Migraine vs Headache – It is important to know the difference between a migraine attack and a headache.
Headaches can vary a great deal in how long they last, how severe they are, and why they happen. They may not occur in a recognizable pattern as migraine attacks do.
Migraine attacks will present as moderate-to-severe headaches on one side of the head that occur with other symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting. Migraine and non-migraine headaches are different and can indicate different causes.
To help identify a migraine headache, it can be useful to keep a diary of symptoms noting the time of onset, any triggers, the duration of the headaches, any noticeable signs or auras leading up to a migraine attack, and any other symptoms.
A headache diary should ideally be used for a minimum of 8 weeks and record:
- the frequency, duration, and severity of headaches
- any associated symptoms
- all prescribed and OTC medications taken to relieve headache symptoms
- possible triggers
- the relationship of headaches to menstruation
The International Headache Society recommends the “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” criteria to diagnose migraines without aura. This stands for:
- 5 or more attacks with a duration of 4 hours to 3 days
- At least two of the following qualities: Occurring on one side of the head, a pulsating quality, moderate-to-severe pain, and aggravation by routine physical activity
- At least one additional symptom, such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, or sensitivity to sound.
During the initial diagnosis of migraines, the doctor may suggest a range of tests to exclude any other causes of a headache. These can include electroencephalography (EEG), CT, and MRI scans, or a spinal tap.
And what exactly is a migraine?
It’s a disabling disease that causes an extremely painful headache that is accompanied by nausea or vomiting, and sensitivity to lights and sounds. The head pain that occurs with migraine is usually a severe, pounding headache that can last hours or even days. Migraine is much more than just a headache however. Other symptoms vary from person to person, but you may see spots, have blurred vision, or smell strange odors. You might be sensitive to light, and feel sick to your stomach, even vomit.
What are basilar migraines?
A basilar migraine affects the vision, causing an ‘aura’ of flashing lights, spots, or lines. A basilar migraine is a rare type of migraine that begins in the brain stem. A basilar migraine may be caused by a constriction of blood vessels that limit blood flow to the brain. Other conditions that restrict blood flow, such as tortuous blood vessels, may also cause basilar migraines. Basilar migraines can affect a person’s senses, particularly their sight. This is referred to as a migraine with aura. A basilar migraine may cause a person to see lines, flashes of light, or spots. The pain of the migraine may occur before or during these other symptoms. Basilar migraines may affect one or both sides of the head. Aura symptoms can last for about an hour before fading, but the migraine itself may last between 4 hours and several days. A person will typically feel exhausted or drained following a basilar migraine.
Symptoms – Basilar migraines have a variety of specific symptoms, but also share symptoms with other aura migraines. Symptoms specific to a basilar migraine include:
- slurred speech
- loss of muscle control
- cold hands or feet
- blacking out or fainting
- ringing in the ears
- extreme dizziness
- a sense that the room is spinning, making it difficult to stand
- temporary blindness
- double vision
- nausea or vomiting
Symptoms shared with other aura migraines include:
- vision changes
- seeing static or zigzagging lights
- seeing spots or stars
- sensitivity to light or noise
- numbness in face, head, and hands
- seeing lights not coming from an explainable source
Aura symptoms usually occur before the onset of the migraine pain, which can range from moderate to severe. The pain may concentrate in one area of the head before spreading.
Migraines can also cause allodynia, which is when a light touch, such as clothing brushing against the skin, causes pain. Symptoms will vary between people and between instances.
Migraine Phases – A migraine can be complicated, with symptoms that change over hours or even days. They tend to move through several stages:
Prodromal Phase: Early Warning Signs
Hours before the migraine begins — and sometimes even the day before — many people may feel:
- Either unusually energetic and excitable or depressed
- If you feel extra tired, it’s a sign that something’s going wrong in your body. Sleepy, with a lot of yawning
- This is your immune response over-reacting to even the slightest triggers.
- Neck pain and stiffness. If this is accompanied by fatigue, it’s a pretty good sign of what’s coming.
- Compulsive Yawning. Yawning is normal when you’re tired, but if the yawning is out of control, it could be a sign of an impending migraine attack.
- This is often the result of an over-stimulated immune system.
- Hot flashes. Hot flashes are a sign that something is going wrong in your body. Paired with other symptoms on this list, it’s an indicator of what’s coming.
- Digestive issues. If your gastrointestinal tract is having problems, it could be an indication that something is wrong.
- This is also the result of the over-stimulation of your nervous system, as well as low levels of serotonin.
- Cravings are fairly normal, but if accompanied by other symptoms on this list, it’s an indication that a migraine is coming.
- The need to pee more often
In some cases, these symptoms before the headache can help doctors diagnose the problem as a migraine.
Aura Phase: Strange Feelings Start
About 1 in 5 people with migraines get an “aura” that begins before the headache or starts along with it. It may not happen with every headache, though. An aura can include:
Changes in vision, such as:
- A flickering, jagged arc of light. It may have a complicated shape. It usually appears on the left or right side of your vision. Over a few minutes, it may get bigger.
- A blind spot in your field of vision. This problem — combined with the flickering lights — can make it hard to drive or focus your eyes on small objects.
- You might “see” images from the past or have hallucinations.
These symptoms may continue to get worse over the next several minutes.
- Skin sensations. You might feel tingling or “pins and needles” in your body during an aura. It may also cause numbness. These feelings often affect the face and hands, but they can spread out across the body. They may continue to expand over the next several minutes.
- Language problems. You may have a hard time communicating with others. Symptoms may include:
- Trouble expressing thoughts when you speak or write
- Trouble understanding spoken or written words
- Trouble concentrating
Attack Phase: The Headache Begins
The attack portion of a migraine can last from a few hours to several days. During this phase, you’ll probably want to rest quietly and find it hard to do your normal activities.
The pain of a migraine:
- Usually begins above the eyes
- Typically affects one side of the head, but it may happen to the entire head or move from one side to the other. It may also affect the lower face and the neck.
