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Migraine Natural Treatments

Migraine Natural Treatments
Written by Sandy Cho, MD and reviewed by Julie A. Cerrato, PhD

A migraine headache, often described as an intense throbbing or pulsing on one side of the head, is commonly accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.

Migraine attacks can be especially debilitating and cause significant pain for hours to days. They can be so severe that they interfere with activities of daily living.

Find migraine natural treatments such as herbal medicine, supplements, acupuncture, massage, and biofeedback for treating migraines below.

Overview

What are the signs/symptoms of a migraine?

Migraines may progress through four stages, consisting of prodrome, aura, attack and postdrome. However, you may not experience all four stages.

Prodrome

One or two days before a migraine, you may notice subtle changes which may indicate the onset of a migraine, including:

Aura

Most people experience migraine headaches without aura. Auras are usually visual but can also be sensory, motor or verbal disturbances. Each of these symptoms typically begins gradually over several minutes, then commonly lasts for 10 to 30 minutes. Examples of aura include:

Attack

When untreated, a migraine typically lasts from four to 72 hours, but the frequency with which headaches occur varies between individuals. You may have migraines several times a month or much less frequently. During a migraine, you may experience some of the following symptoms:

Postdrome

The final phase, known as postdrome, occurs after a migraine attack, when you may feel weak and fatigued, though some people report feeling mildly euphoric.

What causes a migraine?

What are conventional treatments for migraine?

If migraines are mild, analgesics such as NSAIDs or acetaminophen are often taken. If not, a dihydroergotamine (DHE)or a triptan may be prescribed by a physician.

Nutrition

Nutritional approaches to migraine are often effective. They can be particularly useful for pregnant women.

Herbs

Herbs are commonly used to provide relief from migraines. Feverfew and butterbur are remedies for a migraine in either preventing them or reducing their severity. Riboflavin also may prevent migraines. Seek the advice of a health professional to see if these treatments are right for you.

Supplements

Studies show a deficit of mitochondrial energy metabolism may play a role in migraine pathogenesis. Therefore, riboflavin has been investigated as a treatment and/or prevention for migraine.

Studies have found significant reductions in headache frequency with daily pharmacologic doses (400 mg) of riboflavin.  Furthermore, riboflavin was demonstrated to be a safe and well-tolerated alternative in migraine prevention and treatment. It even reduced the number of abortive anti-migraine tablets (ie. Ergotamines, triptans) used in migraine sufferers.

Bodywork

Acupuncture

Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine needles through your skin at strategic points on your body followed by gentle manipulation of the needles. Clinical trials have found that acupuncture may be helpful for headache pain. Because the pain of a migraine may be associated with the dilation of blood vessels in the head, increasing circulation in this area can worsen symptoms. Thus, a unique approach to the treatment of migraine attacks is used. By avoiding points in the head, neck and upper body, and instead using points exclusively in the lower body, dilation of the blood vessels of the head is limited.


Biofeedback

Biofeedback appears to be especially effective in relieving migraine pain. This relaxation technique uses special equipment to teach you how to monitor and control certain physical responses related to stress, such as muscle tension.

Manual therapy

Massage and chiropractic treatments may help reduce the frequency of migraines. They can also improve the quality of your sleep, which can, in turn, help prevent migraine attacks.

Prevention

Updated: August 2019

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