As doctors and researchers come to better understand migraines, migraine sufferers have an ever-growing body of effective treatments. Although medications from antidepressants to beta-blockers have successfully treated migraines, you may be interested in another approach. If you don’t have health insurance or you feel uncomfortable with medication, consider these home remedies for migraine pain.
Prevention should be at the forefront of your migraine-treatment strategy. To prevent migraines, track your headaches and look for patterns or triggers. Common triggers include stress, disruption of sleep schedule, caffeine, certain foods, strong odors, and dehydration. Once you’ve identified triggers, cut them out of your life as much as possible. For example, if you notice getting too little or too much sleep triggers your migraines, stick to a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends. If certain scents trigger your migraines, ask your coworkers or family to refrain from wearing strongly scented perfumes or lotions. Avoid foods that trigger headaches. Don’t go too long without eating, and stay hydrated. Unfortunately, there are some triggers you won’t be able to control, such as changes in weather or hormones. And sometimes, a migraine seems to come on for no reason at all. When that happens, consider moving on to the following treatments.
Biofeedback works under the premise that, once you are aware of your body’s natural processes, such as breathing and blood flow, you can guide these processes. In one study, children suffering migraines saw improvement in their symptoms after an hour of biofeedback. Here’s how it works: First, you must pay attention to your body’s natural rhythms, especially your blood flow. During a migraine attack, use visualization and relaxation to redirect your blood flow away from your head, down to your hands and feet. Although biofeedback can take a while to learn, it has the advantage of being available anytime, anywhere, once you’ve mastered it.
Herbs and Supplements
Feverfew—available from most health-food stores in leaf, dried, capsule, or tea forms—is one of the longest-standing herbal remedies for migraines. According to the University of Maryland, 100-to-300 mg of feverfew four times daily can prevent migraines or relieve migraines already in progress. Traditional antidepressants have found some success in preventing migraines, so herbs and supplements such as St. John’s Wort and 5-HTP that have been successful in treating depression may also reduce migraines. In addition, clinical trials revealed that 150 mg of coenzyme Q10 daily reduced migraines in 50% of sufferers.
Some people report migraine relief from inhaling the essential oils of certain herbs, especially rosemary, lavender, peppermint, and marjoram. To use aromatherapy, dab a small amount of essential oil on your neck or forehead and inhale deeply during a migraine attack. Sleeping with a jar of essential oil near your bed or keeping one open on your desk may also reduce migraine attacks. However, use caution when experimenting with aromatherapy, as strong odors can serve as a migraine trigger.
Discuss home remedies with your doctor, particularly if you are taking herbs and supplements that may interact with other medications. Always consult your doctor for a severe headache that comes on suddenly, is different from your usual headache pattern, or causes slurred speech or confusion.