A migraine is more than just a particularly bad headache. In addition to pain on one or both sides of your head, migraines are usually accompanied by other symptoms, including visual disturbances, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and vomiting, or lightheadedness. Migraines can be a severe disruption to your life, and it can also be difficult to find relief from the pain and other symptoms. Sometimes, it helps to look outside the box for migraine relief—for some people, natural migraine treatments can be the most effective way to stop the pain. Take a look at some natural remedies that you may not have heard of.
Essential oils can be applied topically or diffused and used for aromatherapy. Either way, essential oils are a safe and natural treatment with no side effects when used correctly. Peppermint oil is a good choice for migraine sufferers. When you apply it topically to your forehead, it stimulates blood flow to the area, which can help bring the migraine to an end.
If your migraines are triggered by stress or anxiety, lavender oil may be a good choice for you. Lavender is an effective calming agent and can relieve insomnia and feelings of restlessness. Put a few drops in a diffuser for a relaxing effect that can help soothe your migraine away. Eucalyptus and rosemary oil are also effective choices for headache relief.
There are a number of herbal remedies that may help to lessen the intensity or duration of a migraine or decrease the frequency of migraine occurrences. One herb that's shown promise in clinical trials is butterbur root. In a 2004 study, migraine sufferers who took 150 milligrams a day saw a 48 percent decrease in their migraine frequency. Other studies have demonstrated effectiveness with even lower dosages, and the remedy may be safe and effective even for children who suffer from migraines.
However, butterbur does have some side effects. It can cause intestinal symptoms like nausea and stomach pains. In its pure form, butterbur contains alkaloids that are toxic to the liver and may cause cancer. Therefore it's important to ensure that if you take butterbur, you take it in a processed form that is purified to remove the alkaloids.
Other herbs that are thought to help migraine sufferers include feverfew, ginkgo biloba, white willow bark, lemon balm, cayenne, and turmeric. Be sure to check for any possible interactions with any other drugs or herbs you're taking before taking any of these supplements.
In some cases, your migraines might be caused by a vitamin deficiency, so taking more of the vitamin that you're missing can result in less migraines. Magnesium and vitamin B-2 are some of the vitamins that may help migraine sufferers. Studies have shown them to be more effective than placebos in migraine treatment, though more study is still needed.
You may be able to increase your magnesium and B-2 levels through dietary changes. Nuts, seafood, and dark leafy greens are good sources of magnesium, and milk, eggs, and spinach are good places to find B-2.
Know When to See a Doctor
If natural methods or over-the-counter drugs work for you, that's great. But it's also important to know when to seek medical attention. You can start with your family doctor, but for difficult cases, you may need to see a neurologist—a doctor with special knowledge of nervous system disorders. If your headaches are not responding to treatment, if you get them two or more times a week, or if they impede your ability to perform tasks and live your life, these are all good signs that you may need to see a neurologist for further testing. Look for one at a facility like the Billings Clinic.
Migraine headaches are no fun, but there are many different treatment options, and it's usually just a matter of finding that one works best for you. Keep your doctor in the loop when you try natural treatments and stay open to prescription drugs and other medical therapies as well. That way, you'll find a safe and effective way to treat your migraine headaches.