How Riboflavin (b2) Can Give You More Energy and Prevent Migraine
What if I told you there was a daily supplement you could take that would not only decrease your migraine days per month, but would also give you more ENERGY? This may sound too good to be true!
As a person living with migraine, I suffer from a constant battle of fatigue. Whether this fatigue is from a migraine just breaking, aka the wondrous migraine hangover, or fatigue from not sleeping well or lets be honest, life in general. So, I am always looking for ways to increase my energy without having to drink the lovely ol’ caffeine (because as we all know, too much caffeine can be a migraine trigger in itself).
Well lucky for us, researchers have found just the solution and it’s RIboflavin (b2). There are so many B vitamins out there, all boasting for their ability to increase energy, but little old b2 is perfect for energy and migraine prevention and personally, I don’t think it gets recognized enough.
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The Research on RIboflavin (b2) in Migraine Prevention
The use of RIboflavin (b2) as a migraine preventative treatment has been studied in a number of clinical trials and it has promising results.
In a study published in The European Journal of Neurology, subjects were given 400mg of Riboflavin (b2) daily. It was found that at the 6 month mark, the subjects had a reduction in migraine attacks by 50%, they went from an average of 4 migraine attacks per month down to 2 migraine attacks per month. On top of that, the average abortive medications use decreased as well, and went from a baseline of 7 per month down to 4.5 abortive medications used per month.
That's absolutely incredible! Basically, people had a reduction of migraine attacks by 50% and since they were not having as many attacks, they were able to use almost half of abortive medications. Abortive medication is the medicine you take for pain relief. This can be over the counter medication like Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (Advil) or it can be prescription medication like Sumatriptan (Imitrex) or Nurtec.
Similar findings were found in a clinical trial performed by Shoenen, Jacquy, and Lenaerts. They performed a randomized, controlled clinical trial, which is just a fancy way of saying that half the participants took Riboflavin (b2) while the other half took a placebo, but the participants did not know which one they took. By doing this, they were able to see if Riboflavin (b2) truly worked. Their results were amazing! They too found that migraine frequency decreased by half!
With all of these promising results, it's crazy that Riboflavin (b2) is not talked about and recommended more in the migraine community.
The Science Behind why Riboflavin (b2) Works for Migraine Prevention
The reason that Riboflavin has the potential to work so well for people with frequent migraine is because it is able to work at the cellular level, specifically with the mitochondria.
Let me take you on a little science friendly journey and break this down for you!
Mitochondria are organelles found in the cells and they are responsible for the production of the chemical energy that the cell needs to survive. Scientists have found a direct link between people with migraine and the mitochondrial not working the way that they are supposed to, this is known as mitochondrial dysfunction. The reason that mitochondrial dysfunction can actually contribute to more migraine attacks is because it increases the susceptibility to a migraine attack, thus lowering your migraine threshold, and at the same time acts as a migraine trigger.
Yikes! So essentially, mitochondria are more than just a tiny cell seen under a microscope. They have a HUGE job and when not functioning properly, it can increase migraine attacks.
This is similar to batteries. A battery's job in a flashlight is to make the light turn on, nice and bright. When the batteries are not functioning correctly, the light may flash, appear dim, or maybe not even work at all.
So, scientists have found that by taking high doses of Riboflavin (b2) this can actually help to aid in the process of mitochondrial dysfunction and therefore decreasing migraine frequency and duration of an attack. Wow! Who knew that a little b vitamin could help with such an important job!
My Experience with Riboflavin (b2)
I remember five years ago when I went to see a neurologist for the first time. If you know my story, it took me from having my first migraine at 12 years old, until I was 23 years old to FINALLY see a neurologist! She was extremely nice and took the time to listen to my journey with migraine and then at the end of the appointment, she gave me a one page piece of paper that outlined the supplements to take for migraine and the foods to avoid and there I went. I still have this paper to this day! I remember at the time, I treasured it like GOLD. It had all the SECRETS I had never known about migraine. I immediately went to the vitamin store, and I got every supplement on the list and I tried them all at the same time.
Now this paper never said, try one supplement at a time and keep taking for 3 months before deciding if it works well for you. It never said WHY to take these supplements. It just gave me a list with the dosage and at the time I was so desperate for relief, I took them all!
Knowing what I know today, I should have taken one at a time and tried it for AT LEAST 3 months and recorded it in a migraine diary/journal to compare past months without it. And then at the end of the 3 months, either add in another supplement or take away the one because it may not be working.
BUT these are the simple education points my one page migraine recommendation paper failed to state. So I took ALL the supplements for months, at first I felt better and then I got confused as to which ones worked and which ones didn’t. Then I got lazy and stopped taking so many “pills” each morning and so I wasn’t consistent. Also, ingredients, bioavailability, and brands didn’t make any sense to me. But hey we all start somewhere.
Now, I fully understand the POWER of being educated about your own chronic illness.
So, long story short, a few years later, I did try taking Riboflavin (b2) again and I felt like it helped a lot. Personally, I don’t think it cut my migraine days in half, but I do think I had one less migraine per week and I noticed an increase in energy. I took it consistently for about a year and I stopped because I wondered if it was really helping still or had stopped working. Now after figuring out most of my dietary triggers and working with other supplements, I am excited to give this one another try! I definitely think it is not talked about enough in the migraine community as it has so many positive benefits and no side effects!
Benefits of Riboflavin (b2)
As you can see, there are numerous benefits to taking 400mg of Riboflavin (b2) daily and they are:
- Low cost
- Easy to tolerate
- Has the potential to decrease migraine attacks by 50% per month
- Must take for 3 to 6 months to see added benefits
- Aids in mitochondrial dysfunction
- Few to no side effects (less than 1% reported diarrhea or abdominal cramping)
Now after learning all of this, I hope that you feel encouraged, educated, and empowered to decide about adding Riboflavin (b2) to your Daily Migraine Routine. I always recommend when trying a new supplement to record in a Migraine Diary and take consistently for 3+ months to see if you have a reduction in migraine attacks.