According to a study published in the journal Headache, the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) specifically for the treatment of migraine and headache is “relatively low” in the U.S.1
While some CAM products have shown beneficial effects in clinical studies of headache and migraine, “there has been little research exploring the reasons for using CAM, and the types of CAM used, among this population,” explained lead author Yan Zhang, PhD.
Dr. Zhang and colleagues conducted a secondary analysis using data from the 2012 U.S. National Health Interview Survey which included 34,525 adults. Of the total sample, 18.7% (n=6,558) suffered from headache or migraine. Over one-third of these patients (37.6%) reported using CAM for different conditions but use specifically for headache/migraine was just reported in 3.3%.
About half of patients who used CAM for headache/migraine reported using it along with prescription (47.8%) or over-the-counter (OTC; 55.1%) drugs. The odds of using CAM increased as the severity of the headache/migraine increased (severe migraine odds ratio [OR] 2.32, 95% CI: 1.41, 3.82; both recurring headache/severe migraine OR 3.36, 95% CI: 2.08, 5.43 when compared to those with recurring headaches only).
The most commonly used CAM was manipulative therapy (22.0%), followed by herbal supplements (21.7%) and mind-body therapy (17.9%). The three most popular reasons for using CAM to manage headache were general wellness (28.7%), overall health improvement (26.8%), and stress reduction (16.7%).
“This information may assist health providers and consumers in making informed decisions about the safest and most appropriate approach to managing headache/migraine,” the authors concluded.
- Zhang Y, Dennis JA, Leach MJ, et al. Complementary and alternative medicine use among US adults with headache or migraine: results from the 2012 national health interview survey. Headache. 2017. doi: 10.1111/head.13148 [Epub ahead of print]
This article originally appeared on MPR