overcoming-migraines-5-natural-treatments-that-work

Overcoming Migraines: 5 Natural Treatments That Work!

Megan Essential Oils & Supplements, Healing Diets 36 Comments

My daughter’s had migraine headaches for years. And she’s only 14. I have other relatives who’ve lived with them for years, with no relief except for from strong pharmaceuticals (read: side effects). My daughter’s migraines went away, for the most part, when we discovered she was intolerant to dairy. With removing this food group, she rarely gets them anymore. But occasionally, with change in atmospheric pressure, or waking too quickly before the sun is up, she’ll get one. I finally buckled down to get at the heart of them- their most frequent causes and the best solutions out there. This post is a sort of round-up of the best natural treatments I’ve read about for migraines. I hope they’ll help you, if it’s something you struggle with, too.

I am not a doctor.
Please consult a functional medical practitioner or naturopathic doctor before starting any new healthcare regimen. This post contains affiliate links.

What are migraines?

Migraines are thought to be caused by the dilation, or expansion, of cranial blood vessels.

Possible Triggers

What causes migraines? The word that’s used to describe their causal factor is trigger. Here are the most common migraine triggers: certain medications, tannins, caffeine, stress, hormone changes, food intolerances, waking up too quickly outside of one’s circadian rhythm (before the sun), too much light or sun, excessive exposure to TV or noise, changes in weather and atmospheric pressure, exercise and dehydration, allergies, lack of sleep, too much sleep, anxiety, a viral infection.

Triggers may take a full 24 hours to manifest themselves into a migraine headache, which makes their cause a bit harder to track. But being aware of new foods or changes that may have occurred in the last day help to isolate the cause.

TREATMENTS

What’s the cause of your migraines? Sometimes the best way to determine the cause is to try gentle treatments. Which treatment works may tell you what your body was lacking.

1. B-2 (Riboflavin)

400 mg. of Vitamin B-2 (considered a high dose) is now commonly being prescribed for migraine prevention, or for reducing the frequency with which a patient suffers migraines. Increasing riboflavin-rich foods within one’s diet is also a good strategy: dairy, eggs, poultry, seafood, meat and leafy greens.

Many patients testify complete relief from migraines with 400 mg. daily supplementation. This is one of the easier approaches to try.

2. Red Raspberry Leaf

For those migraines triggered by hormonal changes, red raspberry leaf is excellent at balancing hormone levels. Not brewing it too raspberry_leaf-for migrainesstrong may benefit those who are also affected by tannins.

To Make the Tea

It is beneficial to combine red raspberry leaf with other herbs that help it to assimilate. Peppermint leaf is great for flavor and for circulation. Alfalfa leaf compensates for malnutrition and facilitates the absorption of other herbs. Use raspberry leaf alone or combine the three. Make a big batch for the fridge so you can drink it throughout the day or brew it by the cup. One woman who found this method helpful drank 1 quart daily and found herself with zero migraines as a result. When she stopped consuming the tea daily, the migraines returned.

To Use the Tincture

This is what I’ve been doing lately (for general hormone balancing). It’s just easier during certain phases of life to use the tincture. Tea making/drinking is pretty simple, but the tincture is a great alternative when the tea doesn’t happen. I take one dropperful each morning for general hormone balancing and whenever I feel a headache beginning. This morning I felt a headache coming on, drank 6 ounces of water with one dropperful of red raspberry leaf and the headache was gone within minutes.

3. Magnesium

An estimated 50% of migraine sufferers have reduced levels of magnesium during an acute migraine attack. The concentration of magnesium in one’s body affects neurotransmitters and receptors, as well as the body’s ability to synthesize and release nitric oxide (which affects the dilation of cranial blood vessels). Low levels of magnesium also speak to a methylation deficiency.

400-600 mg. of magnesium daily, in divided doses, is recommended to abate headaches that are brought on due to magnesium deficiency. Topically applied magnesium is the most bio-available. This is my favorite spray. I put it on twice daily and it does not leave the sticky residue that some oils leave. Here’s more information on the dosage provided by magnesium oils and salts.

overcoming-migraines-5-natural-treatments-that-work

freeimages.com/arielcamilo

4. Low Tyramine, Histamine, Arginine Diet

Many who suffer from migraines will do well to temporarily eliminate the following amino acids. Patients are often sensitive to two of the following three.

