Migraines are a neurological syndrome that affects nearly 12% of the population regularly. Migraines are 3 times more common in women than men. One in four households in America has a member with migraine. Even children can get them. In most cases, the migraine headache affects one side of the head with pulsating pain that lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
Migraines are often so debilitating the sufferer is bedridden with nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Drugs that reduce the severity or eliminate migraines have serious potential side effects. Some natural remedies for migraines have a better success rate, without the health risks. As with any other health issue, when someone suffers from a migraine the body is saying that something is wrong. Anyone who regularly suffers from migraines is not healthy.
Causes or Triggers of Migraines
Fluorescent light bulbs, coffee, dehydration, sugar, smoking, MSG, prescription drugs including blood pressure medication and oral contraceptives, lack of sunlight (vitamin D), molds, artificial food additives (preservatives and colorings), mineral imbalances, food allergies, vitamin B deficiencies, and alcohol abuse can all trigger migraines. Typically, migraines are caused by multiple “triggers” and obviously, every one of these should be addressed to eliminate migraines (or to live a healthier lifestyle). Foods high in tyramine such as aged cheeses, nuts, soy, chocolate, processed meats, wheat, and many processed foods can trigger migraines as well. Hypoglycemia may also cause migraines. There are many natural migraine remedies including herbs, supplements, acupuncture, acupressure, reflexology to name a few.
Aromatherapy – Essential oils for Migraines
Peppermint, sandalwood, basil, lavender, eucalyptus, and rosemary essential oils can be used to treat migraines. Lavender and peppermint are the most highly recommended. One way to treat a migraine is to put 5 to 10 drops of lavender or peppermint essential oil in a cup of warm water, soak a wash cloth in the water, wring it out, and apply it to the head or the back of the neck. Another method is to dilute a few drops of lavender or peppermint oil into a carrier oil (almond oil is a good choice) and massage it into the head at the back of the neck, the temples, and the forehead.
Deep Breathing and Relaxation
It makes sense to accompany all of the natural migraine remedies with deep breathing and relaxation techniques. Learning how to breathe is an important and all too uncommon skill that should be acquired by everyone. Infants breathe right, but for some reason (perhaps stress), adults breathe in a very shallow manner. Learning how to breathe properly is a bit strange at first, but will quickly become second nature, as it should be. To learn how to breathe correctly, see our How to Breathe article in this issue.
Herbal Remedies for Migraines – Feverfew and Ginger
Feverfew is an herb that is used to naturally treat migraines. Feverfew is effective at preventing migraines, not stopping them once they have started. Eat three to four leaves every day. The herb is bitter but mixing it with food is fine. Parthenolide, the plant’s active ingredient, inhibits the chemicals in the brain that cause the blood vessels to dilate.
Ginger is nothing short of miraculous when it comes to stopping a migraine in its tracks. Take ginger (fresh juice is best) at the first sign of an impending attack (during an aura or if you don’t get auras, at the sign of pain).
You can juice fresh ginger root and drink it as a shot or add it to fruit juice (carrot and apple combined is good with ginger). You can also take ginger in a variety of forms–but fresh ginger root is likely to be the most bio-available form.
Ginger helps with nausea as well if the migraine is already in progress.
In Alternative Medicine, The Definitive Guide, Dr. Ravins recommends the following technique:
Put your thumb in your mouth on the side of the migraine pain; reach up with it and find the cheekbone, then press that bone up and out. Then do the same with the other side. Finally, place both thumbs inside on the upper palate and press the sides out. It may take several repetitions before the pain subsides.”
Hot and Cold Hydrotherapy
Contrast showers can sometimes alleviate migraine pain. Hot & Cold Hydrotherapy may alleviate an oncoming migraine, but it is most likely to work as a preemptive measure.
Celery juice is rich in coumarins, substances that have a soothing effect on the vascular system of the brain. Eight ounces of celery juice works best as a preventative. You many drink it straight or mixed with other juices. It can also soothe a migraine, but is generally slow to do so. Ginger juice can stop a migraine right in its tracks. Try juicing fresh ginger root , apples, and carrots together. Make sure the ginger is as strong as the palate can handle. This remedy is best when used within the first few minutes of the onset of a migraine. It doesn’t take a genius to see that combining celery and ginger juice together could be a pretty potent remedy. We at OLM have never tried this method, so if any of our readers try it, please let us know how it works.
Chiropractic and Acupressure
Massage the acupressure points, Gallbladder 20, which are located on each side of the back of the neck, two inches out from the middle, just underneath the base of the skull. Massaging these points can relieve migraine and tension headache pain. It’s not easy to properly message these points yourself, but it is possible. When the neck is out of alignment, headaches are common. A chiropractic adjustment typically provides immediate relief. Unfortunately, the relief may be temporary as the neck can quickly go back out of alignment for the same reason it went out in the first place. A common cause of misalignment in this area is the use of stimulants such as nicotine and caffeine. These stimulants strain both the Hypothalamus and the Cerebellum, which swell and cause misalignment of the neck. When the neck is out of alignment, nerves become pinched and energy becomes inhibited, which can lead to migraines. Not chewing food well enough and/or not digesting meat properly, thereby putting a strain on the gallbladder, can also cause the upper area of the neck to inflame and go out of alignment.
Reflexology to Treat Migraines
Reflexology uses massage techniques on the hands and feet at various acupressure points to relieve symptoms. Before attempting reflexology for migraines, it helps to soak the hands and feet for a few minutes. Relaxation is also important. A bath will help to do both.