- Tends to feel throbbing
- May throb worse during physical activity or when you lean forward
- May get worse if you move around
Other symptoms that might happen during this phase:
- Unusual sensitivity to light, sounds, and smells
- Lightheadedness and fainting
- Nausea and vomiting
Postdromal Phase: After It Stops
Following the most severe phase of the migraine, you may not feel well for up to a day. Symptoms of this post-migraine phase include:
- Extreme tiredness
- Head pain that flares up when you lean over, move quickly, or get a rush of blood to the head
Your migraines may change over time, including how often they happen and how severe they are. Attacks may not always include all of these stages. Also, you may eventually get the migraine aura without having a headache.
There are two main types of migraine. This classification depends on whether the individual experiences any disturbances of the senses leading up to a migraine. These are known as auras.
Migraine with aura – For many people with migraine, the auras act as a warning, telling them that a headache is soon to come. The effects of an aura can include:
- confusing thoughts or experiences
- the perception of strange, sparkling or flashing lights
- zig-zagging lines in the visual field
- blind spots or blank patches in the vision
- pins and needles in an arm or leg
- difficulty speaking
- stiffness in the shoulders, neck, or limbs
- unpleasant smells
If the following symptoms are unusual for the person with migraine, they should not be ignored:
- an unusually severe headache
- visual disturbance
- loss of sensation
- difficulties with speech
When migraines with aura affect vision, the patient may see things that are not there, such as transparent strings of objects. They may also not see parts of the object in front of them or even feel as if part of their field of vision appears, disappears, and then comes back again. People experiencing an aura may describe the visual disturbance as similar to the sensation that follows being exposed to a very bright camera flash.
Migraine without aura – More commonly, a person will experience a migraine without any sensory disturbance leading up to the attack. Between 70 and 90 percent of migraines occur without an aura.
Other types – There are other types of migraine related to specific syndromes or triggers, including:
- Chronic migraine: This refers to any migraine that triggers attacks on over 15 days of the month.
- Menstrual migraine: This is when the attacks occur in a pattern connected to the menstrual cycle.
- Hemiplegic migraine: This causes weakness on one side of the body for a temporary period.
- Abdominal migraine: This is a syndrome that connects migraine attacks to irregular function in the gut and abdomen. It mainly occurs in children under 14 years of age,
- Migraine with brainstem aura: This is a rare type of migraine that can trigger severe neurological symptoms, such as affected speech.
Speak to a doctor after identifying a migraine pattern in any headaches experienced. They will be able to advise the type and prescribe suitable treatment.
Why Do I Get Them?
Doctors aren’t totally sure what causes migraine headaches, but they think imbalances in certain brain chemicals may play a role. Your genes and other elements are also likely factors. While researchers haven’t been able to pinpoint a cause, they know that several things increase your chances of having migraines, including:
- Your genes. If someone in your family gets migraine headaches, you’re more likely to get them than someone without that family history.
- Your age. Migraine headaches can hit at any point in your life, but you’ll usually get your first one in your teens. The headaches tend to peak in your 30s and become less severe later in life.
- Your gender. Women are about three times more likely to get them than men.
- Hormonal changes. If you’re a woman and take birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, they can make your migraine symptoms worse. But some women have fewer migraine headaches when they take these medications.
What Triggers a Migraine?
If you’ve ever had a migraine, all you want to do is avoid the next one. And there are several things that do trigger this type of headache — some that you can avoid, some you can’t:
- Hormonal changes. If you take birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, they can make your migraines worse. But some women have fewer migraines when they take these medications.
- Emotional stress. This is one of the most common migraine triggers. That’s because when you’re stressed, your brain releases chemicals that cause your “fight or flight” response. Anxiety, worry, and fear can create even more tension and make a migraine worse.
- Certain foods. Salty, processed foods and aged cheeses like blue cheese are known triggers. And the artificial sweetener aspartame, and flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate, or MSG, may cause them, too.
- Skipping meals. If you miss a meal, your blood sugar could drop, triggering a headache.
- Alcohol and caffeine. Do you ever get a raging headache after that glass of wine? Alcoholic drinks, and drinks high in caffeine are migraine triggers.
- Sensory overload. Bright lights, loud sounds, and strong smells can bring on these headaches in some people.
- Changes in sleep pattern. If you get too much or too little sleep, you may get a migraine. Traveling between time zones? Jet lag can be a cause, too.
- Physical strain. An intense workout, like heavy exercise or even sex, can cause a migraine. You should still be active, but you might do better with a more moderate pace.
- Changes in weather. This is a big trigger. So is a change in the overall air pressure.
While you might not be able to prevent migraine triggers altogether, some simple things — like regular, good-quality sleep, a healthy diet, exercise, and stress management may help you stop them before they start.
Migraines are often managed through a course of medication. There are many different types of migraine medication, including painkillers. Painkillers should be taken early in the progress of a migraine rather than allowing the headache to develop. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications effective for treating migraines include:
Other painkillers, such as aspirin with caffeine and acetaminophen, can often stop the headache or reduce pain.
Drugs that treat nausea – Some people who experience migraines will need to take medications that treat the accompanying symptoms.
- Metoclopramide may be used to control certain symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting. Serotonin agonists, such as sumatriptan, may also be prescribed for severe migraines or for migraines that do not respond to OTC medications.
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and antidepressants, such as tricyclics, are prescribed to reduce migraine symptoms, although they are not approved in all countries for this purpose.
Preventive medications – Migraine prevention begins with avoiding triggers. The main goals of preventive therapies are to reduce the frequency, pain level, and duration of migraine headaches and increase the effectiveness of other therapies. There are several medications and supplements that help prevent migraine attacks, including:
- coenzyme Q10
- herbal extracts, such as feverfew
- magnesium citrate
- vitamin B-12
It is worth noting that some people can experience a medication overuse headache (MOH), or rebound headache. This can occur after taking too many medications in an attempt to prevent migraine attacks.
Until recently, experts recommended avoiding common migraine triggers. Some triggers can’t be avoided, and avoidance isn’t always effective. But some of these lifestyle changes and coping strategies may help you reduce the number and severity of your migraines:
- Transcutaneous supraorbital nerve stimulation (t-SNS). This device (Cefaly), similar to a headband with attached electrodes, was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a preventive therapy for migraines. In research, those that used the device experienced fewer migraines.
