If you’ve ever had a migraine, you know it is ten times worse than just having a headache. It affects so much more in your body and brain. Migraines can affect your vision, your thinking, your balance and your appetite. They can cause you to forget words and names, cause vomiting and nausea, and can make you feel exhausted for days, And of course, they can be the worst headache of your life. Put all those things into once event, and you are sure to be looking for migraine remedies. I started having migraines at age 10, but didn’t know what they were until my 40’s. By then, they had become much more frequent and severe. While I have tried some prescription medications, I worry about the long term affects of them. Here are the home remedies for migraines that I have tried, the ones that worked, and the most promising ones for the future.
HOME REMEDIES FOR MIGRAINES
WHAT IS A MIGRAINE
According to the most recent scientific research by the Mayo Clinic, Migraine.com and WebMd and more, migraines are not just headaches. They are a complex neurological disorder that has been long misunderstood, and its’ sufferers also misunderstood. For many years, migraine sufferers were treated as if they were just a little bit crazy. Hearing comments like “It’s just headache, get over it”… or, “Are you sure you aren’t just feeling sorry for yourself”? Or worse… Or simply, sufferers would experience lack of compassion from loving people who simply didn’t understand what they were going through. If you are jumping up and down right now screaming “YES!’… then you are reading the right article.
It used to be believed that a migraine was simple… a severe headache, mainly on one side, accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light. And no doubt, those symptoms suck. But they are now finding so many variations with migraine symptoms as researchers come to understand this is a neurological condition that affects every part of the body. Here are the typical stages of many migraines.
The migraine pro-dome phase is the hours or days leading up to an attack that can give you warning. This can help you to get on top of your symptoms, and use home remedies for migraines to lessen the severity, or even head off the attack. Typical symptoms vary for each person, but can include:
- Mood Changes
- Food Cravings
The next stage of a migraine is called the “aura” and only affects about 20% of sufferers. I happen to be one of them. In fact for me, it is my most intense part of my migraine. Symptoms of migraine aura include, (courtesy of the ‘Mayo Clinic’):
- Visual phenomena, such as seeing various shapes, bright spots or flashes of light
- Vision loss
- Pins and needles sensations in an arm or leg
- Weakness or numbness in the face or one side of the body
- Difficulty speaking
- Hearing noises or music
- Uncontrollable jerking or other movements
I want to note that there is a type of migraine attack where you experience aura, but little or no headache. This can look similar to a stroke, so if you aren’t familiar with your aura phase or you have never had aura before and you have these symptoms, seek medical advice or attention. Fun fact: The first time it happens to you, you may indeed feel panic that you are having a stroke, especially if you are having mental difficulty remembering words, seeing spots or lines, or slurring your words. Lots of fun, and in fact, the stress makes the migraine worse in the end. The good news is that aura doesn’t usually last more than 20 minutes to an hour at most. Mine are almost exactly 15-20 minutes each and every time.
For migraine sufferers who experience severe head pain, this is the worst stage. Head pain in some individuals can be so severe they cannot function. This stage can last from 4-72 hours, and in rare cases even longer. Nausea and even vomiting can occur. Your eyes may become so sensitive to light you cannot go outdoors. Basically, you want to crawl under a blanket and (try) to sleep it away.
Ok, this is the part no one gives you credit for. The crappy way you feel for several days after a migraine. People who have never experienced migraines figure (and understandably so) that if the pain is gone, why are you still acting ill? Post-dome symptoms can include:
- Sensitivity to light
Again, these symptoms are beyond your control, as they are neurological, not emotional. And remember, this is a great time to continue to use home or natural remedies for migraines. Gentle therapies are a great way to help your body and system reacclimatize after an episode. A side note, now that we have gone through what a migraine feels like, check out the ‘Mayo Clinic‘ recommendations on when to see a doctor if you have migraine type pain.
REMEDIES FOR MIGRAINES
Ok, so here comes the best part. I do not intend to suggest that everyone can use home remedies for migraines. There are people with a severe enough form of this condition to require prescription medications and treatments. But if you are new to migraines, or if you just want to try a more natural migraine remedy, then check out these migraine treatments that can be tried at home.
NATURAL REMEDIES FOR MIGRAINE
I do use some natural remedies for migraines that are really helpful.
Magnesium is a necessary mineral that affects relaxation of muscles and nerves. It is used in every part of your body, and there is evidence that we need more of it than we think. I am a big fan of magnesium supplementation and there is research to show that it can help with migraines. The trouble is, you can’t just take it during the event. Magnesium levels must be kept up daily to help cut down on the number and severity of attacks. We get ALL our herbs and supplements at ‘IHerb‘. Because there is so much controversy about how magnesium is absorbed into your body, I take two different forms. First I take 400MG a day of “Doctors Best High Absorption Magnesium“. Then right before bed each might, I take 300MG of “Trace Minerals Mega-Mag“. Ok, I’ll be honest with you. This last one is in liquid form and it tastes awful. But if you put it in just enough apple juice, it slides down ok. The best thing I love about this liquid form is that is helps me sleep well. Like, better than any OTC sleep aid I ever tried. I really feel the liquid form of this magnesium is absorbed into the body easier, hence the good sleep.
