Migraine headaches can be debilitating, causing severe pain for hours or days. The pain is often intense, with a throbbing or pulsing sensation and can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.
There are several pharmaceutical treatments, both by prescription and available over the counter, for migraines, but they often have side effects that include dizziness and grogginess. Finding the right one is often a hit-or-miss proposition that takes years because there are more misses than hits.
There are several natural remedies that you can use to help avoid the onset of migraines or that help you treat the pain. Here are seven, courtesy of NaturalSociety.com:
- Avoid processed foods— The best way to deal with migraines is to stop them before they start. Many people, through trial, error and observation, have noted their migraine triggers and learned to avoid them. One of the most prevalent triggers is processed foods, or specifically, one of the dozens of chemicals contained therein. Many processed foods contain artificial sweeteners and preservatives that are known to trigger migraine headaches in some people. A common preservative, monosodium glutamate (MSG), is just one of many preservatives that have been found to cause severe reactions including migraine headaches. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame and Splenda have been known to be triggers. Use natural sweeteners like honey and stevia to reduce the chance of migraines.
- Avoid certain foods— If your headaches are frequent you might benefit from keeping a food log. A food log can help you find patterns which can help you find your food trigger, if you have one. Among the foods that are common culprits are affeinated drinks, alcohol, chocolate, peanuts, grains with gluten and dairy products.
- Lavender therapy— Herbalists have used lavender for many years for the treatment of conditions including insomnia, post surgery pain, anxiety, fungal infections and headaches. Migraine sufferers experience increased inflammation in blood vessels and spasms in the neck and eye muscles. Lavender acts as an analgesic and reduces inflammation in those that suffer from migraines. Lavender treatments can be administered in any number of ways including inhalation therapy, dried flower sachets, teas or hot packs.
- Butterbur— Acting as a beta-blocker, butterbur controls blood pressure, reducing inflammation and stabilizes blood flow to the brain. Because some butterbur treatments contain chemicals (pyrrolizidine alkaloids) which can cause damage to the liver, it is important to choose only products that are certified and carry a “PA-free” label
- Lemongrass— Scientists from Griffith University found that Australian Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon Ambiguus) has been used for an untold number of years by indigenous Australians as traditional medicine, and with good reason. They say the effects of the plant could be as “good as aspirin when it comes to treating headaches,” only this is one of many herbal remedies for headaches without the side-effects associated with OTC medication. TAZO makes a very tasty lemongrass tea.
- Tryptophan therapy— Tryptophan is an amino acid that simulates the brain to produce dopamine which releases serotonin. Serotonin elevates moods, relaxes the small muscles around the capillaries in the scalp, and reduces tension and anxiety. Consuming a high quality tryptophan supplement is the best way to get more of this helpful amino acid.
- Herbal pain relief tea— Other herbs that are beneficial in the treatment of migraines include, peppermint, cayenne pepper and ginger. Ginger is especially useful to combat the nausea that often accompanies migraine headaches. To use the three herbs together in tea as a natural pain reliever, mix a one inch piece of ginger with a teaspoon of dried peppermint and a pinch of cayenne in boiling water. Allow the mixture to seep for 15 minutes before drinking. Sweeten only with honey or stevia.
And this one is on the house: Scientific research has shown that acupuncture — an ancient Chinese healing process of inserting small needles along pressure points of the body — can also help alleviate migraines, tension headaches and other chronic headaches. Of the 4,000 test participants, 62 percent experienced relief of symptoms.