With sudden attacks that cause throbbing pain, nausea, vomiting, and light and sound sensitivity, migraines can wreak havoc on people's ability to function and work. In fact, work absenteeism and lost productivity are a couple of the most common effects of migraines.1
Migraine sufferers are often dissatisfied with the available treatment options. The focus, therefore, is to identify herbal solutions to migraines, such as chamomile, which have often been used for centuries to relieve similar ailments, but lack scientific evidence for their safety and efficacy.
This clinical trial was set up to determine whether a standardized formulation of chamomile is useful for alleviating migraine symptoms.
For this clinical trial, researchers recruited 100 adults who have had migraines without auras for 10 years on average. They were randomly assigned to two groups with their own regimens to be started at the onset of a migraine attack
- The control group was told to rub 2 mL of chamomile oil in their temples, forehead, and behind the ears.
- The treatment group was instructed to rub 2 mL of the placebo formulation in the same body areas.
Since it was a crossover trial, the first treatment was followed by 14 days of a washout period, during which no applications were done. Then, the regimens were switched between the two groups, and all patients eventually underwent both treatments types during subsequent migraine attacks.
Visual analog scale (VAS) questionnaires were used to monitor the severity of pain throughout the trial. Other migraine-symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and photo- and phonophobia (light and sound sensitivity), were also assessed
After applying chamomile formulation, participants showed significant improvements in all measured variables, including pain, vomiting, nausea, photophobia, and phonophobia.
Within the first 2 hours, almost 30% of chamomile participants reported no more migraine pain, in comparison to 2% in the placebo group.
Within the first 24 hours, 74.3% of chamomile participants and 10.4% in the placebo group reported sustained pain relief.
Four patients have shown allergy symptoms and dropped out of the trial.
What Does this Mean?
This study shows the efficacy of chamomile for migraine without aura. Besides alleviating migraine pain, chamomile has shown to control other symptoms, like nausea and vomiting as well as light and sound sensitivity.
Topical applications of chamomile oil allow for faster absorption of its medicinal compounds, resulting in quicker relief from symptoms. It may help prevent discomforts commonly seen in oral administration of medications, such as gastrointestinal symptoms.
Other herbs that may be beneficial for migraines are coriander, ginger, rosemary, and feverfew.
- Neurological Sciences, Evaluation of the effect of topical chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.) oleogel as pain relief in migraine without aura: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study, 2018
- National Headache Foundation. (n.d.). Billions in Workplace Productivity Lost. Retrieved January 19, 2021 from https://headaches.org/2009/10/15/billions-in-workplace-productivity-lost/