Migraines are severe, recurring, and painful headaches that can last for hours or even days. Sometimes they can be accompanied by sensory warning signs and other symptoms like distorted vision or temporary loss of vision.
According to Statistics Canada, migraines have been diagnosed in about 8% of Canadians, a quarter or more of whom say their severe headaches impact day-to-day life such as getting a good night’s sleep or driving.
1. Adjust your diet
Many foods and beverages are known migraine triggers, such as:
A small amount of caffeine may ease migraine pain in some people. However, too much caffeine may worse a migraine and lead to severe caffeine withdrawal headaches.
Pro tip: keep a journal of everything you eat and how you feel afterwards.
2. Apply lavender oil
According to a 2012 clinical study, people who inhaled lavender oil during a migraine attack for 15 minutes experienced faster relief than those who inhaled a placebo. Lavender oil can also be applied externally to the temple.
But lavender oil can do much more than relief headache pains. Researchers in a 2015 study found that lavender essential oil can be used to help treat pain and any problems associated with inflammation. The study concluded that lavender, when applied topically, provided pain relief comparable to that of tramadol, a prescription medication.
Acupressure is the practice of sending signals to the body through pressure with the fingers and hands to relieve pain and other symptoms. According to a 2014 systematic review, acupressure is a credible alternative therapy for people suffering from chronic headaches and other similar conditions. A separate study found acupressure may help relieve migraine-associated nausea.
Other symptoms that acupressure alleviates include:
4. Apply Feverfew Topically
Feverfew is a flowering herb that looks like a daisy. It’s an old folk remedy for migraines. In modern times, it is believed that a substance in feverfew called parthenolide may help prevent migraines by reducing inflammation or stopping the aggregation of platelets. However, according to a 2012 and 2016 review, there’s not enough evidence to recommend feverfew for migraine prevention. Still, many people claim it helps their migraine symptoms.
Feverfew is available as fluid extracts or tinctures, for topical application.
As feverfew is similar to aspirin and ibruprofen, it is probably best not to take both at the same time. Side effects reported include nausea, anxiety and insomnia. In serious cases, users have reported mouth ulcers and minor skin irritations after ingesting feverfew.
5. Apply Peppermint Oil
According to a study in 2010, the menthol in peppermint oil may prevent or reduce the symptoms of migraines. The study found that applying a menthol solution to the forehead and temples was more effective than placebo for migraine-associated pain, nausea, and light sensitivity.
6. Use Ginger
Ginger is known for easing nausea caused by many conditions including migraines. It may also have other migraine benefits. According to research, ginger powder decreased migraine severity and duration. Findings also suggest that ginger’s effectiveness is statistically comparable to the prescription drug sumatriptan, and with a better side effect profile.
7. Sign up for yoga
Yoga is a physical meditation practice that many use to manage pain naturally. Research shows it may relieve the frequency, duration, and intensity of migraines. Although more studies have to be conducted, yoga is thought to improve anxiety, release tension in migraine-trigger areas, and improve vascular health.
Studies have also shown that practicing yoga may also relieve pain related to stress or anxiety. For example, a 2013 study found that yoga may improve lower back pain.
Biofeedback is a relaxation method. It teaches you to control bodily reactions to stress such as muscle tensing. During biofeedback, you're connected to electrical sensors that help you receive information about your body.
This feedback helps you make subtle changes in your body, such as reducing migraines triggered by your body’s physical reactions to stress.
9. Add Magnesium
Magnesium deficiency is linked to the cortical spreading of depression (the physical mechanism of migraine in the brain), cause blood vessels to constrict, affect serotonin (a key molecule related to Migraine), and influence a variety of neurotransmitters. Studies show magnesium oxide supplements help prevent migraines, including menstrual-related migraines.
You can get magnesium from foods that include:
10. Book a Massage
In general, massage therapy increases endorphins and stimulates the Para-Sympathetic Nervous system, therefore promoting relaxation. A massage can also increase blood flow in areas that might be ischemic (lacking blood flow) and therefore help relieve migraine pains.
In multiple studies, massage therapy was shown to decrease the frequency and the duration of migraines. Studies have also shown that massage therapy can help decrease pain in the neck area by relaxing areas that contain hyper-irritable tissue that are very tender.
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