Natural Remedies for Migraine Relief

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If you have recurrent migraines, it is worthwhile to consider natural approaches to managing your condition. As you try natural remedies, you can observe your response and decide whether these methods are useful for you.

Not everyone with chronic migraines has the same response to natural remedies. Most people do not experience complete resolution with these simple strategies, some don't experience any improvement at all, and for some migraineurs, natural methods completely prevent or diminish migraines.

Managing Diet and Food Triggers

Certain foods and drinks may trigger your migraines. Dietary triggers tend to differ from person to person, so it isn't practical to eliminate all of the foods and drinks that are known to provoke migraines. It is best to work on finding out which dietary triggers tend to set off your migraines by observing your own migraine patterns.

You can also pinpoint your triggers with an elimination diet.

Using an elimination diet, you can stop consuming just one type of food from your diet and pay attention to changes in your migraine frequency or severity. Although this method may be time-consuming, it is well worth it.

Foods that tend to cause migraines include:

  • Alcohol - The sulfites used in red wine have been linked to migraines. Most types of alcoholic beverages are also dehydrating, a physical state that can provoke a migraine. Besides red wine, whiskey, Scotch, beer, and champagne have also been identified as potential migraine triggers.
  • Aged cheese - Certain types of cheese are reported to be high in tyramine, a chemical that can induce migraines by altering the concentration of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. Blue cheese, brie, cheddar, feta, gorgonzola, parmesan, and swiss are the types of cheese most closely associated with migraines .
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG) - A food additive in soy sauce, soup base, meat tenderizer, and a wide range of packaged or processed foods, MSG is used to enhance flavor. It's also found in restaurant food.
  • Processed Meat - Hot dogs, pepperoni, salami, sausage, and bologna are high in tyramine and nitrates or nitrites, which may dilate blood vessels and trigger migraines in some people.

Other foods that may cause problems include caffeine, chocolate, nuts, vinegar, citrus fruit and juices, and certain fruits, vegetables, and bread products.

Some research suggests that a high-fat diet may be associated with migraines in both men and women and that moderating fat intake may reduce the frequency of migraines and other types of headaches.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are sometimes used for migraines. They can be are inhaled or applied (diluted) in small amounts to the skin and shouldn't be ingested or applied in large amounts. Lavender oil is the essential oil most consistently found to improve migraines.

Other essential oils that may help migraines include rose oil, chamomile oil, and Lippia alba oil, all of which can be obtained from health food stores. These oils have only been studied in small groups of participants, so there are no well-established guidelines for their use. Researchers are investigating how they may work on the body to try to understand the chemical reason for why they may improve migraines.

Pressure Points

For some people who get migraines, acupressure, which is a process of stimulating certain pressure points on the body, may help relieve symptoms. Pressure applied to PC6, an acupressure point on the wrist, can reduce migraine symptoms, especially nausea. Products marketed as "Sea Bands" or acupressure wristbands are used for motion sickness and these products can be used during or before a migraine as well.

Yoga

Practicing yoga may help to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. Regular yoga practice, several times per week, may help prevent migraines for some people and has not been shown to cause migraines. The improvement is related to yoga's effect on the body's cardiovascular system, hormones, and stress reduction.

Yoga is not generally recommended during a migraine, because some positions, including inversions (when you position your head lower than your body), can actually exacerbate a migraine attack.

A Word From Verywell

Natural management of migraines is usually an adjunctive approach that you can use along with over-the-counter or prescription medication. Natural methods of managing your migraines can reduce your need for medication, and can improve your quality of life.

Some methods are best for prevention (such as yoga), while others are best during a headache (acupressure) and some can be used for prevention and during an acute event (essential oils, dietary modification). These natural strategies to migraine management are safe and you can use more than one because they do not cause side effects or interact with each other in a harmful way.

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