Read the book, “The Magnesium Miracle“. While I don’t agree with every word in it, the basis of this book is changing my life. (I’m a skeptic, so I don’t take every word in ANY book as truth until I have researched and verified it.)
This anti inflammatory supplement is being used in studies for everything from Alzheimers to, well you guessed it, migraines. We use the “Longvida” variety, which is the same type used in a ‘UCLA Medical study’ supporting its use for Alzheimers and memory patients. It’s a natural anti inflammatory, and we believe in it as a long term supplement for good neurological health. We use “Now Foods CurcuBrain“.
PEPPERMINT OR LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OILS
Ok, before you “pooh, pooh” this as new age nonsense, and a useless remedy for migraines, listen to this. A clinical trial published by the ‘National Institutes of Health’ states that lavender oil applied topically is effective and safe in helping the symptoms of migraine. Not only do I apply it to my temples during a migraine, I also put a drop at each end of my pillow case every night to help both prevent migraines and headaches, and to help me sleep. (Which is also important with migraine prevention!) I have tried the trendy DoTerra and Aura Cacia brands, but they all smell just a little bit different. Find one that you love. I love “Now Foods Lavender Oil”.
Yep, ginger tea. Why? Not only is a natural anti inflammatory, it’s a miracle worker with nausea. Sip “Yogi” ginger tea as soon as you see symptoms arriving. Don’t wait to start vomiting.
Yoga done several times a week not only helps with stress levels, a known migraine trigger, but also help develop your core to reduce back and neck pain, another known trigger. I do Yoga a few time a week. I admit it, I don’t go to classes, I am just too busy writing posts like these! 😉 But I can recommend a series on Amazon Prime Video called “Yoga Therapy with Lindsey Samper” that is perfect for both beginners, and back pain sufferers. I use those classes regularly! Check out our post on Easy Yoga Poses for Beginners.
MEDITATION & DEEP BREATHING
This has been a lifesaver for me. Mindfulness has become a mainstream form of psychological therapy, and it is really effective remedy for migraines, or at least to make it tolerable. Aside from the fact that both these techniques help relieve stress and relax the body, they also change your brain chemicals. Since it is a fact that migraines are accompanied by a drop in serotonin in the brain (the feel good chemical) and that mediation and deep breathing help increase brain chemicals that are conducive to serotonin, it makes sense. And it doesn’t have to be complicated. Close your eyes, and concentrate on your breathing. Then breathe in to the count of 4, hold your breath for the count of 4, and release to the count of 8. It only takes 4-5 minutes of meditation and deep breathing to change your brain chemistry. What I use for all my meditation is an app called ‘Calm‘. Love. This. App. I have been using it for over 3 years now, and it has made a big difference in my life both for migraines, and also for emotional health. I recommend it strongly. Oh, and try the “Deep Sleep Release” meditation right before bed. Maybe I should also mention, this app is on the top list for stress and emotional health of some of the largest health magazines and websites in the world. It’s that good.
MIGRAINE TREATMENT WITH OVER THE COUNTER MEDICINE
So one of the best things about getting a pro-dome phase before your headache is that you know what is coming. You can take measures now to use remedies for migraines that can help head off the pain. There are many OTC migraine medicines available at your local pharmacy or drug store. Talk to your doctor about what might work for you. I take what I call “The Cocktail”. This is actually prescribed by many dentists before they try prescription pain killers. According to “Wed MD‘, research shows that a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen is as effective as an opioid painkiller. The trick with this is to start it before the head pain starts.
WHEN HOME REMEDIES FOR MIGRAINES DON’T WORK FOR YOU
This is the time to visit your doctor to discuss all the options available to you. Not all of them are prescription medications, either. Botox, an electrical stimulation device called Cefaly, Tens electrical stimulation devices, and new natural therapies for migraine are now available as well. Don’t give up if these home remedies for migraines don’t work for you. Try another, try a combination of several, or try a small dose of a prescription medication combined with natural therapies. Everyone is different, and everyone’s migraines are different too!
Ok, here we are reminding everyone that while we did our research for this article, we are not doctors. Please make sure you use due care when choosing medical treatments. All the information provided on our blog is for entertainment purposes only and we are not providing medical advice. You can see our full disclosure here. Ok, legal mumbo jumbo over. 🙂
Article written by Kathy Bates for Oh Me Oh My Blog