I’ve suffered from migraines most of my life and finding relief from the pain is a constant effort. With traditional medicine, the majority of migraine sufferers are given a plethora of different drugs to try and deal with the pain. The problem is that these drugs often have side effects that can be just as debilitating as a migraine.
After suffering from a bleeding ulcer caused by a medication given me to prevent my migraines, I decided that I was done with the traditional route. I wanted relief but naturally. The problem with natural remedies is that often they don’t work well as an abortive method to stop the pain. Many are great for prevention but what if you have a migraine- NOW?
Well I have good news for you! There are natural remedies that can be just as effective as some of the drugs that doctors often prescribe to treat migraine pain. These are my go-to methods to deal with my migraines and without the side effects that often make a migraine episode worse.
So ice is really an old-school remedy but it works! It acts by giving a numbing effect to dull the pain. If you use just ice cubes, it could be uncomfortable so using a cooling pack will be more comfortable. One cooling pack I like is here.
If your headache is also accompanied by muscle tension or you have tension-like headaches, then heat will be your friend. Heat packs or even hot showers work by helping to relax your muscles and relieve muscle cramping. Do exercise some caution with the heat, so that you don’t burn yourself. The Headache Foundation recommends 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off.
3. MAGNESIUM/ MAGNESIUM OIL
I’ve written about the benefits of magnesium here, but magnesium and especially when in a migraine episode, is really helpful for relieving tension and pain. It works well for helping you relax to sleep as well. The one I recommend is found here.
4. GREEN SMOOTHIE
So I’ve used a green smoothie as a relief method for some time now. It’s may seem like an unusual remedy but it works. I use a really simple recipe:
- two handfuls of spinach
- about an inch of fresh ginger
- a cup or so of nut-free milk (almond is great because it also contains magnesium)
- a banana (this can be left out if bananas are a trigger for you, I use it for sweetness)
- a handful of berries ( I usually use blueberries, raspberries or blackberries)
Why does it help? Well spinach and almond milk are high in magnesium which can help with tension and inflammation. Ginger which I will discuss more next, is great for migraines and pain in general.
Ginger is a great remedy because it has anti-inflammatory properties. In one study in Denmark women took 500 to 600 milligrams of powdered ginger in water at the first sign of a migraine. Relief came within 30 minutes. After a few days of taking powdered ginger, the women changed to eating the raw form. Fewer migraines were reported and those that did break through were of less intensity. It seems to reduce nausea also for those who suffer from nausea and vomiting.
When you are in the middle of a migraine the last thing you want to do is exercise, but doing some form of gentle stretching can be really helpful in releasing muscle tension that could be contributing to your pain. I usually do some gentle stretching which helps with muscle pain and tension that I generally have in my upper back and neck. It really helps to get as many muscles connected to your head relaxed. Not only does this help with pain but it can help you to sleep which also can help relieve your pain.
7. MASSAGE/ MASSAGE PILLOW
Massage is a great relief when you have migraines. One because of the relaxation of muscle tension and stress but also it can help with regulating hormones, improving circulation and reducing pain at trigger points. In one study twenty-six adults with migraine headaches were randomly assigned to a wait-list control group or to a massage therapy group, who received two 30-minute massages per week for five consecutive weeks. The massage therapy subjects reported fewer distress symptoms, less pain, more headache free days, fewer sleep disturbances, and they showed an increase in serotonin levels. If you can’t get massages on a regular basis, consider getting a massage pillow. This can really help you get similar results at home on the cheap.
You might be thinking…water? How is that going to help? Well often dehydration can cause headaches. Migraineurs often need to drink more water. Even if your headache is not caused by dehydration, if you suffer from nausea and vomiting, you are losing electrolytes and this can cause dehydration. This can make your headache worse. So getting adequate water can really help to lessen pain by keeping you hydrated. If you want to know more about how hydration affects your migraines, Migraine Again has a great free resource that is very informative with great tips to increase your water intake.
9. FEVERFEW LIQUID DROPS
You may have heard of feverfew being used a natural preventative for migraines. I had never heard of it being used as a treatment for acute pain, but an herbologist recommended that I take liquid feverfew as a way of relieving pain when experiencing a migraine. It works! You have to take it when you are first starting to feel a headache coming on. I generally will take half to a full dropper of it directly in my mouth. It’s strong and not very tasty, but it does work effectively. You can also put it into a little bit of water to dilute it a bit as it can be rather strong, especially if it’s an alcohol based liquid feverfew. I’d see if you could find one alcohol free, like this one Feverfew Alcohol-FREE Liquid Extract, Organic Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) Dried Herb Glycerite 2 oz.
Lastly, sleep. Yes, if we can sleep usually it can be a good relief for a migraine. My problem is often that the pain keeps me from sleeping. If that is the case for you, try some of the tips above to relax and reduce tension. Secondly, try creating a calm, dark, quiet environment for you to rest in. Even if you can’t sleep being able to let your body relax can be just as therapeutic.
In the long-term making sure you go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday is a good preventative to migraine headaches. Often people who get ‘weekend’ headaches may find that sleeping in on the weekends could be causing their headaches. So having a good sleep routine and getting enough hours of sleep are key to preventing migraines.
Have you tried any of these methods? Do you have other natural remedies that have helped your migraines? Please comment and share!