- Learn to cope. Recent research shows that a strategy called learning to cope (LTC) may help prevent migraines. In this practice, you are gradually exposed to headache triggers to help desensitize you to them. LTC may also be combined with cognitive behavioral therapy. More research is needed to better understand the effectiveness of LTC.
- Create a consistent daily schedule. Establish a daily routine with regular sleep patterns and regular meals. In addition, try to control stress.
- Exercise regularly. Regular aerobic exercise reduces tension and can help prevent migraines. If your doctor agrees, choose any aerobic exercise you enjoy, including walking, swimming and cycling. Warm up slowly, however, because sudden, intense exercise can cause headaches. Regular exercise can also help you lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight, and obesity is thought to be a factor in migraines.
- Reduce the effects of estrogen. If you are a woman who has migraines and estrogen seems to trigger or make your headaches worse, you may want to avoid or reduce the medications you take that contain estrogen.
These medications include birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy. Talk with your doctor about the appropriate alternatives or dosages for you.
Finding and Curing the Causes of Your Migraines
Food Allergy/Bowel and Gut Imbalances –
The symptoms: Fatigue, brain fog, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, joint or muscle pain, postnasal drip and sinus congestion, and more.
The testing: Check an IgG food allergy panel and also check a celiac panel because wheat and gluten are among the biggest causes of headaches and migraines. Stool testing and urine testing for yeast or bacterial imbalances that come from the gut can also be helpful.
The treatment: An elimination diet — getting rid of gluten, dairy, eggs, and yeast — is a good way to start. Corn can also be a common problem. Getting the gut healthy with enzymes, probiotics, and omega-3 fats is also important.
Chemical Triggers –
The causes: A processed-food diet including aspartame, MSG (monosodium glutamate), nitrates (in deli meats), sulfites (found in wine, dried fruit, and food from salad bars) is to blame. Tyramine-containing foods like chocolate and cheese are also triggers.
The treatment: Get rid of additives, sweeteners, sulfites, and processed food. Eat a diet rich in whole foods and phytonutrients.
Hormonal Imbalances –
The causes: Premenstrual syndrome with bloating, fluid retention, cravings, irritability, breast tenderness, menstrual cramps; use of an oral contraceptive pill or hormone replacement therapy; or even just being pre-menopausal, which leads to too much estrogen and not enough progesterone because of changes in ovulation.
The testing: Blood or saliva hormone testing looks for menopausal changes or too much estrogen.
The treatment: Eat a whole-foods, low-glycemic load, high-phytonutrient diet with flax, soy, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Use herbs such as Vitex, along with magnesium and B6. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and refined carbohydrates. Exercise and stress reduction techniques also help.
Magnesium Deficiency –
The symptoms: Anything that feels tight or crampy like headaches, constipation, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, sensitivity to loud noises, muscle cramps or twitching, and palpitations.
The testing: Check red blood cell magnesium levels. Even this can be normal in the face of total body deficiency, so treatment with magnesium based on the symptoms is the first choice.
The treatment: Magnesium glycinate, citrate, or aspartate in doses that relieve symptoms or until you get loose bowels. If you have kidney disease of any kind, do this only with a doctor’s supervision.
Mitochondrial Imbalances –
The symptoms: Fatigue, muscle aching, and brain fog, although sometimes the only symptom can be migraines.
The testing: Checking urinary organic acids can be helpful to assess the function of the mitochondria and energy production.
The treatment: Taking 400 mg of riboflavin (B2) twice a day and 100 to 400 mg a day of co-enzyme Q10 can be helpful, as can as other treatments to support the mitochondria.
Keep in mind that sometimes a combination of treatments is necessary. Other treatments can be helpful in selected cases, such as herbal therapies (like feverfew and butterbur,) acupuncture, homeopathy, massage, and osteopathic treatment to fix structural problems.
How to Get Rid of a Migraine: A Step-by-Step Guide – Healthline.com
Step 1: Have a treatment plan
A solid plan can give you the power to relieve a migraine before the pain becomes severe. This may be the most important weapon you have against future migraine attacks. Your plan will likely include taking medications when you feel a migraine coming on. Knowing which medication to take can lower your stress level because it removes some of the guesswork of what you should do. Your plan may include over-the-counter pain relievers, prescription medications, or some combination of the two. You should work with your doctor to develop a migraine treatment plan that’s right for you.
Step 2: Treat it early
Timing is everything when it comes to relieving a migraine. Take your medication as early as possible. The American Headache Society recommends taking your medication during the prodromal phase of the attack. A prodrome is a warning sign that a painful migraine is coming next. This gives you the best chance of getting relief. Don’t wait and see if you’re getting a full-blown migraine. The key is to recognize your prodrome quickly so you can take action. Prodromal signs can vary widely between people, but they often include symptoms such as:
- sensitivity to light or sound
- mood changes such as irritability, anxiety, or euphoria
- trouble concentrating
- food cravings, usually carbohydrates
- fatigue or yawning
If you’ve had migraines for a while, you may be able to easily spot your prodromal symptoms. This allows you to be proactive, not reactive, in treating the pain. You may need to keep your migraine medications with you at all times so you can take them as soon as you recognize the early stages of your attack.
Step 3: Consider what caused it
If you can determine the cause of your migraine, you may be able to take additional steps to find relief. For instance, are you getting a migraine because you haven’t had enough to eat today? Some migraines can be triggered by a lack of food, which can cause low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. If you think your headache is triggered by hunger, eat something that’s easy on the stomach such as saltine crackers. This, in combination with your medications, may give you additional relief. The National Headache Foundation says some people may crave carbohydrates just before a migraine hits. If this is the case, listen to your body and have a snack. Dehydration can cause headaches too, and may make your migraine worse. If you haven’t had enough fluids today, get a drink of water. Sip slowly to avoid triggering nausea or vomiting.
Step 4: Find a quiet, dark place to relax
Sensitivity to light and sound is one of the most common migraine symptoms. Get away from these things if you can. This can help you find relief from your pain and can alleviate stress. Lie down and pay attention to your breathing. Try taking slow, deep breaths from your diaphragm. Feel your stomach rise with the inhale and fall with the exhale. This can help you relax. Deep breathing and relaxation exercises can help shorten and relieve migraine attacks. They may also help you prevent some migraines from happening.