Tyramines

A certain function in the liver and intestines may be compromised in those who have low tyramine-triggered migraines. Normally tyramines, amino-acid derivatives, are inactivated by an enzyme called MAO. When this does not occur tyramines can become excessive and trigger migraines. Eliminating foods (for 30-60 days) that contain tyramines is a good way to determine if this could be the cause of migraines in your body.

Tyramine foods are as follows: aged cheeses, smoked or preserved fish, cured meats, certain beers (especially those on tap), red wine, sauerkraut and other fermented foods, soy sauce, miso, broad beans, yeast extract, grapes, dried fruits with sulfur dioxide, and OTC cold and cough medicines.

Taking an encapsulated probiotic is a good idea if you eliminate all fermented foods for a trial period, so your body doesn’t go without probiotics.

Histamines

Histamines occur in foods due to a natural microbial fermentation. Some high-histamine foods overlap with foods that contain tyramines. Again, patients with histamine intolerance have too little of certain enzymes that should break down histamine, allowing histamines to become excessive in the body. Some people supplement with DAO, one of the enzymes that may be missing that helps to metabolize histamines, in addition to reducing high-histamine foods in their diet.

The following high histamine foods can be avoided to determine if you have a histamine sensitivity: aged cheeses, alcohol, vinegar, mustard, ketchup, aged/smoked meats, shellfish, frozen fish, sauerkraut and other fermented foods, bone broth, leftovers, certain fruits (citrus, bananas, strawberries, red prunes, pears, kiwi, raspberries, papaya), avocados, tomatoes, spinach, certain nuts (peanuts, cashews, walnuts), cinnamon, cloves, cocoa, and several others. See a fuller list and gain more understanding of histamines here.

Arginines

Arginines are amino acids found in peanuts, nuts and chocolate. They cause dilation of cranial blood vessels (by increasing the quantity of nitric oxide in the blood), the very cause of migraines. By eliminating or reducing one’s consumption of arginines, the blood vessels are able to normalize. Here’s a fuller list of high-arginine foods.

When reintroducing tyramines, histamines, and arginines, it is best to add back in only one or a few foods at a time. Variations within a category can occur. For instance, a patient may be able to add back in cloves and cinnamon, but not cocoa. Taking time with the reintroduction of foods will help clarify which foods are antagonistic.

5. Curcumin

Curcumin, the anti-inflammatory compound found in turmeric, works to remedy migraine headaches by reducing inflammation curcumin for migraines in cranial blood vessels. Curcumin supplementation may not address the root cause of migraines, although it does provide relief for some patients.

One source suggests combining curcumin with additional herbs or supplements based on the location of the migraine:

Since most migraines affect the right or left side, some studies have been conducted on which nutritional supplements will benefit which type of migraine. For example, calcium, cat’s claw or iron may benefit those with left-side migraines and magnesium, turmeric or zinc may benefit those with right-side migraines.

500 mg. of curcumin taken three times daily is suggested as a starting place dosage. Please consult your doctor to find the dosage right for you.

Lesser solutions that may bring relief

In my usual manner, I like to share Honorable Mentions. These are treatments that work for some, that are worth mentioning:

  • I have heard good things about the homeopathic Sanguinaria Canadensis 30c.
  • Detox bath or detox foot bath- I’ve only had a few migraines in my life. But this method works for me when it happens. I add peppermint and lavender essential oils to the water, and partial (75%) relief is pretty quick.
  • Drinking apple cider vinegar in water- This is what we used to do for my daughter when we didn’t know of other remedies. It helped- 1 tablespoon in 12 ounces of water. She also used to lie down in a dark room. Glad those days are over.

I’d love to hear your experiences! Share in the comments your thoughts and what works well for you.

 

SOURCES

http://traditionalcookingschool.com/2014/03/12/treating-migraines-with-red-raspberry-leaf/

http://chriskresser.com/coq10-vaccination-and-natural-treatment-for-migraines/

http://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/guide/tyramine-and-migraines

http://migraineheadache-relief.blogspot.com/2010/02/turmeric-curcuminalzheimers-migraine.html

http://www.migrainesurvival.com/should-you-be-taking-magnesium

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9523054/

http://www.neurobiologix.com/v/Files/Methylation%20Deficiency%20by%20Dr.%20Kendal%20Stewart.pdf

Turmeric Benefits for Migraine

 

  • Jessica from SimplyHealthyHome

    Great ideas! I will get one right before my cycle some months. Magneisum helps but I didn’t think to try RRL for it.

