Migraine is debilitating and most of the time frustrating. But here are some ways to lessen migraine occurrence and improve the quality of life among migraine sufferers. I know someone close to me who has been suffering from migraine since childhood and the first 5 really helped him.
What to do?
Although researchers haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly why migraines attack, they do understand the physiological changes that occur when a migraine strikes. When the nerve cells in the brain become overstimulated, they release chemicals that cause inflammation and swelling in the blood vessels in the neck and brain. The interventions listed below work by addressing these issues. Here are seven surprising natural cures for migraines that help prevent and reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks.
Exercise has long been recommended to migraine sufferers, and now there’s new evidence to support the theory that physical activity appears to help prevent migraines. In a 2011 randomized, controlled study from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, researchers found that aerobic exercise was as effective at preventing migraines as the preventive migraine medication topiramate (brand name Topamax). A third of the patients in the three-month study exercised on a stationary bike three times per week for 40 minutes, while another third took a topiramate regimen that was gradually increased to the highest tolerable dose (a maximum of 200 milligrams per day).
The exercisers and drug group both experienced a similar reduced number of migraines, but 33 percent of topiramate users also experienced adverse side effects, while the exercisers reported none. The researchers concluded that regular exercise may be an option for migraine sufferers who don’t want to adhere to a daily medication regimen, and the medical community agrees that the findings are encouraging.
How it helps: Regular, gentle exercise helps to reduce tension and ward off stress, a well-known trigger for many migraine sufferers. Exercise also triggers the release of endorphins, which act as a mild sedative.
How much helps: The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week, ideally spread out over the course of the week. Beware that intense exercise can actually trigger rather than prevent migraine, so don’t overdo it.
Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, is found in certain foods and supplements. It helps protect cells from oxidative damage and is involved in energy production. In a trial measuring the effectiveness of riboflavin in preventing migraines, 59 percent of patients who took 400 mg of riboflavin daily for three months experienced a 50 percent or greater reduction in migraine occurrence.
How it helps: Riboflavin is an effective preventive treatment for migraines. It has been widely reported to significantly reduce the incidence of migraine headaches when consumed at high levels (400 mg per day), although it doesn’t seem to help reduce the pain or length of a migraine once one occurs.
How much helps: The recommendation is 400 mg per day for three months. Researchers recommend taking riboflavin with a B-complex supplement, since riboflavin increases the absorption of other essential nutrients, including iron, zinc, folate, vitamin B3, and vitamin B12. In addition, vitamin B1 can help increase levels of riboflavin.
Because our bodies can’t make magnesium, we must rely on dietary and/or supplement sources to get it — and magnesium deficiency been directly linked to migraines in a number of major studies. Some estimates say that as many as three out of four adults in the U.S. may be deficient in magnesium.
How it helps: Magnesium helps relax nerves and muscles and transmits nerve impulses throughout the body and brain. In addition, magnesium helps prevent nerves from becoming overexcited. In short, this mineral aids in the prevention and reduction of migraines.
How much helps: Experts are split on how much magnesium to take for migraine prevention; some recommend 200 to 600 mg per day, while others recommend as much as 1,000 mg daily. Talk to your doctor to find a regimen that works best for you. If you take magnesium supplements, use chelated forms (such as magnesium citrate or magnesium oxide). This means that the magnesium is connected with another molecule in order to aid its absorption.
There are some small-scale studies that show the ingestion of fish oil can help reduce migraines and head pain, thanks to its omega-3 fatty acids, which promotes heart health. The American Heart Association states that the ingredients in fish oil may help reduce inflammation, blood clotting, lower blood pressure, and steady heart rhythm. Those actions in turn may help reduce head pain because it may reduce the inflammation of blood cells that press and pinch on nerves.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is added to food to enhance its flavor. It is derived from an amino acid, called glutamic acid, which occurs naturally in various foods. Many people who suffer headaches find that foods containing MSG triggers migraines or other types of headaches, possibly due to the fact that it excites our neurons. Make sure you read food labels to check if the product has MSG, the FDA is requires companies to list it, however it can also be hidden as a component of other ingredients. Watch for some of these words, which can give away “hidden” MSG, and be extra cautious around Chinese food, processed meats, canned vegies, gravy/soup/dip mixes, and soy-based items.
Improving your posture can make all the difference in the world when it comes to tension-type headaches. Many of us spend our days working in an office or sitting down at a computer with little to no movement, and many of us are guilty of poor posture. We slouch, slump, and hunch forward, which strains our muscles and creates nasty headaches. Try using an ergonomic chair if you’re sitting down a lot, and make a conscious effort to sit up tall but relaxed, with your shoulders back, your chest open, and your neck not sticking too far forward. Working on strengthening core muscles helps a lot with posture, since balance and the strength to support ourselves properly comes from mostly from our center.
On average we don’t drink enough water daily, and that alone is cause for a headache. Coffee, alcohol, sugary drinks-all can dehydrate you (hence the pounding headache that comes along with a hangover) and should be avoided. As soon as your head starts to hurt, drink a tall glass of water, and then sip throughout the day. Gradually the pain will start to ease up, and you’ll be hurting less and well-hydrated to boot. Simply drinking water may seem too obvious or simple to actually work as a headache remedy but it can, and often time’s does. We humans often just seem to feel the need to make things more complicated than they are.
You use your head for a lot of things, maybe not all things, but hopefully for a lot of them, and a throbbing pain in your noggin can really make it hard to function. While over-the-counter pain killers may temporarily relieve the discomfort, they’re not going to prevent headaches from returning full force-or worse- in the future. Give some headache home remedies a shot, and you’ll end up saving yourself a headache (probably lots of headaches) in the future.
Best if you consult your doctor and have a total medical check up particularly MRI to find out if there’s an underlying cause behind your migraines.