Step 5: Caffeine can help (sometimes)
A cup of coffee may help stop a migraine. Many over-the-counter pain relievers contain caffeine because it can enhance the effects of the medication. Just make sure you don’t drink too much. Drinking more than one cup of coffee could set you up for a caffeine withdrawal headache later. People with migraines who use caffeine more than three days per week may develop a dependency on the caffeine. This can lead to more headaches. Moderation is key with caffeine, but it helps many people find relief.
Step 6: Try hot or cold therapy
If you’ve ever put an ice pack on an injury or a heating pad on a sore back, you know the power of temperature therapy. This can also help when you have a migraine. You may need to experiment to decide what feels best for you. Some people find that an ice pack applied to the head offers soothing, numbing relief. This is particularly helpful if sun or heat brought on your migraine. Other people find a heating pad or hot shower to be therapeutic during an attack. It’s worth trying hot or cold therapy when your next migraine hits. It can safely and effectively complement your medication.
Step 7: Regular Exercise to Prevent Migraines
Don’t try it when you’re in the middle of a migraine attack, because it can make you hurt more. But when you feel well, a regular workout can prevent headaches. It makes your body release endorphins, chemicals that fight pain. It also eases stress and helps you sleep better. Exercise that gets your heart pumping can prevent migraines, but it can also be a headache trigger for some people. This activity, though, with its slower movements, is a safe alternative. Research shows that regular yoga sessions cut the number of attacks you get and make them less intense when they do happen.
Yoga uses breathing, meditation, and body postures to promote health and well-being. Research shows yoga may relieve the frequency, duration, and intensity of migraines. It’s thought to improve anxiety, release tension in migraine-trigger areas, and improve vascular health.
Tai Chi is a form of traditional Chinese exercise that purports to improve health by changes in mental focus, breathing, coordination and relaxation. The goal of Tai Chi is to ‘rebalance’ the body’s own healing capacity. Tai Chi has been practiced in China for hundreds of years and is now widely practiced throughout the world. It has been estimated that over 100 million people regularly practice Tai Chi in China alone. As an intervention for headache, Tai Chi offers several benefits over conventional treatment.
Virtually all pharmaceutical-based interventions include some risk to the patient of side-effects or complications, particularly over a long-term course of use. Of the most widely utilized drugs for TTH, acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol and other pain medications) can cause liver toxicity, and NSAIDS (such as ibuprofen and aspirin) can cause gastrointestinal symptoms and bleeding. To the extent that treatment can be refocused to exercise-based therapies, this will provide significant benefit to the patient.
Furthermore, not all patients respond favorably to pain medications. Patients may find only partial relief for their symptoms, or may be completely unable to tolerate pharmaceutical intervention. To the extent that Tai Chi represents a viable alternative to medication, it provides a major addition to the arsenal of potential treatments. Tai Chi may also help to control the cost of treatment because it requires only an initial period during which the patient receives training. This cost is low compared to newer (on-patent) pharmaceutical treatments (if required) which may include repeated physician visits to ensure proper progress, and also low compared with the long-term cost of over-the-counter medications (and their potential complications).
Step 8: Try Essential Oils
Lavender essential oil is “an anxiolytic drug, a mood stabilizer, a sedative, spasmolytic, antihypertensive, antimicrobial, analgesic agent as well as a wound healing accelerator.” Using it as a treatment for migraine headaches is definitely the way to go. One study found that 92 out of 129 migraine sufferers responded to inhaled lavender oil (from a diffuser). That’s nearly 75% of them! Using a diffuser is the best way to administer the lavender oil. Inhaling it will make it act very quickly, providing rapid migraine pain relief. However, you can also:
- Rub it on your temples and wrists. The oil will be absorbed into your bloodstream via your skin, where it will reduce the pain of your migraine headache.
- Drop it in a bathtub. Taking a warm bath can help to improve blood flow and reduce your migraine. Adding a few drops of lavender essential oil will make the bath more effective.
Peppermint essential oil – A 1996 study examined over 160 migraines in 41 patients, and the headaches were treated using either a placebo or a peppermint oil liquid. The peppermint oil helped to reduce migraine headaches noticeably after just 15 minutes. The effects lasted up to an hour after the onset of the migraine attack. If you are prone to suffering migraines, it’s definitely a good idea to have a bottle of peppermint oil handy. Just like with lavender oil, you can use a diffuser to inhale it, or apply it to your wrists and temples. Just smelling the oil can do wonders for your headaches!
One of our current peppermint oil favorites is a combination of essential oils. it includes Peppermint, Eucalyptus Globulus and Rosemary just to name a few. We highly recommend it for migraines.
A 2010 study published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice found that menthol was effective at stopping migraine pain and easing nausea when applied to the forehead and temples in a 10 percent solution. Research is limited on its clinical effectiveness, but topical peppermint oil may be a good herbal option for the relief of migraine pain. Peppermint oil is one of the easiest herbal remedies to try because of its prevalence in health food stores and pharmacies.
Sweet Basil essential oil is more than just a delicious herb to add to all your Italian dishes. If used right, it can help to reduce migraine headache pain and provide relief the natural way. In a report published in the Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, basil was mentioned as “a treatment modality for various ailments such as poor digestion, nausea, migraine, depression, insomnia, kidney malfunction and skin infections.” This is thanks to the antioxidants, flavonoids, and phenolic compounds contained in basil leaves–and, of course, basil oil. The sweet smell of basil oil can be comforting when you have a migraine headache. Burning it in an oil burner or using a reed diffuser can do wonders to reduce the pain of your headache.
