Anyone who experiences migraines on a regular basis knows it can be some of the worst, most disruptive pain a person can experience. The throbbing pain, vision problems, and nausea can make it hard to do anything from getting through a day of work to spending time with your family. Chronic migraines can even get in the way of a good night’s sleep, making it that much more likely for them to recur during the day.
If you’ve reached a dead end with over-the-counter or prescription medication for your migraine relief, you may be wondering if natural and alternative treatments can help. We’re sharing this helpful overview of some of the most common natural migraine remedies as well as other forms of pain management that can help.
Migraines are severe headaches that generally cause a throbbing or pulsing pain. They often affect one side of the head only, although they can sometimes affect both sides. Migraines are often accompanied by a range of symptoms, including sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, and vomiting.
The exact causes of migraines are not fully understood by doctors and medical researchers. Some evidence suggests they may be related to changes in the brain and interactions with the nervous system and blood vessels. Patients report common triggers that can cause a migraine, including stress, changes in sleep, hormonal changes, certain foods or drinks. Additionally, environmental factors such as bright lights or loud noises can bring on migraines for many sufferers.
10 Common Natural Migraine Remedies
The most common migraine treatments are over-the-counter medications and prescription medications. Although these can be effective, many people seeking migraine relief turn to a combination of natural remedies that can help to decrease the risk of triggering migraines, and soothe symptoms when they do happen. Natural remedies for migraines can range from basic lifestyle changes to alternative therapies, including these popular options:
Dehydration is one of the most common triggers for headaches, including migraines. By drinking enough water throughout the day, you significantly increase the chances of preventing the development of migraines. Additionally, if you do feel a migraine coming on, drinking water is one of the first steps you should take.
2. Proper Nutrition
Eating a healthy diet and regular meals every day is another key preventative measure that migraine sufferers can and should take. Not only is skipping meals reported as one of the biggest contributors to migraines, but the foods you eat can make a difference too. For example, many preservatives such as nitrates and nitrites, and flavor enhancers such as monosodium glutamate have been shown to trigger migraines.
3. Limiting Stress
Another completely natural approach for preventing and managing migraines is to recognize and address stressful situations in your daily life that can lead to headaches. Although there is no way to completely avoid stress in your life, being able to recognize the triggers and respond with positive and relaxing behaviors such as deep breathing or closing your eyes for a few seconds can make a difference.
4. Good Sleep Hygiene
There is evidence that sleep disorders like insomnia and migraines may be closely linked. Not only can missing sleep make you more likely to get a migraine, but getting more sleep and better sleep can be another measure of prevention. Sleep hygiene is the practice of building and maintaining good habits to prepare for sleep. This includes turning off lights and screens before bed, doing calming and relaxing activities, limiting food and caffeine in the hours before bed, and sleeping on a supportive and comfortable mattress and pillow.
Along with consistent and healthy nutrition, there is some evidence that certain supplements may help with both the prevention and treatment of migraines. According to the American Migraine Foundation, studies have shown that magnesium deficiency in the brain is associated with migraines, and supplementing with 400-600 mg of oral magnesium citrate daily is recommended for migraine prevention.
6. Coenzyme Q10
Also known as CoQ10, Coenzyme Q10 is a natural compound that is linked to generating energy in our cells. Although we make this enzyme naturally in our bodies, our ability to do so declines with age. In addition to other benefits, it has been shown to reduce low energy levels in brain cells that may be associated with migraines. Studies have shown that supplementing with CoQ10 has been associated with reduced migraine frequency and severity.
Ginger extract has been widely studied for its health benefits largely due to its properties as an anti-inflammatory. According to research, these properties also include an ability to help prevent and lessen pain and nausea associated with migraines.
8. Yoga and Other Forms of Exercise
By improving blood flow and even helping with nerve function, exercise in general is associated with helping patients who are dealing with all kinds of pain, including migraine headaches. One form of exercise that is particularly effective is yoga. By combining deep breathing, poses that help you focus on posture and core strength, and low impact cardiovascular movements, yoga can address many of the risk factors for migraines.
Acupuncture has been growing in popularity as an alternative pain management therapy, and there is a growing body of research to support this popularity. Many chronic migraine sufferers have reported positive results from regular acupuncture sessions. According to one review of clinical trials, 59% of migraine sufferers who undergo at least six months of acupuncture reported a 50% decrease in migraine frequency.
10. Therapeutic Massage
By relaxing tense muscles and improving blood flow to the brain, therapeutic massage can remove some of the primary triggers for many people dealing with migraines. When undergoing a therapeutic massage, always schedule sessions with a licensed professional. It is also critical to stay hydrated before and after receiving a massage.
Taking the Next Step in Migraine Relief
At Physician Partners of America (PPOA), we have worked with many people dealing with chronic migraines. Our caring and dedicated team can work to understand your specific symptoms and help create a personalized, individualized treatment plan that fits your life. Effective treatment plans very often include a combination of lifestyle changes, natural remedies, and interventional pain management.
Migraines do not need to control your life, contact PPOA to start your pain relief journey today.