Can you kill Migraine Pain with Ginger instead of Triptans?

It was only last month that we talked about taking ginger to fight the pain of headache and migraine, as well as other symptoms.  Actually, ginger has long been a popular treatment for nausea, which is used regularly by doctors.

But a recent study in the journal Phytotherapy Research set out to investigate ginger specifically as a migraine abortive.

In a study of 100 patients, each patient received either sumatriptan (ie Imitrex) or ginger powder.  They did not know which one they were getting.

This was an abortive treatment, taken for 5 migraine attacks.  So what were the results?

  • After 2 hours:  with either treatment, there was a significant decrease in “mean headaches severity”.  Both treatments helped about the same amount.
  • Patient satisfaction:  About the same for either treatment.
  • Side effects:  Fewer in ginger, more in sumatriptan.

In the end, then, the treatments were very similar.  It would be interesting to know more about individual symptoms.  For example, did ginger help more with nausea?  Inflammation?

But the main benefit of ginger seems to be the lack of side effects, although that doesn’t mean you can just take all the ginger you want without checking with your doctor (especially if you’re diabetic, have a heart condition, or are pregnant).

Ginger powder capsules may be worth a look (such as these standardized ginger capsules), especially for those who haven’t been helped by triptans, or those who are concerned about side effects and long term effects of triptans.

Study abstract:  Comparison Between the Efficacy of Ginger and Sumatriptan in the Ablative Treatment of the Common Migraine

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14 comments… add one
  • Has anyone tried this as an abortive? Does it work?

  • Rhiannon Morgayne May 15, 2013

    I’m going to try it, the only thing that worked for me (Cafergot) is no longer available.

  • Zeina Ahmed May 16, 2013

    This is a problem because I don’t like ginger 🙁

  • And Zeina Ahmed, the good news is that you can take supplements instead of just eating ginger! Although I admit, I did have ginger in my dinner last night (complete coincidence, naturally). 🙂

  • James May 17, 2013

    I had a lot of comments and questions about this study, so I’ve posted a few more details about this and previous research here:

  • Zeina Ahmed May 17, 2013


  • Rhiannon, I’d recommend going to a compounding pharmacy to have them make you Cafergot. They can combine the active ingredients of that medication for you.

  • christine Feb 21, 2014

    This is great, I will have to try it, since the only triptan that works for me, Maxalt (and it works WONDERS) is no longer covered by my insurance 🙁

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