Step 9: Try Herbal Remedies
Betony (Stachys officinalis) – This perennial herb can be found throughout Europe and Asia. It’s been used as a medicinal plant since classical times. The plant has traditionally been used to relieve headaches and facial swelling and pain. The leaves can be used as a juice, poultice, or ointment. The mildly sedative properties of the plant are used to treat headache and migraine pain, menstrual cramps, stress, and tension. It may help alleviate sinus headaches and congestion when used in combination with lime flowers and comfrey. However, there have been no human clinical trials performed to demonstrate the plant’s effectiveness against migraine pain. It’s not always easy to find betony in health food stores, so you may have to grow your own or buy it online. Betony can have a tonic effect on the body. It’s important to avoid the herb if you’re pregnant.
Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) – Butterbur is found in wet, marshy areas of Europe, Asia, and North America. People once used the leaves of the plant to wrap and preserve butter during warm weather, which is how butterbur got its name. It’s been used throughout history for a variety of purposes. The Greek physician Dioscurides originally used the plant as a skin ulcer remedy. Since then, it’s been used to treat:
- gastrointestinal problems
- general pain
Most butterbur herbal remedies use its purified root extract, Petasites, in pill form to treat headaches and migraines. A 2012 study published in Neurology supports conclusions from older studies that Petasites is effective for migraine prevention when taken as 50- to 75-milligram doses twice daily. If you live in Europe, Butterbur might be hard for you to obtain — the U.K. and Germany have both banned butterbur from being sold because of safety concerns with the leading manufacturers.
Coriander seed (Coriandrum sativum) – For over 7,000 years, people across cultures have used coriander seed’s healing and seasoning properties. Coriander was lauded for its ability to treat ailments that ranged from allergies to diabetes to migraines. Traditional Ayurvedic medicine used coriander to relieve sinus pressure and headaches by pouring hot water over the fresh seeds and inhaling the steam. Research on the seed’s medicinal effects is generally focused on its potential to treat arthritis and diabetes. More studies need to be conducted to determine if it’s useful as a remedy for migraine pain. However, coriander seed’s anti-inflammatory potential may prove beneficial for some people with migraines.
Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) – Hailing from the same family as carrots, parsley, and celery, dong quai root has been used as a spice, tonic, and medicinal cream for more than 1,000 years, especially in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean practices.
Evodia (Evodia rutaecarpa) – This deciduous tree is a native to China and has been used in Chinese medicine since the first century A.D. Evodia has traditionally been used to treat abdominal pain, headaches, diarrhea, and vomiting. The fruits of the tree may also reduce blood pressure. The anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing properties of the fruit may help ease migraine pain.
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) – While this herb has traditionally been used to treat fevers (hence its name), it’s a useful herb to try as a natural migraine relief treatment. As far back as the 1980s, feverfew was given to migraine sufferers to not only treat the problem but prevent the attack in the first place. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, up to 70% of the people who used feverfew to treat their migraine headaches found that taking just a few leaves per day helped to reduce the severity of the attacks drastically. Not only can feverfew help to minimize the pain of the migraine headaches, but it can help to reduce the frequency of the attacks. Taking feverfew with white willow (a plant with aspirin-like qualities) can do wonders to treat migraine headaches before, during, and after an attack.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) – Fresh ginger root is a potent digestive aid and painkiller, and it can help to reduce the severity of a migraine headache. It’s always good to have fresh ginger on hand! A 2014 study found that ginger helped to reduce migraine pain as effectively as Sumatriptan, one of the more commonly prescribed migraine headache medications. Within two hours of taking both ginger and the medication, the migraine severity decreased in equal measure. But there was a difference: Ginger had far fewer side effects than the medication! Best of all, it helped to reduce nausea, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal problems that accompany migraines. If you’re a regular migraine sufferer, make sure to have fresh ginger root in your fridge. Chew on the ginger when a migraine sets in, and you’ll find that the severity of the attack will be significantly decreased.
Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) – Native to Asia, the Japanese honeysuckle started taking root in North America in the 1800s. It’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat:
- colds and viruses
Along with honeysuckle’s anticancer and antimicrobial powers, research has also identified anti-inflammatory properties in the plant’s leaves, stems, and flowers that can provide pain relief similar to that of aspirin. It may also be effective against migraine pain.
Common hops (Humulus lupulus) – Hops are native to Europe and western Asia and can now be found throughout North America. Once used as a food in ancient Roman culture, this flavorful plant also has significant medicinal properties. Hops have historically been used to treat:
- sleep problems
- neuralgia (pain from nerve damage)
Modern medicine acknowledges the sedative effect of hops, but hasn’t thoroughly studied it for its impact on migraine pain.
Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) – Native to Europe, horseradish has been used in medicinal folk remedies as an oil extract or in dried or fresh root form. It has historically been used to treat:
- bladder infections
- kidney disease
- respiratory problems
- joint pain
- muscle strains
Its ability to narrow blood vessels may aid in treating migraines, but no clinical trials support the use of horseradish for migraines.
Linden, lime tree (Tilia spp.) – Linden, also known as lime tree or Tilia, is a tree whose blossoms have been used in medicinal teas in European and Native American cultures. The plant has been used to calm nerves and ease anxiety, tension, and inflammatory problems, among other issues. The blossoms can also be used in tinctures, liquid extracts, and capsules. Linden has been shown to have sweat-inducing and sedative properties. It’s been used to relieve tension and sinus headaches, calm the mind, and induce sleep. The flowers have also been used to relieve nasal congestion and lower high blood pressure. This tea is sometimes used in modern alternative medicine for the treatment of headaches and migraines. There currently isn’t enough research about the effect of linden tea on migraines to recommend it as an effective natural remedy.
Mullein (Verbascum) – Since ancient times, people in Europe and Asia have been using mullein for medicinal purposes, treating inflammatory conditions, spasms, diarrhea, and migraines. The leaves and flowers can be used for extracts, capsules, poultices, and dried preparations. Tinctures of the plant are used in modern homeopathic therapies for migraine treatment. Research has shown that mullein has diuretic properties.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean region. Medicinal uses have included the treatment of:
- muscle and joint pain
- memory problems
- concentration difficulties
- nervous disorders
- circulatory problems
- liver ailments
Rosemary oil can be diluted and applied topically or inhaled for aromatherapeutic purposes. The plant’s leaves can be dried and ground for use in capsules. It can also be used in teas, tinctures, and liquid extracts. Rosemary is believed to have antimicrobial, antispasmodic, and antioxidant effects. Still, its ability to reduce migraine pain hasn’t been well studied.
Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens) – Teaberry, popularly known as wintergreen, is native to eastern North America. This edible plant, made famous by Teaberry gum, has long held a place in folk medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties. It can be used to make teas, tinctures, and oil extracts. Teaberry also has been used historically as an astringent and as a stimulant to fight fatigue. Most important for people who experience migraines is teaberry’s potential to treat neuralgias and headaches as well as stomach pain and vomiting. You can brew teaberry in hot water for 3 to 4 minutes and drink the mixture to experience its healing effects.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) – Valerian is native to Europe and Asia. It’s now also commonly found in North America. Use of valerian traces back to ancient Greece and Rome from the time of Hippocrates. It was recognized as a remedy for insomnia a few centuries later. Valerian was known as “all-heal” in the 1500s, as it was used to treat a multitude of ailments. These included:
- heart palpitations
It’s sometimes used in the modern treatment of headaches, but valerian hasn’t been researched enough to determine its usefulness in the treatment of migraine pain. Valerian is usually taken as a supplement, tea, or tincture made from the dried roots. Liquid extract is also available in capsule form. Valerian root capsules are widely sold in the United States.
Willow (Salix spp.) – Willow bark extract (WBE) was used in the development of aspirin, a well-known over-the-counter pain reliever, fever reducer, and anti-inflammatory drug. WBE contains an anti-inflammatory ingredient called salicin. A 2012 study suggests WBE is also an effective antioxidant. Willow is a tree found in Europe, Asia, and North America. It’s been used since the time of Hippocrates (400 B.C.), when people would chew the bark for its anti-inflammatory and fever-relieving effects. Willow was later used in China and Europe for headaches, osteoarthritis, tendonitis, and lower back pain.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) – Believed to be named after Achilles, the Greek mythical hero, yarrow has historically been used to heal wounds and slow blood loss. Other folk remedies encourage the use of yarrow to treat inflammatory conditions, muscle spasms, and anxiety or insomnia. More recent folk remedies have used yarrow to relieve colds, flus, coughs, and diarrhea. Yarrow has also been shown to have pain-relieving, anti-anxiety, and antimicrobial properties. Although more research is needed, the plant contains anti-inflammatory properties that may provide relief to people who experience migraines. Yarrow can be used in a variety of forms, including capsules and tinctures.
Warnings and potential complications – Although many herbal remedies can be safe when used correctly, they may also have side effects like any prescription medication would. Some herbs can interact with medications, such as oral contraceptives or heart drugs. Herbs can be dangerous or even deadly when misused. Some have little research to back claims, verify toxicity levels, or identify potential side effects.
Choose your tools to fight migraines – Treating a migraine is often more complicated than taking a simple pain reliever. Migraines are complex, so you may need several different tools to treat your symptoms quickly and effectively. Use these steps the next time you feel a migraine coming on, and you may find success in managing the pain. Over time, you can develop the best treatment plan for you.
Step 10: Learn What to Avoid
Diet plays a vital role in preventing migraines. Many foods and beverages are known migraine triggers, such as:
- foods with nitrates including hot dogs, deli meats, bacon, and sausage
- cheese that contains the naturally-occurring compound tyramine, such as blue, feta, cheddar, Parmesan, and Swiss
- alcohol, especially red wine
- foods that contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer
- foods that are very cold such as ice cream or iced drinks
- processed foods
- pickled foods
- dried fruits
- cultured dairy products such as buttermilk, sour cream, and yogurt
Get Rid of a Migraine Fast Without Any Medicine – http://home-remedies.wonderhowto.com
Drink Grape Juice – Though you probably haven’t sipped grape juice in years (aside from “adult” grape juice, that is), it’s the perfect go-to remedy when a migraine strikes. According to First Choice Smart and Home-Cure, grapes are an excellent pain reliever. Take a drink of all-natural grape juice, or create your own at home to find relief. Blend fresh, ripe grapes with a bit of water, and you’ll drink your discomfort away.
Eat Nuts – If you suffer from migraines on a regular basis, consider making one small switch to your diet: more nuts. Nuts can work as both a pain reliever and a preventative method to stave off future onsets. As Everyday Roots writes, many varieties of nuts contain an important “ingredient” called salicin. Salicin is a pain blocking agent that’s present in many of today’s medications. Though you may want to reach for an over the counter pain reliever when migraines strike, choose nuts—they offer the same important ingredients.
Add a Little Pressure – Although it may feel as though your head is undergoing an incredible amount of pressure and pain, getting in touch with certain pressure points on the body can alleviate your discomfort. When you begin to feel the first tinges of a migraine, place a bit of pressure on your craniosacral system. By pressing with your fingers on certain migraine-specific spots, you can force your brain to relax and rest, restarting it from a pain-free place. Though it increases pressure in the cranium, it works to send the tension that’s building in your brain elsewhere.
Grab Ginger Root – Ever tried chewing on a piece of ginger in its natural form? You may want to try it after hearing about its pain relieving powers. According to Everyday Roots, ginger root affects the way our body handles inflammation and pain. When we ingest ginger root, it sparks the production of lipids within our cells—and lipids work to calm the nerves that react when we feel pain. Ginger root stops our body from recognizing and responding when migraines occur, and can even soothe feelings of nausea. All you need to do is chew on a piece, or sip some ginger root tea.
Increase Your Turkey Intake – You’ve heard that eating turkey on Thanksgiving can make you sleepy thanks to its tryptophan. Yet did you know that it can also help you to find relief from migraine pain faster? Tryptophan is an important amino acid that stimulates dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is the “happy” chemical, one that helps us to feel great, and it is also a key component in the release of serotonin within the body. Serotonin works to relax the body, alleviating anxiety, worry, and negativity. Yet even more importantly, as tryptophan helps to produce dopamine and, in turn, serotonin, it relaxes the muscles surrounding the brain, soothing the capillaries of the scalp.
