Natural Remedies for Migraine Relief

Consider trying these alone or in conjunction with other treatments

If you have chronic migraines, natural self care approaches can help you manage your symptoms when a migraine strikes. What works for someone else may not work for you, so you may need to experiment to find the self care strategy that helps you most.

natural remedies for migraines

Verywell / Emily Roberts

Diet

Use for: Migraine prevention

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. Instead, it's 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. The idea is to stop consuming just one type of food and pay attention to changes in your migraine frequency or severity before considering re-introducing it. Although this method may be time-consuming, many find it well worth it.

Keep in mind that fasting, skipping meals, and dehydration can trigger migraines as well, so it's important not to deprive yourself of nutrients when trying an elimination diet.

Foods and beverages that are commonly reported to trigger migraines include:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeinated drinks
  • Cheese
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits
  • Dairy products
  • Nuts
  • Processed meats
  • White bread

Conversely, several diets have demonstrated beneficial effects for the prevention of migraines. In particular, ketogenic and modified Atkins diets may help by increasing serotonin production and reducing inflammation in the brain. Diets that are high-folate, low-sodium, and rich with omega-3 fatty acids, such as the Mediterranean diet, have also been mentioned in studies.

Essential Oils

Use for: Migraine prevention and treatment

Researchers believe that some essential oils have anti-inflammatory, antihypertensive, analgesic (pain relieving), and mood-stabilizing properties that may be useful for migraine prevention and treatment. The most closely studied essential oils for this purpose include:

  • Lavender: In one study, headache severity was significantly reduced in almost 71% of study participants who inhaled lavender oil for 15 minutes.
  • Basil: Basil oil was shown to be effective in reducing the pain and frequency of migraines when applied topically every eight hours for three subsequent months.
  • Peppermint: Diluted peppermint oil was more effective than lidocaine in reducing migraine pain after just five minutes of administering the oil nasally. Participants also reported improvements in their abilities to carry out daily activities.

Because of their low toxicity profile, essential oils are considered to be a safe and cost-effective alternative treatment when used properly. They can be inhaled, added to a bath, or applied to the skin in small, diluted amounts.

Not all essential oils on the market are recognized as food additives by the FDA. Many are considered cosmetic products, which means they are not regulated and should not be ingested—regardless of what the packaging says. In 2020, the FDA released a list of essential oils and natural extracts that are generally recognized as safe for consumption when used as intended. The list includes:

  • Basil
  • Bergamot
  • Citronella
  • Dandelion root
  • Jasmine
  • Juniper
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Saffron

Acupressure

Use for: Migraine treatment

For some people who get migraines, acupressure—a process of stimulating certain pressure points on the body—may help relieve gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea. The most effective acupressure point for migraine symptom relief is considered to be the PC6 pressure point, which is located on the inner forearm, approximately three finger widths below the wrist.

Products marketed as "Sea Bands" or acupressure wristbands are used for motion sickness and can also be used during or before a migraine attack. To test how well they work, 40 women were asked to wear sea bands on both of their wrists as soon as they felt a migraine attack beginning. After 120 minutes, 71.8% of participants noticed a significant reduction in nausea. After 240 minutes, that percentage increased to 84.3%.

Researchers believe that acupressure relieves nausea by stimulating the release of endorphins and serotonin, thereby restoring homeostasis in the central nervous system.

Yoga

Use for: Migraine prevention

The therapeutic effects of yoga for improving psychological wellbeing and cardiovascular health are well documented. Researchers also believe that regular yoga practice may help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines in some people by stabilizing the sympathetic nervous system and reducing the release of stress hormones.

In one study, 30 participants practiced yoga five days per week and also received conventional migraine treatment, while another 30 participants received only conventional care. Each yoga session lasted one hour and consisted of stretching, breathing exercises, and common yoga asanas or postures. The participants were also asked to monitor their headache intensity and frequency in a diary.

After six weeks, all participants who practiced yoga reported significant improvements in migraine frequency and pain intensity. Meanwhile, just 73.3% of participants who only received conventional care noticed improvements. Researchers also found that those who practiced yoga had decreased sympathetic nervous system drive and enhanced vagal tone, meaning that their bodies were less vulnerable to the inflammatory effects of stress.

Since aerobic exercise can trigger migraines in some people, it's important to take your yoga workout slow and practice mindfulness. If you find that yoga increases your pain, don't push yourself. Yoga is most effective when it alleviates stress and enhances your mood.

meditation for migraine prevention

Emily Roberts / Verywell

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 or even natural remedies. Natural methods of managing your migraines can reduce your need for medication and improve your quality of life.

These natural strategies for 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.

Note: While migraine herbal remedies may be natural, they can come with side effects and drug interaction concerns. Speak with your healthcare provider before trying any such supplements.

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