Phytomedicines in the Treatment of Migraine

CNS Drugs. 2019 May;33(5):399-415. doi: 10.1007/s40263-018-0597-2.


Migraine is a disabling neurovascular disorder with few targeted, tolerable and effective treatments. Phytomedicines, or plant-based medicinal formulations, hold great promise in the identification of novel therapeutic targets in migraine. Many patients also turn toward herbal and plant-based therapies for the treatment of their migraines as clinical and preclinical evidence of efficacy increases. Patients seek effective and tolerable treatments instead of or in addition to current conventional pharmacologic therapies. We review some phytomedicines potentially useful for migraine treatment-feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), butterbur (Petasites hybridus), marijuana (Cannabis spp.), Saint John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) and the Damask rose (Rosa × damascena)-with respect to their mechanisms of action and evidence for treatment of migraine. The evidence for feverfew is mixed; butterbur is effective with potential risks of hepatotoxicity related to preparation; marijuana has not been shown to be effective in migraine treatment, and data are scant; Saint John's Wort shows relevant physiological activity but is a hepatic enzyme inducer and lacks clinical studies for this purpose; the Damask rose when used in topical preparations did not show efficacy in one clinical trial. Other plant preparations have been considered for migraine treatment but most without blinded randomized, placebo-controlled trial evidence.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cannabis / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Hypericum / chemistry
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Petasites / chemistry
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Preparations / isolation & purification
  • Plant Preparations / therapeutic use*
  • Plants, Medicinal / chemistry*
  • Tanacetum parthenium / chemistry


  • Plant Preparations