Massage the Pain Away – A regular massage may seem like a luxury, but when a migraine strikes, it can be the best way to relive all that’s built up in your head. Learn how to give yourself a calming and pain relieving massage, and you can prevent your migraines from growing worse, quickly. As you stretch and massage both the neck and the base of the scalp, you will stimulate blood flow and relaxation, sending the pain away from your head.
Try a Different Temperature – There are two tried-and-true methods that most of us turn to when facing an injury and its pain: hot or cold therapy. While it might seem odd to consider placing an iced or heated pack on your head, it can make all of the difference in just a few minutes. As Stress Knots and the Mayo Clinic both recommend, you simply need to choose which works best for your migraines. When you apply heat, your muscles will relax and pain will lower. If you choose icy cold, you will numb the areas most in pain to all that they are feeling.
Get Herbal – Although it may be painful to consider heading out into the sunlight when you’re struggling to stop a migraine, getting close to nature can help—if you have an herb garden nearby. Ginger, peppermint, and cayenne are known natural pain relievers that can end both the headache and nausea that often comes with the migraine. As Food Matters writes, ingesting these herbs offers the fastest relief. Create an at-home herbal tea by mixing cayenne pepper, fresh ginger, and peppermint leave together and steeping them in hot water for 15 minutes. If you aren’t a fan of hot tea, you can also create a migraine-soothing lemonade mix that combines lavender and lemons into one healing remedy.
Acupuncture – Hair-thin needles are inserted into the skin at designated points in order to offer relief from pain. Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese technique in which very fine needles go into points on the body. Practitioners say it helps ease headaches by making the body better able to resist or overcome illnesses by correcting energy imbalances. According to studies, acupuncture may make the body release chemicals that block pain, such as endorphins. It also may stimulate the brain to give off other chemicals and hormones that send signals between different types of cells, including those of the immune system. Acupuncture seems to help with a variety of health problems in addition to headaches. The World Health Organization recognizes more than 30 conditions, from allergies to tennis elbow, that the practice can help. Other studies, though, suggest that it mainly helps people only because they believe it will work, called a placebo effect. What makes acupuncture a unique pain treatment is that its effects may be long-lasting. In one study, it eased chronic pain in the neck and shoulder areas and the headaches it caused, with the effects lasting for months.
Biofeedback – This involves becoming aware of changes in muscle tension, heart rate, and skin temperature. By recognizing these changes, you can take medication earlier or resort to other preventative methods. Biofeedback helps you use information (feedback) about muscle tension, skin temperature, brain waves, and other body signals to reduce your stress. Small metal sensors, called electrodes, are placed on your skin to measure those signs. A machine shows that data as numbers, electrical waves, or sounds on a screen. Studies show there are differences in blood flow in the brain during migraine attacks and in the pain-free periods in between. Using biofeedback training, a person can change the blood flow to the brain and better manage a headache. Most studies on biofeedback show that it makes headaches shorter and happen less often in children and adults. In general, its effects seem similar to many drugs that treat headaches, and it can be part of early treatment for migraines
Reflexology – Perhaps massaging your toes could help eliminate your headache. Reflexology is an ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) healing art in which certain points or zones of the feet are stimulated to encourage healing in corresponding parts of the body. Researchers still aren’t entirely sure just how reflexology works, yet it is indeed effective at treating a variety of conditions, including headaches.
You can try stimulating some headache-relieving reflexology points at home. There are four headache remedy pressure points on your feet and one on the hand that when stimulated can help give you some headache and migraine relief. First massage the area between your big toe and the second toe. If your headache is in your right temple, massage this point on your left foot and vice versa. To relieve a headache, you can also press the Tai Chong or Liver 3 point on the top of your foot. Again massage this point on the foot opposite to the side of your head where you feel pain. Or, massage both feet if you have pain on both sides of your head.
There is helpful another point near the outer edge of the top of the foot, located where the bones of the pinky toe and the second to last toe intersect. Press and hold this point for 30 to 60 seconds to relieve headaches that run through the side of the head to the forehead. Finally, you can also stimulate the tops of the big toes, under the toenail to the base of the toe, to relieve headache pain located in the face, such as in the sinuses. Do not stimulate these points if you are pregnant.
Natural relaxation techniques for migraine headache relief – A person who suffers from chronic migraine headaches can benefit from relaxation. A few different methods that can help promote relaxation are:
- Rhythmic breathing: We typically breathe quickly because we are often in a rush. Rhythmic breathing entails slowing down your breath. Inhale for counts of five and exhale for counts of five until you can breathe that way without counting.
- Deep breathing: When we breathe quickly, we also breathe shallowly. For deep breathing, inhale to completely fill your abdomen and then exhale to let it all back out.
- Visualized breathing: This method is best done with your eyes closed, imaging the tension in your body being released with every exhale.
- Progressive muscle relaxation: Turn your thoughts onto your body – picture your headache or other pain and focus on relaxing those body parts to release it.
- Relax to music: If you need an aid in relaxation, calming music can be used.
- Mental imaginary relaxation: Imagine relaxing scenarios like a park, a warm spring day, or even a beach. Whatever image relaxes you, picture it.
Stress Management – Life events that increase stress, anxiety, and depression have been linked with chronic migraines and other headaches. Studies show that a combination of stress management and some antidepressant drugs reduce headaches and the use of pain medications. Along with a regular practice of relaxation, it may also help to get enough sleep and eat a healthy diet.
Regular Diet – Taking the time to eat at least three nutritious meals a day will prevent blood sugar drops that can be a common cause of migraines. Eating regularly spaced nutrient dense meals every day not only provides the body with the nutrients and calories it needs, it also assists the body in hormone and metabolism regulation.
Get More Magnesium – Magnesium is one of the most successful headache remedies, first of all, because it’s much safer than taking a painkiller. People who suffer from serious headaches, like migraines, often have low levels of magnesium, and several studies suggest that magnesium may reduce the frequency of migraine attacks in people with low levels. Those prone to low counts of magnesium include people with diabetes, heart disease, alcoholism as well as those on diuretics for blood pressure.
Magnesium may prevent the wave of brain signaling, called cortical spreading depression, which produces the visual and sensory changes that are common when experiencing a headache, especially a migraine. Magnesium can block the pain-transmitting chemicals in the brain, and it can improve platelet function, which will help your body react to injuries and prevent bleeding.