  • Feverfew is known to help with migraines. It is anti-inflammatory. My understanding is you have to use it proactively. It is bitter so you have to add honey. I harvest mine and sell it over at my shop.

  • Emily @ Recipes to Nourish

    Wow this is great Megan. As you know I get them, and have since my teens years – and they’re awful and can be debilitating. I have been trying to find the root cause for so many years and think I have narrowed it down to hormones and environmental triggers. I really appreciate this info and will try some new ideas. I love the tincture idea – I have been drinking a hormone balancing tea daily per my midwife’s suggestion. Some days I forget though, so I think I’ll try the red raspberry tincture too.

  • Megan Stevens

    Thank you, Anna! Great addition to the RRL tea medley!

  • Megan Stevens

    Great, Emily! I’ll love hearing how you progress and improve!!! I’m so glad the post is helpful.

  • Renee Kohley

    I have never had a migraine but these are such great (simple!) treatments! I will be tucking this away on pintrest in case I ever need it!

  • Megan Stevens

    Great, Renee.

  • Megan Stevens

    Great, I hope that added herb is a big help! I love hearing that the woman who recommends this herb drinks a full quart a day of the tea. She makes it very clear that that large, regular quantity is needed for the balancing effects to occur.

  • linda spiker

    I had migraines when I was pregnant a few times. So miserable. Hopefully your tips will help those who suffer on a regular basis! Pinned and shared 🙂

  • Dee

    I have hormonal migraines. I had them all through my teens and then they went away. In peri-menopause they came back but with an aura and less of the headache pain. Now I’m menopausal and I still get aura’s once in awhile. I take a migraine medication with codeine in it as soon as I get an aura and that stops me from getting the bad headache. I’m going to try some of these ideas though because I hate having to take a pill.

  • Barbara Coon

    I am thankful not to suffer from migraines! I am passing this article along to my dil, who has suffered for years. I am not sure what she is doing to help them; Essential Oils, I think.

  • Megan Stevens

    Great, Barbara!! May they indeed help her!

  • Megan Stevens

    Wonderful, Dee. <3

  • Megan Stevens

    Great, Linda; thanks.

  • Brenda LaTorre

    I have never had one but three things have eliminated migraines for my husband:
    – Cutting out coffee with caffeine (he drinks green tea that has about the same amount of caffeine as 1/3 cup of coffee without any reactions)
    – Fenuthyme (which is a combination of the herbs Fenugreek and Thyme)
    – White Willow (the herb that aspirin was created from so children or anyone who might be allergic to it should not take it as it has similar side effects as aspirin)

  • Megan Stevens

    Thank you, Brenda! Wonderful additions, so helpful. 🙂

  • This is a great list, Megan – I’m pinning it for reference! I’ve not suffered with migraines personally, but have looked into treatments a bit for others. I just want to throw two more considerations into the mix since migraines seem to be linked to gut and hormone health, in case they’re helpful to migraine sufferers:

    (1) Attention to liver health with consideration of supplements and possibly liver-gallbladder flushing under supervision of a practitioner (The liver’s role in methylation can affect hormone balance which we know is related to migraines for many women; also, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is one of the most common and least diagnosed conditions in North American adults and is linked to migraines)

    (2) Pre and probiotic rich foods and/or high quality probiotic supplements. There are clear links between poor gut health and migraines, and I believe we’ll see more studies emerging in the next few years showing benefits from consuming probiotics in food and supplement form. (Disclaimer: I sell high potency probiotic supplements from my web site 🙂 )

  • Megan Stevens

    Thank you!!! What wonderful insights and additions!! I’m so glad for your input! So milk thistle (http://amzn.to/1Tr7SId) is a tincture I’ve used and love for liver cleansing, as is dandelion (http://amzn.to/1Tr7VDI)- both good ones to ask a doctor about. I’ll be posting next month over at traditionalcookingschool.com about prebiotics and how to incorporate them more into one’s diet. Or this post on resistant starches (a form of prebiotics) may be helpful: http://eatbeautiful.net/2014/12/22/what-are-resistant-starches-and-who-should-be-eating-which-ones/ Many cheers! (Stone Breaker is also great to look into, for gall bladder health.)

