When a migraine strikes, anything is worth trying to make the debilitating pain go away. Migraines are not your typical headaches. It begins as a dull ache that spreads and changes to a throbbing pain. It is often accompanied by sensitivity to noise, light, and smells, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness, all of which can last between 4 to 72 hours. Daily occurrences like stress, caffeine, changes in weather, or a change in sleep habits can cause migraines. Natural remedies are easy, at-home, drug-free treatments to relieve symptoms and reduce migraine duration.
Acupressure: Also known as Shiatsu, acupressure takes root in traditional Chinese medicine. The goal is to restore balance to the body’s energy channels and regulate the forces of negative and positive energy (yin and yang). Pressure is applied to specific acupoints on the meridians of the body with the fingers, palms, or elbows. This can relieve pain, migraine-associated nausea, and other symptoms.
Lavender Oil: Inhaling lavender essential oil is an effective and safe treatment to manage migraines. Add a few drops to a bowl of warm water and breathe. It is also effective to rub lavender lotion on the base of the neck, forehead, and temples. This is shown to provide faster relief to migraine symptoms and shortens its duration.
Ginger: Ginger has many migraine benefits with no negative side-effects or consequences. It can reduce the duration and severity of most symptoms that accompany migraines. Ginger is comparable to sumatriptan in fighting migraines and reduces nausea and vomiting.
Yoga: Yoga is an ancient ascetic discipline originating from India. It uses breathing techniques, meditation, and body posture to improve health, happiness, and overall well being. Yoga has been shown to reduce and release built up tension in migraine-trigger point of the body and reduce stress and anxiety. Yoga is best used in addition to other natural migraine remedies.
Cold Compress: Cold compresses constrict blood vessels which help reduce the neurotransmission of pain to the brain. Placing a cold compress (you can also use ice cubes wrapped in a towel or a bag of frozen peas in lieu of a compress) on your forehead or neck for 15 minute increments significantly reduces migraine pain. It also reduces inflammation in the brain, reducing migraine duration.
Magnesium: Magnesium, a mineral easily found in nuts, dark chocolate, and leafy greens, plays a vital role in migraine pathogenesis. Studies show that magnesium deficiency is the most common cause of migraines. When the body is low on magnesium the brain starts functioning on hyperdrive with neurotransmitter release, hyperaggregation of platelets, and other major elements of migraine development. Taking a magnesium supplement within one hour after the start of a migraine is an effective solution to reduce pain and duration.
Massage: Effective massages involve intentional kneading, rubbing, and pressing on specific areas of the body to reduce muscle tension and provide pain relief. Massages are shown to promote blood circulation, decrease levels of cortisol (stress hormone) while increasing endorphin levels, and release serotonin which plays a major role in relieving migraine pain.
Peppermint Oil: Peppermint oil is one of the top used essential oils for the treatment of headaches and migraines. Menthol, a main component of the oil, relaxes tension in muscles and eases pain. Applying small amounts of diluted peppermint oil to the temples and forehead greatly reduces migraine-associated pain, light sensitivity, and acute nausea.
Cupping Therapy: Cupping is an ancient alternative medical treatment used as far back as 1550 BCE by the ancient Egyptians. The negative pressure that is provided by cupping therapy loosens muscle tension, promotes blood flow, and sedates the nervous system. It is an effective means to relieve migraine pain and duration.
Sleep: Though difficult to achieve while in the midst of a migraine strike, sleep is one of the top methods to terminate a migraine. Sleep deprivation is one of the major triggers for migraine attacks. Good sleep habits reduce not only the intensity of migraines, but also the number. Avoiding caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, setting a schedule of when to go to bed and get up in the mornings, keeping the bedroom dark and quiet, and avoiding TV and other screen usage in bed will improve sleep habits.