Home Remedies for Migraine Relief and Prevention
Find out which alternative home remedies for migraines are worth ditching your medication for.
Home Remedies for Migraine Headache
If you get migraines, then you know they feel like hell on earth. They can bring throbbing pain, vomiting, and nausea—so much more than a headache. To make matters worse, they don’t have a known cause or cure.
While medication is one option for migraine prevention and relief, there are steps you can take at home that might help, too. Some people who get migraines rely solely on home remedies and lifestyle adjustments, while others use them as a complement to medication. For some, cutting back on medication use can also mean avoiding medication overuse headaches, which can be caused by regular, long-term use of pain relievers.
While there are many methods for easing symptoms, a major part of migraine treatment is identifying your triggers so you can avoid future attacks. That often means keeping a headache journal to zero in on what seems to cause your symptoms—but you might need help figuring that out. "If a person is experiencing chronic migraines, even after making dietary and lifestyle changes and attempting to address the root of the problem, then it’s time to seek advice from a healthcare professional," says Josh Axe, D.C., D.N.M., C.N.S., co-founder of Ancient Nutrition. Your doctor can help you figure out whether potential nutrient deficiencies or allergens may be playing a role, and, in general, help you develop a treatment regimen that makes sense for you.
With that in mind, if you're interested in trying home remedies for migraine prevention and relief, here are some of the best options.
Healthy fats, FTW. "Research suggests that omega-3 supplements may help to reduce severity and frequency of migraine symptoms," says Dr. Axe. The reason: Omega-3s help decrease inflammation, and people who get migraines tend to have hyperactive neurons that can be triggered by inflammation.
Those occasional late-night scrolls on your phone might be doing more damage than you realize. "A lack of sleep contributes to increased inflammation and altered hormone levels," explains Dr. Axe. Both are common migraine triggers, he says. "Stick to getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night and try to keep a sleep schedule, meaning you go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day," he advises.
Hey, even if it doesn't end up having an effect on your migraines, there are plenty of other good reasons to practice healthy sleep habits.
Considering the importance of sleep for migraine prevention, it probably won't surprise you that magnesium—which some people take to promote quality sleep—is another migraine relief home remedy. "Magnesium is involved in neurotransmitter function and blood circulation, plus it works to release pain-reducing hormones," explains Dr. Axe. "It's often used to relieve migraine pain and promote restful sleep that's crucial for keeping the body in balance."
"Stress can trigger migraines and make the pain worse," says Dr. Axe. "Both physical and emotional stress can affect your blood flow, contributing to the expansion and contraction of blood vessels that reach your head," which can then result in more migraine pain.
Ideally, you'd cut out any major stressors in your life. But, obviously, some sources of stress are unavoidable. A more realistic approach: Develop some go-to strategies and lifestyle habits that help you manage your stress levels on a regular basis, such as a daily meditation practice. Multiple small-scale studies suggest that practicing a type of meditation called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) might help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.
Yet another reason not to bail on that workout class you scheduled for today: Incorporating regular physical activity is one of the best ways to avoid chronic inflammation and, in turn, help prevent migraines, says Dr. Axe.
Specifically, yoga may be an especially helpful migraine relief home remedy. In one recent study, published in Neurology, one group of people with chronic migraines took medication while another took medication and practiced yoga as a complementary treatment. For three months, the subjects logged the frequency and pain intensity of their migraines and the degree to which their migraines interfered with daily life. Both groups showed improvement after three months, but the yoga group showed significantly more improvement than the other group across measures of migraine pain intensity and frequency.
More here: Can Yoga Really Help Treat a Migraine?
It might be time to finally hop on the essential oils bandwagon. "Using some essential oils topically may help to alleviate migraine pain," says Dr. Axe.
He suggests peppermint, which "has invigorating, pain-reducing and anti-inflammatory properties,” and lavender, which "works to ease muscular tension and stress." A migraine relief home remedy that doubles as an at-home spa moment? Win-win.