compounds include curcuminoids, Vitamins (B&C), Potassium, Iron, Sodium, proteins, volatile oils, α-linolenic acid and so on.

5 Benefits of Turmeric for Migraine

There are not enough studies done on the efficacy of turmeric in the treatment of migraine. However, the diversity of the biological properties can be explored to find the use of turmeric in this disease.

The pain-relieving effect of turmeric can be beneficial against the migraine pain. Its other activities can contribute to lower the risk factors that cause migraine.

1.Turmeric can relieve migraine pain

Pain is the attribute of migraine. The unbearable headache to the one side is significant and causes a high inconvenience to the patients.

The migraine pain is a result of disturbance in the cortical sensory modulation system, i.e. the coordination between various signalling mechanisms is impaired.

The role of inflammation in the sensory neurons is central to the migraine pain. The release of certain neuropeptides causes activation of nociceptive sensory nerves that eventually leads to the pain.

Turmeric is known for its pain-relieving action since a long time. Studies have confirmed this activity.
Turmeric is known to decrease sensitivity to the pain stimuli, thus relieving the pain.

The essential oils of turmeric have been found to exert anti-nociceptive (pain relieving) effect. Their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action act against the inflammation that leads to pain stimuli production.

A curcuminoid known as isolated from turmeric also has a pain-killing effect. It modulates a protein called TRPV1 (involved in pain stimuli) to reduce the pain and thus acts as an analgesic.

As there is a number of turmeric constituents involved in pain-relieving and pain-killing activities, it can prove to be an effective measure against migraine pain.

What does it mean?
It means consumption of turmeric can be useful to relieve the migraine pain. The activity of its constituents is able to decrease the sensitivity to the pain stimuli as well as modulate pathways of pain stimuli production.

2.Turmeric can reduce stress and depression

One of the most significant triggers for migraine attack is stress and depression. The level of anxiety and stress regarding work or aspects of life is linked to the migraine patients.

The similarities in the biological aspects of migraine and depression are also observed. Both the conditions are associated with low levels of a molecule, known as 5-hydroxytryptamine or serotonin.

Some of the bioactive components of turmeric are known to act against depression.

Studies have found curcumin to possess antidepressant action. It increases the levels of serotonin and dopamine that leads to the reduction of depression.

It has been found to be effective even in the patients with major depression.

Another turmeric constituent, turmerone has also been observed to have antidepressant activity. It reduces depression by increasing serotonin and decreasing corticosterone levels.

What does it mean?
It means turmeric intake can reduce stress and depression. Since stress and depression often trigger migraine, this can be useful in preventing the occurrence of migraine.

Turmeric Benefits for Migraine tfh

3.Turmeric can prevent hormonal imbalance

The prevalence of migraine in women is largely associated with the hormonal changes and imbalance throughout their life, particularly of estrogen (female sex hormone).

Estrogen affects the central nervous system and cause neuronal activation, resulting in migraine.

The lowering or increasing of estrogen, both can trigger migraine.

Turmeric has been found to increase the serum estrogen levels in cases where estrogen levels fall.

In cases of diseases such as endometriosis which is caused by high estrogen levels, curcumin is known to reduce estradiol (an estrogen) production.

This suggests turmeric has a potential of promoting hormonal balance in women.

What does it mean?
It means use of turmeric can promote hormonal balance, especially of estrogen. This can be helpful in preventing the migraine triggered by estrogen imbalance in women.

4.Turmeric can protect against effects of food allergens and additives

Migraine may be triggered by dietary products as well. A number of food products such as coffee, fruits, beans, alcohol etc, can induce migraine pain due to allergic reactions.

Some food additives, for example monosodium glutamate (MSG), benzoate, sulphites etc also have a potential to set off migraine.

Turmeric has a potential to act against allergies as well as toxicity posed by the food additives.

Turmeric has anti-allergic action. This action is carried out by the immunomodulatory mechanism of curcumin, i.e. it modulates the immune response to prevent allergic reactions.

Curcumin is also found to protect against neurotoxicity caused by monosodium glutamate (MSG).
The neuroprotective activity of curcumin is also seen against sulphite toxicity.

What does it mean?
It means turmeric intake in diet can prevent the allergic reactions and toxicity caused by various food additives. This can be helpful against the set off of migraine by these factors.

5.Turmeric can protect against side effect of NSAIDs

Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs are commonly used medication for the treatment of migraine. However, these drugs pose a risk of serious side-effects.

The NSAIDs cause gastrointestinal and cardiovascular disorders. These include gastric ulcers, diarrhea, nausea, hypertension etc. Some of these side-effects may even be life-threatening.

Turmeric is able to protect the body against these side effects. Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action protects against the gastrointestinal disorders.

Curcumin is known to prevent the gastric damages caused by NSAIDs in animal models.

What does it mean?
It means turmeric consumption can be helpful in preventing the side-effects induced by the migraine medication, i.e. NSAIDs. Turmeric can protect against the damages caused by these drugs to the stomach and intestines.

Dosage of turmeric for migraine

turmeric powderThere are no specifications as such known for the dosage of turmeric for migraine. Turmeric is a safe food product for dietary use and be consumed without much apprehension.

A matter of concern regarding turmeric use is that it is poorly absorbed by the body. (Read How to improve turmeric’s bioavailability?)

The absorption of turmeric in the body can be improved by taking it in the form of Golden Paste (it has black pepper and other healthy oils in along with turmeric).

The recipe for Golden Paste made from turmeric powder can be found here. The recipe using fresh turmeric root can be found here.

Turmeric intake should be initiated with quarter or half a tablespoon every day for a week. If gastric problems are not encountered, then the intake can be gradually raised by quarter or half a tablespoon per week.