  • I’ve suffered from migraines since pre-teen years. I rarely get them now but I think it started out as hormonal and stress induced. Mg helps to prevent and caffeine when I get it. I never liked prescription meds as they made me nauseous. This is a great list Megan and will share!

  • Megan Stevens

    Thank you, Karen! I’m glad to hear of your improvements!!

  • Thank you for all these excellent suggestions, I’m going to pass this along to my sister who suffers from migraines. She just recently bought turmeric capsules, too! Hoping they help her.

  • Megan Stevens

    Great, Elaina! I hope she finds relief, too! I hope that she bought curcumin, not just turmeric, for greater effectiveness. There’s a link above in the curcumin section about this topic. <3

  • Thanks for the heads up! I’ll have to ask her. I know she said they had black pepper and a few other things mixed in.

  • Megan Stevens

    <3

  • Kelly Habermehl

    Butterbur is the best solution I’ve come across thus far, and there are studies to support it’s use. Like everything else, it’s an individual solution, based largely upon the cause of migraine.

    Butterbur root:
    Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) is a plant that flourishes in moist conditions,
    and has been used for a wide range of medicinal purposes in Europe since
    ancient times (Pothmann 2005). Butterbur extracts possess analgesic,
    anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, and vasodilatatory properties, which may
    explain their efficacy for migraine prevention (Pothmann 2005; Oelkers-Ax
    2008). Butterbur root extract (standardized to 15% petasins) has been shown to
    be both safe and effective for the prevention of migraines (Diener 2004; Lipton
    2004; Pothmann 2005). In one study, researchers split 245 patients into three
    groups to receive: 75 mg of butterbur extract twice a day, 50 mg of butterbur
    extract twice a day, or placebo. At the end of a four-month treatment period,
    those taking the 75 mg dosage experienced a whopping 48% reduction, on average,
    in the frequency of migraine attacks (Lipton 2004).

    Butterbur is so
    effective for reducing the frequency and severity of migraine attacks, that the
    American Academy of Neurology (AAN) and the American Headache Society (AHS)
    have recommend it as an effective treatment for migraine (Holland 2012).

  • Brenda Slivkoff

    I’ve had migraines for nearly 30 years. I’ve recently found that the most effective treatment for me is a coffee enema. Once I got past the “yuck” factor, the relief is so immediate and thorough, I can’t believe it isn’t talked about more. Magnesium (powder in liquid form-Natural Calm) has also been very helpful.

  • Megan Stevens

    Thank you for sharing!

  • Megan Stevens

    Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  • Raine Saunders

    I have never officially been diagnosed as having migraines, however, I have had some really severe headaches that seem to be at least bordering on migraine-esque, from descriptions I’ve read and heard from many people I know. One night I had a particularly bad headache and was going through my kitchen trying to find something that would work. I had tried many different things without success. Then I remembered I had liquid minerals, and decided to put them in a capsule and drink it down with sea salt in water. Within 15 minutes my headache had improved substantially. Then it started to come back about 20 minutes later, so I did the same procedure again and my headache went completely away. I now take minerals twice daily in a capsule and with sea salt and water and I rarely get headaches like this anymore. I am also certain to consume mineral-rich foods and liquids daily as I truly believe many headaches are caused by mineral deficiencies, from my own experience – and also knowing that so many diseases and conditions are linked to lack of minerals.

  • Raine Saunders

    Thanks for sharing this great article Megan! I would also add that epsom salt baths or magnesium oil would likely be helpful. I have used magnesium oil to alleviate headaches as well, and noticed a definite improvement. 🙂

  • Megan Stevens

    Thanks, Raine, for sharing!! So appreciated and I love that you have a go-to for relief!!

  • Megan Stevens

    Great additions! Thanks, Raine! 🙂

  • Melissa

    I bought the curcumin you suggest, but it contains soy. 🙁 Any suggestions for a soy-free brand? Thanks for such a thorough article. 🙂

  • Megan Stevens

    Yes, Melissa, great question. I recommend this one: http://amzn.to/2aJf55h

  • kay

    I have tried many, many things over the years to cure my migraines. Just recently (four months ago), I started seeing an atlas orthogonal chiropractor, and seeing her has seriously decreased the amount of migraines I get! I am not sure exactly of the hows or whys, all I know is I wish I would have done this a long time ago!

  • Megan Stevens

    Thanks for sharing that option!