Taking 200–600 mg of magnesium a day can reduce the frequency of headache attacks. Both oral and intravenous magnesium are widely available, extremely safe and inexpensive. Magnesium can be used safely by women who are pregnant. The most frequent side effect of magnesium is diarrhea, but lowering your dose or taking it less often can eliminate that issue.
To increase your daily magnesium intake, eat more fiber. Dietary sources of magnesium include beans, whole grains, seeds, nuts and vegetables like broccoli, squash and leafy greens. Dairy products, meats, chocolate and coffee also include decent levels of magnesium.
B-Complex Vitamins – Many B vitamins are involved in the formation of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which may be deficient in people who suffer from migraines. Sadly, millions of Americans are coming up short on one or more of the B vitamins and this is causing energy slumps, unhealthy blood cell and adrenal effects, foggy thinking and headache symptoms.
A B-complex vitamin includes a group of eight water-soluble vitamins: thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, biotin and pantothenic acid. Together, these vitamins improve brain cells, circulation, immune function and cardiovascular health. B vitamins are water-soluble, so an overdose is rare. If there is extra in your system, it will be flushed out through urine. Studies indicate that while vitamin B2 may reduce the frequency and duration of migraines, vitamin B3 calms vascular headaches by opening up blood vessels to increase blood flow. Try taking one B-complex vitamin a day, as the benefits go beyond headache relief.
A fascinating study on mood and psychological strain associated with chronic work stress measured the effectiveness of a three-month administration of two forms of high-dose vitamin B complex. Sixty participants were involved in the trial that assessed their personality, work demands, mood, anxiety and strain. The vitamin B complex treatment groups fared considerably better than the control group, reporting substantial lower levels of “personal strain” as well as an overall “reduction in confusion and depressed/dejected mood” after 12 weeks. The outcome suggested that vitamin B complex vitamins were a cost-effective treatment for the mood and psychological strain effects of occupational stress.
Try a Gluten Free Diet – When people with gluten sensitivity eat foods containing gluten, it can lead to a headache. According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, patients who have undiagnosed celiac disease and migraine headaches often see either complete resolution of migraine headaches, or a significant reduction in the frequency and strength of symptoms after giving up gluten. You may not have celiac disease, but a gluten sensitivity that gives you a headache. If this is the case, you don’t have to cut out gluten completely — instead, try to cut back on your daily intake. Start this headache remedy by eliminating gluten for three weeks, then introduce foods containing gluten slowly. Pay attention to the way you feel when adding more gluten to your diet and find your happy balance. Listen to your body you will find out how much of a food group you can eat without triggering symptoms.
Stay Hydrated – The dehydrating effects of coffee, sugary drinks and alcohol can certainly leave us with a killer headache. Most Americans simply aren’t getting enough water, which in itself can relive headache pain and symptoms. This simple (and free) remedy will keep you feeling full, energized and headache-free. You can also quench your thirst and stay hydrated with fruits and veggies — some even have a water content that’s over 90 percent. Try adding these nutritious fruits and veggies to your diet in order to stay hydrated throughout the day:
- green peppers
A study done at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery concludes that there is indeed a water-deprivation headache. The study notes that while water deprivation is common and recognized by the public, it’s not described in medical literature. The research indicates that headaches from a lack of water include impaired concentration and irritability, too!
Detox to Reduce Triggers – Over the years, migraine painkillers become less effective, causing rebound headaches instead. That’s when you know it’s time for a migraine detox diet. By eliminating migraine toxins like food migraine triggers and medications, and introducing natural ingredients, you effectively improve your body’s natural response to inflammation. Specifically, migraine toxins are all ingredients that enter your body and trigger a migraine attack, yet have no effect on people who don’t suffer migraines. In the detox diet, all medications, including painkillers for migraines, whether over-the-counter (OTC) or prescribed, are considered toxic.
Migraine toxins may include:
- Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers
- Hormone pills
- Vasodilators (hypertension medications, nitrates)
- Preservatives (nitrates, nitrites, tannins)
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG, Important: Read Where’s the MSG? Hidden MSG Lurks Everywhere)
- Food coloring
- Artificial sweeteners
- Citrus fruits and juices
- Overripe fruits (avocadoes, bananas, red plums)
- Dried fruits (raisins, figs, prunes)
- Legumes (most beans, peas in pod)
- Nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, onions)
- Fermented condiments (pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi )
- Aged cheese
- Yogurt, sour cream
- Cured, smoked, or processed meats and fish
- Yeasted breads or pastries
- Tree nuts and peanuts
The following nutrients are supported by scientific evidence:
Coenzyme Q-10 (CoQ-10): CoQ10 is a vitamin-like nutrient that has been featured in numerous controlled studies, such as this study published by the National Library of Medicine, in which 150 mg of coenzyme Q10 per day greatly benefited more than 60% of the test subjects involved.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): Riboflavin is an essential B vitamin that is also beneficial with migraines. In this study, 59% of patients who received 400 mg of riboflavin each day for three months experienced dramatic health benefits.
Detox Bath to Reduce Tension – A detox isn’t just for cleaning your body, but also for ridding your body of toxins that will make you sick and can be one of the best preventative headache remedies. To bring toxins to the surface of your skin, make the water as hot as you can tolerate; then, as you sit in the cooling water, the your body will release the toxins. You can dress up your detox bath to boost its tension-reducing capabilities:
Add a cup of baking soda to hot bath water. Baking soda kills bacteria, leaves your skin clean and smooth, and minimizes skin irritability — making it a handy and inexpensive product.
Add essential oil to your bath water — there are so many surprising essential oil uses and benefits. The soothing, calming, invigorating and cooling qualities of these oils will release any pent-up tension that your body is holding on to, offering pain relief. Try lavender, peppermint, lemongrass, frankincense or sandalwood oil.
Add two cups of apple cider vinegar to hot bath water. The ACV draws excess uric acid out of the body, and it provides joint pain, arthritis, gout and headache relief. ACV can also soothe sunburn, heal poison ivy, kill fungus and tone your skin — so there are some extra health benefits to this easy headache remedy.
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