Riboflavin’s use in preventing migraines and rheumatoid arthritis

By Jeremy Brown

Naturopath and educator

I have written previously on the uses of Vitamin B1, following this, we are looking at another water-soluble B vitamin, vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin.  Riboflavin has a number of uses including preventing migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, and age-related cataracts. 

Preventing migraines

Chronic migraines can be a debilitating condition. It can affect social life, and work and general functioning. Sufferers with live with the constant threat of suffering another migraine. Thankfully, there is long-term relief. High-dose treatment with Riboflavin has been soon to reduce the frequency of migraines. Studies of riboflavin migraine prevention showed a significant reduction in migraine frequency 50%. Painkiller use was also halved.


Dose: 200mg of Riboflavin morning and night.

Length of treatment: results are seen after three months of consistent use.

Riboflavin is effective at reducing migraine frequency and pain and may halve painkiller use. Supplementation must be taken for at least 3 months.

Rheumatoid arthritis

One study has suggested that patients who have increased pain and active rheumatoid arthritis may benefit from Riboflavin. In one study, rheumatoid arthritic patients showed signs of Riboflavin deficiency. At this stage the association is unclear, and further studies are still needed.

Riboflavin may play a role in reducing concerns with rheumatoid arthritis, though further studies are needed.

Age-related cataract prevention

Riboflavin has been associated with Riboflavin deficiency in animals dating back to the 1930s. Since then, this has been confirmed by human studies. Riboflavin indirectly influences key enzymes associated with lens health related to free radical damage. Large cross-sectional studies of close to 3000 volunteers detected a clear link between Riboflavin and cataracts. Other vitamins involved include Vitamin A, Niacin (B3) and Folate (B9).

Riboflavin is involved in the prevention of age-related cataracts along with other nutrients.

Increased need

Some drugs can increase the need for riboflavin and include:


Oral contraceptive pill

Tricyclic anti-depressants


Sources of Riboflavin

There are two sources of Riboflavin; bacterial or dietary. Riboflavin can either be made by the bacteria in your stomach (assuming there are good levels of healthy bacteria) or can be taken in from dietary/supplementary measures. 

Food sources

Organ meats

Yeast products


Wild rice


Cooking can destroy, some, if not all of the Riboflavin in food, so consider supplementation.

As always, consult with your medical practitioner and/or pharmacist

As with many natural medicines, the applications are broad and far-reaching. Speaking to a Naturopathic practitioner will maximise your health outcomes to help you reach your health goals sooner.

Click here to make an inquiry

Yours in health,

Jeremy Brown

| Naturopath | Educator | Writer | 

Supporting Evidence: 

Braun, L., & Cohen, M. (2010). Herbs & natural supplements. Sydney: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.

Hechtman, L. (2012). Clinical Naturopathic medicine. Sydney, Australia: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier Australia.

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