1 to 2 teaspoon, 2 or 3 times a day is most recommendable (accurately 1 teaspoon 3 times per day).

Turmeric consumption should be avoided if stomach is empty. (Read Does Turmeric cause acid reflux?)
It is not suitable to take turmeric at the same time of taking medicines. Turmeric intake and medicine intake should be 3-4 hours apart. (Read Black pepper in GP: Does it cause drug interaction?)

The dose of turmeric cannot be specifically same for every individual. It varies from one person to another depending on what dosage can be tolerated by one’s stomach.

Turmeric milk and Turmeric tea are some delicious preparations of turmeric.

Check out our recommendation on best organic turmeric brands, if you are looking for good organic turmeric brands.

Turmeric supplements are another viable option for turmeric use, but advice of a medical expert is important to avoid any adverse effects.

Precautions

Dietary consumption of turmeric is generally very safe. Turmeric is used regularly in a number of cuisines. The dietary amounts of turmeric pose no adversity and can be used every day.

When using turmeric supplements, some precautions must be kept in mind. (Read Side effects of Turmeric)

Turmeric can cause acid reflux if taken on an empty stomach in sensitive individuals. (Read Does turmeric cause acid reflux?)

A general precaution is outlined that turmeric may have drug interactions with stomach acid reducing medication, antidepressants, blood sugar reducing drugs etc. Curcumin found in turmeric is known to interfere in drug metabolism. Hence it is advised not to take curcumin supplements concomitantly with any other medicine.

Turmeric supplements should be taken with caution if suffering from bleeding disorder. Turmeric has blood thinning action therefore, advice of an expert is important before using these supplements. Turmeric consumption is however, safe in dietary amounts. (Read Is turmeric a blood thinner?)

Limited use of turmeric is advised for people at risk of gout and kidney stones.
Overuse of turmeric can elevate the risk of developing kidney stones and can worsen gout condition. (Read Is turmeric safe in gout? Does turmeric cause kidney stones?)

Turmeric increases the bile flow. Those who are suffering from gallstones, this can lead to obstruction of the bile duct. This can be painful.(Read Is turmeric safe in gallstones?)

Turmeric causes blood thinning which may hinder the process of blood clotting after surgery. Therefore, turmeric consumption (supplements) should be discontinued around 2 weeks before the schedule of surgery.

Pregnant and lactating women should avoid turmeric supplements.

Conclusion

There are no direct evidences available for the use of turmeric in migraine. However, there are several studies that cover efficacy of turmeric in various aspects of migraine.

The biological activities of turmeric constituents can be beneficial in the treatment of migraine pain. Moreover, turmeric can also act against various major migraine triggering factors.

Additionally, turmeric can also be employed to protect the body against the side-effects of the drugs used for migraine treatment.

Overall, it can be concluded that turmeric certainly has an enormous potential in treatment as well as in preventing the set-off of migraine due to various factors.

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30 Comments

  1. I have had occasional ocular migraines for the past 30 years. They are infrequent but cumulatively enough that I know what to expect from them. The next day after I started taking curcumin, I had the most severe ocular migraines of my life, lasting for the next two or three days. They included another severe symptom that I never had before, the loss of all vision for several seconds; it did not become dark, more like my entire field of vision went white or blank. Since this might have been a coincidence, I tried taking curcumin again several weeks later. Starting the next day again, I had the exact same effects of several severe ocular migraines and one episode of my vision blanking out completely. I immediately stopped the curcumin and have had no further ocular migraines or vision problems since.

    Except for occasional ocular migraines, my health and fitness are outstanding. I take a few supplements to further enhance my health rather than as remedies for any problems. There is no doubt in my mind that the extreme and idiosyncratic ocular migraines were triggered by curcumin. This may not happen to others not susceptible to ocular migraines. I also appreciate and accept that any supplement with the potential for targeted benefits also carries a risk of side-effects. It is possible that curcumin has valuable health effects for the main population, but anyone with a history of ocular migraines should use extreme caution with it.

    1. Hi Tom. Thank you for pointing this out. Yes it could be a case where either turmeric or other ingredients in the capsule triggered severe migraine. This area needs more research. It is disappointing to hear about your experience but thank you for putting forward this precaution for other readers. Wish you great health!

  2. I’ve been using YouTheory Turmeric for 4 months now. It is preventing my migraines. I take 2 capsules with breakfast. I was originally trying it to treat my tmj. It has not helped my tmj, but no migraines. You must take it every day I think and not just when you have the migraine.

    1. Glad to hear that turmeric is helping with the migraines. Yes if taken regularly turmeric should help with pain and inflammation in TMJ. You can consider including turmeric in diet as well.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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 !!!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

      1. Hey, I have had lifetime migraines and just survived over a week long episode of excruciating pain. I have been trying to learn about alternatives to drugs since I ended up rebounding because of taking too many pain meds. (non-narcotic) Anyway, been researching and found Magnesium Chloride absorbed thru the skin is the best uninhibited way to utilize magnesium. I have been using Epsom Salts and it supposedly is not as good. I ordered some online and am eagerly awaiting it. You can make Mag oil, which is not “oil” and rub it into your skin if you do not want or have time to take baths in it. I have also started trying Curcumin/Tumeric and so far so good. My migraines have increased with age……..and I need to enjoy life and not lay around in pain all the time. So I am eager to try ANYTHING new that does not have too many side effects, used within reason. Everyone is different but everyone NEEDS magnesium!! Just not ALL the magnesium you see in stores is absorbable or helpful for your body. Good luck to all, hope my info helps someone.

  11. 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.

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