Migraines are sometimes called “cranium crushers” by those who suffer from them. Described as pounding, throbbing or crushing, the pain of a migraine can make it impossible to function. When you throw in the light-sensitivity, sensitivity to sound, and the sometimes violent nausea that frequently accompany a migraine headache; it makes it easy to understand why millions of dollars a year are spent on trying to find relief.
There are many prescription options available to treat migraines, but for those who have not found relief, or who simply would like to try more natural options; there are many additional choices. Some natural treatments can be used along with prescriptions to help provide additional pain relief, or to try to reduce the frequency of migraines; and others may be able to replace more traditional treatments entirely, depending on how severe your migraines are.
Here are a few possibilities to consider:
Heat and Cold: New studies indicate that migraines may be caused by “vascular dilation” (the expansion of the blood vessels.) Some patients have reported a reduction in pain with the use of an ice pack on the back of the neck, combined with a hot pack on the feet to change the blood flow. Heat expands blood vessels, and cold contracts them, and this method is reported to reduce the “pounding” caused by the dilation of the blood vessels in the head.
(Don’t leave the ice pack for too long, or you’ll end up with an “ice cream” headache instead of, or in addition to, your migraine. Five minutes or less, followed by a five minute break, then more cold, seems to work without causing this issue.)
Herbs: There are many herbs that can be used in the treatment of migraines. Some can reduce the frequency and severity of attacks (feverfew, bay, ginger) others can help with the pain (feverfew, ginger, valerian, skullcap, rosemary;) and yet others can be used to reduce the nausea that is frequently associated with migraines (ginger, chamomile, lemon balm.)
Peppermint is also excellent for nausea, however, it is a known migraine trigger for some, so if mint triggers migraine for you, or makes the pain worse after you have one, you should avoid taking it internally. If your migraines seem to be tied to your monthly cycle, taking black cohosh on a regular basis may help. (For more information on herbal treatments, check out this page.
Supplements: Magnesium deficiency is common in those who have frequent tension or migraine headaches, and many nutritionists recommend that those who are prone to headaches get 600 mg of magnesium per day. For magnesium to be properly utilized by the body, it must be in the correct proportion to dietary calcium, which means that you also need 1200 mg. of calcium, either through diet or supplementation.
Aromatherapy: There are several essential oils that can reduce the pain associated with migraine, including peppermint, lavender, rosemary, and eucalyptus. Although peppermint in the diet can trigger migraine or increase the pain, external use of the essential oil does not. One drop each of peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus, and lavender in any combination; mixed with a few drops of a clear alcohol such as vodka and applied to the temples, can help to ease the pain.