Q. I had headaches for over 30 years–migraine, tension, cluster, you name it! The Group Health Pain Clinic told me to take mega doses of vitamin B2, and no painkillers.

I learned I had been causing my own headaches because of a rebound effect from the pain relievers. My headaches stopped in less than 30 days and I have been headache-free for more than a decade.

The vitamin costs me $7 for 100 tablets. I found a study online that talks about this use of riboflavin (B2). Multivitamins won’t work because you would get far too much of the other ingredients for 200 mgs of B2.

A. Many other people have been caught in the vicious cycle of taking medicine that causes headaches as it wears off, for which they take more medicine. Both prescription and over-the-counter pain relievers can cause this painful reaction, but the use of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) does not seem to cause this kind of rebound. In a recent review, neurologists discussed migraine prevention and concluded: “Patients can choose between evidence-based nutraceuticals such as riboflavin, feverfew, butterbur, or coenzyme Q10, or more traditional pharmacotherapeutics [drugs]” (Current Treatment Options in Neurology, Jan. 2008).

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  1. CB

    Pat – Google B2 migraine dosage. Everything that I see says 400 mg a day. You may want to work up to this as it has mild side effects. I had a migraine yesterday, took 380mg of feverfew and 100mg of B2 and noticed it dulled (although not eliminated) my pain. It also seemed like it increased my energy level. For best results, you are supposed to take 400mg every day as a preventive.

  2. pat

    I am taking the b2 once daily 100mg. my question is how much to take daily. I too have headaches tension headache cluster headache. I’ve been taking medication for it.

  3. SG

    I have been taking HeadacheFree Vitamins for 4 months, its a multivitamin with 400mg of magnesium and 400mg of B2. I have def. noticed a significant reduction in the # of migraines I suffer.

    • k

      I was just told by my Neurologist to take 200mg of magnesium and b2 twice a day. I am hoping it helps!

  4. MCJ

    A few years ago I started taking a B-50mg complex of all the B vitamins, and upped my magnesium intake to 300mg or so in addition to a basic multivitamin. This made a huge improvement to the severity of my migraines, but didn’t solve them.
    I then took the plunge and started a low-tyramine diet in addition to my vitamins, and the diet practically eliminated the migraines. The diet though, is pretty drastic, so I started working with an acupuncturist. He put me on herbs, and my migraines came back. I suspect it’s something in the herbs.
    We’re adjusting the herb formula, and in the meantime I added extra vitamins so I’m now taking my B-50 complex, 50mg B6, 300mg B2, and 600mg magnesium plus a normal multivitamin. Once again, I’ve notice a big improvement and I only needed one Aleve last week. Vitamins really do help immensely!

  5. MLT

    I have been taking propranolol twice daily and magnesium and calcium and B6 for about a month now and I have had only about four bad headaches which is much better than four a week. I am thinking about starting to take the B2 in addition with these medications. Thought I would share this combination just in case it might work for someone else.

  6. DF

    I took 200mg of B2 and 250mg of Magnesium daily, for months, and still suffered from migraines. I was excited to try it as I have tried SO many different things, diet, and prescription migraine medicines. I broke out horribly all over my back, no where else. Since I have stopped taking the B2 and Magnesium I am completely cleared up, but still have migraines. Anyone else have a similar reaction to this vitamin dosage?

  7. VG

    Over 12 years ago I was having terrible headaches about 20 minutes of eating a hot bowl of Quaker oat cereal mixed with cinnamon. I was pregnant at the time and found myself craving it every morning. They were horrible. Until one day I picked up a book to read that said how cinnamon can cause headaches. Through some experimenting, sure enough it was because of the cinnamon. MSG is a big one. Cheddar cheese, wine, cold cuts, things with red food coloring, and perfumes or strong chemical orders. I’ve had migraines all of my life and still struggling with them. I am starting to think that my vitamins are also triggering them.

  8. SD

    I also would like to know the recommended dosage of B2 a person should take for headaches and also the procedure for getting off painkillers.

  9. NJR

    I searched the web for The Group Health Pain Clinic, but did not find anything. How can I find out more about their recommendation for taking B-2 for headaches? I’d like to know their procedure for getting off the painkillers.

  10. athosjoe

    I’d be interested in reading about the riboflavin study that the person who made the initial question states in her comment. Any chance the moderators know who she is and could contact her for me OR is it possible she will read this and reply?

  11. LCP

    I had histamine headaches for years, and used Imitrex with good success. But in 2006, after a history of TIA, the Imitrex was withdrawn. I began having headaches 3-4 times a week and nothing helped.
    I read in a book that bananas can be a trigger. I had increased my banana intake because of a low KCL, I stopped the bananas and have not had a histamine headache since!

  12. DER

    I had severe migraines until about 1982 when a neurologist told me that a new (then) beta blocker blood pressure medication, propranalol, had been reported as being effective in the prevention of migraines. He prescribed it for me, and I haven’t had a migraine headache since then. Not one! Inderal is the brand name I first used, but I take generic propranolol now.

  13. BB

    Magnesium 400-500mg is what helps me kick out of the headache (tension/migraine/re-bound) cycle. FYI–It does have a laxative effect. I still have to limit sugars, stress and get enough sleep.

  14. JLS

    I got stuck in the rebound migraine cycle after a year of taking tylenol and aspirin more than three times a week for my chronic migraines. I had stopped taking the prophylaxis pharmaceuticals in an attempt to get pregnant and my Neurologist prescribed me high doses of Riboflavin as a prophylaxis.
    It has worked amazingly well for me but I have had to add standard medication to it as well. I would definitely recommend this treatment to anyone who is experiencing migraines or tension headaches.

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