Natural Home Remedies For Migraine Headaches
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Migraine, a primary headache disorder that mostly begins at puberty, is the third most common disease worldwide after dental cavities and tension-type headaches. It is more prevalent than the combined cases of asthma, diabetes, and epilepsy (1).
Migraine is a recurrent condition that aggravates out of nowhere and can paralyze you from your routine work.
It is associated with symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and a person may show sensitivity to light and/or sound – a symptom termed as aura – depending upon the intensity and type of migraine.
Migraines are so common that each year the entire month of June is observed as Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. The aim is to advocate for the recognition of migraine and its treatment. The theme for June, 2018 is “You Are Not Alone.”
You’d be surprised to know that globally one in every seven persons is affected by migraine – women suffering twice as men (2).
If you often experience severe, one-sided, pulsating pain with or without nausea– a typical representation of migraine attack – know that 37 million other people can relate to your experience.
This article will take you through some natural remedies to prevent and manage migraine attacks. But first, let’s go through the cause behind this debilitating headache.
Causes of Migraine
The exact cause of migraine is unidentified to date, but people with migraine are said to have a family history and there is a genetic component to it.
It is believed that migraine may have a hormonal cause owing to its predominance in females. For some people, there are certain triggering factors that may start an episode of this type of headache.
Triggering factors may include stress, certain foods like chocolates or cheese, exposure to glare, and computer screens.
Home Remedies for Migraine
Now that you have a good background knowledge of the prevalence, causes, and presentation of migraine, let’s take you through some home remedies that will help reduce the occurrence and intensity of migraine attacks.
1. Avoid foods that trigger migraine.
Migraine can be controlled if you avoid certain trigger factors including some foods. They may include chocolates, cheese, pickles, foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG), and foods containing nitrates like hot dogs, sausages and deli meats.
A National Institute of Health (NIH) study cited that 12-60% of patients reported foods as a trigger (3). Most reported food factors were alcohol, cheese and chocolate.
2. Opt for migraine friendly foods.
Foods that have omega-3 in them may help you with episodes of migraine. Rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids include nuts, seeds and fish like salmon and sardines.
Similarly, magnesium rich foods like dates, spinach, almonds, bananas, yogurt, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, peanut butter, cashew and figs may also help prevent new episodes of migraine headaches.
You’d also want to try foods containing Vitamin-B2 since research considers it an interesting option for the prophylaxis of migraine (4). Go for green leafy vegetable, beans, nuts and seeds for more vitamin B2.
3. Try Ginger
Research says that ginger, especially ginger powder, is known to reduce the duration and severity of migraine. It also provides relief from nausea associated with migraine (5).
Once you start feeling the onset of migraine, consume ginger tea or you can also chew on a small piece of ginger to relieve symptoms of nausea.
4. Avoid caffeinated beverages
Research shows that discontinuation of caffeinated beverage in some people improved the response towards migraine treatment (6).
5. Go for Butterbur
Butterbur is a flowering plant that comes from the family of sunflower. Researchers believe that using the extract of this plant is helpful for some people to reduce the occurrence and severity of migraine (7).
6. Feverfew may help
It is a flower bearing herb. Some individuals have experienced that feverfew reduces symptoms of migraine-like headache and nausea.
7. Try essential oils
Essential oils are known to have a lot of benefits like reducing stress, releasing muscle tension, relieving pain and improved blood flow. Try applying these few essentials oils for your migraine as they help reduce the severity and intensity of the headache.
Lavender oil helps reduce stress and anxiety, makes you sleep better and is a natural antidepressant. It may be applied to the forehead and temple area or can be inhaled. Add 2 drops of lavender oil to 2 cups of boiling water and inhale the steam.
In a placebo-controlled trial for identifying the effects of lavender essential oil in the treatment of migraine headaches, it was seen that inhalation of lavender oil is an effective and safe home remedy to manage acute migraine headaches (8).
Peppermint oil helps lower the pain and inflammation and improves blood flow to the area applied.
Applying this essential oil to your forehead and temple area helps to reduce the symptoms. A research study shows that menthol in peppermint oil can prevent the occurrence of migraine (9).
Other helpful oils include eucalyptus, rosemary and frankincense oil.
8. Acupressure and Acupuncture:
Acupressure is a method of applying pressure at certain points on the body with the help of your fingers and hands.
It is considered to relieve pain and reduce nausea associated with migraine (10, 11). Whereas, acupuncture is a healing technique that involves inserting acupuncture needles at specific points on your body to reduce pain.
It helps to lessen the number and severity of migraine attacks over a period of time (12).
9. Know your triggers
You are better aware of the factors from your surroundings that cause your migraine to initiate. This could be anything from stress, lack of sleep, overwork, certain foods, over exposure to particular sounds and light or changes in weather.
Once you know your personal triggers, you can control the happening of a possible migraine by overcoming or avoiding those triggers. Here are some ideas:
Lack of sleep may initiate migraine. Try to sleep well, complete the required sleeping hours, and maintain your sleeping pattern.
Once you have slept well, your body will automatically feel and work better since sleep helps improving body function. Make sure to avoid oversleeping as it tends to make you lazy and tired and may actually trigger a migraine episode.
Try stress relievers like some natural oils that are known to reduce stress, morning walks out in nature, reading a book, meditation, exercise or getting a stress relieving massage.
Identify which kind of light and sound triggers an episode. Accordingly avoid those. If gadgets like laptops, smartphones or TV increases your chance of a migraine, reduce your screen time.
Wear sunglasses while going out to avoid glare. Limit yourself from places and situations that are overly noisy.
10. Apple Cider Vinegar (ASV)
Apple cider vinegar is known for nutritional benefits. Mix one tablespoon of ASV and one tablespoon of honey in a glass of water and consume it daily. This tonic may to be effective in preventing migraine as well as treating them.
11. Use ice packs for cooling effect
Placing an ice pack on the back of your neck will improve the symptoms of headache. It is because a cold stimulus is thought to reduce the signs of inflammation.
Yoga involves certain postures, meditation and some breathing exercises that help you relax, calm down, make your mind more focused and reduce the muscle tension. Regular yoga can help prevent migraines by reducing stress levels.
13. Try moving to a quiet and dark room
Since excessive light and loud sounds may exaggerate migraine, try to find a quiet dark room and have some sleep as it helps recover from the episode of migraine quickly.
14. Maintain a Migraine journal
Maintaining a migraine journal/diary will help you track your personal triggers and stimuli. Jot down all the remedies and measures that help reduce its occurrence and those that helped with speedy recovery.
Keeping a record will help you monitor the frequency and number of migraine attacks and you’ll be able to take necessary measures in future.
We mentioned a few natural and home remedies that can reduce the frequency of migraine episodes as well as speed up the recovery once the attack is ongoing.
Know that these remedies are natural and have few side effects on your body if properly followed and not overly done. However, always consult with your physician before stopping or changing your prescribed course of treatment and medication.
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