Go Against the ’Graine: 5 Natural Remedies for Migraines


If you experience migraines, you’re likely all too familiar with the pain, nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, and blurred vision that accompany these incurable headaches. But you don’t have to live with the symptoms—or with the side effects of prescription drugs. If you’re looking for a natural remedy for your migraines, check out these five options:

1. Diet

Adding a cup of coffee to your morning routine a couple days a week could help reduce pain—but only up to a point. Go too far and the extra caffeine will actually cause more headaches. For some folks, ingesting certain types of food and drink—like processed meats, dairy, chocolate, and red wine—can also cause migraines. Get to know your triggers so you can avoid them (you may even want to keep a migraine journal to help you track potential culprits). In addition to drinking plenty of water and maintaining a regular eating schedule, you may want to consider taking supplements (like magnesium).

2. Oils

The oils of certain herbs have proven pain-reducing effects. To reduce migraine pain, rub your temples with a few drops of basil oil, which can relax your muscles, or peppermint, which has vasoconstricting and vasodilating properties that help control blood flow. In fact, even the aroma of peppermint can be beneficial. You also can apply lavender oil directly to your skin—or, if you’d prefer, put two to four drops of oil into two to three cups of boiling water and breathe deep.

3. Relaxation

Stress is often linked to migraines, so try meditation, yoga, tai chi, aromatherapy, herbal tea, or massage (even just rubbing your scalp) to help you relax and reduce the frequency of your migraines. Getting a full night’s sleep will help, too—but as with caffeine, too much of a good thing can be bad, so limit your snoozin’ to right around eight hours a night. Looking for additional ways to manage stress? Try decluttering your schedule—or simply managing your time more wisely—and cutting back on your use of electronics.

4. Buckwheat

Buck-what? Unless you frequent the baking aisle of your local health food store, you probably haven’t heard of buckwheat, but if you suffer from migraines, you’ll want to get up close and personal with this grain-like seed. Why? It contains a flavonoid called rutin, which has antioxidant properties that can reduce the inflammation causing your migraines. For extra relief and better sleep, try a buckwheat pillow.

5. Ginger

This popular spice is good for more than just upset stomachs and stir-fry. Though the jury is still deliberating, the results of several studies do make a good case for the efficacy of ginger in reducing the intensity and frequency of migraine symptoms. In fact, a recent study in Phytotherapy Research indicates that using ginger powder alone (or in conjunction with feverfew) at the onset of a mild headache can combat the symptoms of migraines (as well as their duration and severity) as effectively as using triptans (tryptamine-based drugs)—but with fewer adverse effects. Ginger, FTW.

While some folks still need prescription drugs to properly manage their migraines, these remedies should provide you with at least a bit of relief. So, next time you’re feeling a migraine coming on, thwart the symptoms by having a cup o’ joe, taking a ginger supplement, sniffing a leftover candy cane, and taking a nap on your buckwheat pillow.

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