5 Natural Remedies for Migraines

Migraines can be a debilitating and painful experience for many sufferers that they often go to many lengths to find pain relief, attempt to prevent and control their occurrence. There are many natural therapies that can help and when combined or with medical intervention can provide significant relief for migraine sufferers. A typical migraine can either have an aura (pre cursor to the headache period of vision change, hearing, numbness etc) or without and that is characterised as recurrent headaches that are unilateral, pulsating, moderately severe, aggravated by physical activity. They can be associated with nausea, vomiting, photophobia (sensitivity to light) and phonophobia (sensitivity to sound) (4).

  1. Acupuncture – in numerous studies where migraine was present without aura acupuncture treatments have been shown to reduce severity, length and frequency of migraines in patients for up to 24 weeks post treatment (1). Thus acupuncture is often used as a preventative measure for migraine attacks. With acupuncture fine needles are inserted into the skin along meridian (points along the body) points for approximately 30 minutes each session. In another study comparing drug therapy and acupuncture in patients with migraines with and without aura it was found that there was a benefit of both but the benefit was similar in both the drug arm and the acupuncture arm of the trial (2). At live free we have 2 fully trained acupuncturists (Nicole and Kathy) that can help with migraine prevention as well as acute migraine intervention contact reception for more details.
  2. Chiropractic – chiropractic is a manual treatment technique that creates motion in the joints of the spine and extremities. When applied to the neck and upper back it can aid in reducing occurrence of migraines and or occasionally all together. It helps relieve tension in the surrounding musculature, create mobility and relieve pain. In a case study specifically utilising chiropractic and rehabilitative therapy the outcome of the trial showed that the patient improved markedly with the addition of rehabilitation to their treatment protocol (3). At Live Free we always focus on the best treatment for the patient and utilise multiple therapies to achieve the best and additive effect. Our chiropractors at Live Free can apply manipulation, mobilisation, soft tissue therapy, acupuncture/dry needling and rehabilitation protocols to achieve the optimal improvement. At Live Free we have 3 fully trained chiropractors that can help with migraines – Nicole, Kathy & Khalil
  3. Elimination Diet – it has been long known that certain foods and liquids when consumed by migraine sufferers can trigger an attack. Some common triggers include wine, cheese, histamine containing foods, cheese and diary. It is also now known that any food that creates an immune reaction or inflammation can be a potential trigger in sufferers. So by performing a basic elimination diet one can find out valuable information about weather any common triggers cause irritation, immune reaction or cause migraine to occur. Here is an easy example of how and why to do an elimination diet by Mind Body Green. Nicole of Eat Move Thrive is a trained Functional Medicine Practitioner and can aid in doing an elimination diet to learn more about her and how she works please visit her website Eat Move Thrive.
  4. Magnesium – magnesium deficiency is very common in the general population as well as among migraine sufferers. Some trials have shown effective relief and migraine prevention with magnesium supplementation and some have not shown as big a benefit. As many are deficient due to the poor quality of our soil and content in our fruits and vegetables it is prudent to trial magnesium supplementation to see if one responds to this low risk intervention (6). Its recommended that one takes 600mg per day for a few months to see if it begins to prevent the migraine occurrence. Always speak to your doctor before starting any intervention or change to your diet.
  5. Breathing and Meditation – breathing is our only conscious control over our nervous system and it has been long linked with relaxation, pain relief and a calming effect. In a 2005 study comparing breathing, biofeedback to pain medication it was found that biofeedback assisted diaphragmatic breathing and systematic relaxation were very useful in migraine and had significantly better long-term prevention than pain medication for migraine (6). Breathing and meditation are such simple, non invasive techniques that they should be prescribed to all migraine sufferers. Here is a simple 3 min breath/mediation to start you off: https://youtu.be/XKjd44-nVqc Also the Headspace App is a fantastic guided meditation app that has a first 10 meditations for free.

References:

  1. The Long-term effect of Acupuncture for Migraine Prophylaxis: A randomised clinical trial. Ling Zhao, PhD; Jiao Chen, PhD; Ying Li, PhD; Xin Sun, PhD; Xiaorong Chang, MD; Hui Zheng, PhD; Biao Gong, MD; Yinlan Huang, PhD; Mingxiao Yang, PhD; XiWu, PhD; Xuezhi Li, PhD; Fanrong Liang, MD. Journal of the American Medical Association, Internal Medicine, 2017 (pp508-515). 
  2. The clinical efficiency of acupuncture in preventing migraine attacks and its effect on serotonin levels. Mualla Biçer,1 Dilek Bozkurt,2 Murat Çabalar,2 Nilgün Işıksaçan,3 Asuman Gedikbaşı,3 Arsida Bajrami,2 İlknur Aktaş4, Turk J Phys Med Rehab 2017;63(l):59-65
  3. Chiropractic management of a patient with migraine headache. Stacy Peters Harris DC,DACRB. JOURNAL OF CHIROPRACTIC MEDICINE, Winter 2005, No 1, Vol 4, pp 25-31.
  4. Taking an integrative approach to migraine headaches. Laura Armstrong, MD and Geraldine Gossard, MD. Journal of Family Practice, Vol 65 (3), pp 165-176.
  5. Magnesium for Migraine; Rationale for Use and Therapeutic Potential, Alexander Mauskop1 and Burton M. Altura2. CNS drugs, 1998 (9): 3, pp 185-190.
  6. Biofeedback assisted diaphragmatic breathing and systematic relaxation versus propranolol in long term prophylaxis of migraine. Reshma Kaushika,∗, Rajeev Mohan Kaushika, Sukhdev Krishan Mahajana, Vemreddi Rajesh. Journal of Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2005(13), pp 165-174.