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Medically reviewed by Danielle Aberman Registered Dietitian (RD).
Let me start by saying as someone diagnosed with both vestibular migraine and Meniere’s disease I believe in medication. I personally take preventative medication daily and also use abortive and rescue medication as needed. So there will be no medication shaming happening here. I understand people with chronic pain and vestibular disease need them. That said, those with migraine have to watch how often we reach for our abortive and rescue medications to avoid rebound or medication overuse headache. So having effective migraine natural treatments to reach for in our migraine toolkit is essential. Here are five migraine natural treatments that are effective in managing my symptoms.
While Migraine Strong writes about the latest in migraine treatments, this is not medical advice. We are patient educators and all information you read should be discussed with your doctor.
My Top 5 Migraine Natural Treatments for Relief
1. Magnesium: The Essential Mineral
Magnesium deficiency is very common in those with migraine. This is likely because our bodies use so much of it while fighting pain. Yet, many who’ve had their magnesium levels checked were found not to be deficient. This is because the most common magnesium test, Serum Magnesium, is a poor indicator of true magnesium levels. The body will do all it can to keep magnesium levels in the “normal” range even when you still could be chronically low. Even more importantly, for people that are experiencing severe, repeated migraine attacks, taking magnesium to replenish a deficiency isn’t the only reason to consider a magnesium supplement.
It’s most beneficial quality is that it’s a natural pain reliever. It works by blocking glutamate receptors and the activity of glutamate in the central nervous system. The pain system in your brain is driven by the glutamate molecule. Magnesium essentially puts up a road closed sign for traveling pain. Because of that blockade, magnesium’s magic is in the way it reduces the pain signals and helps you recover from excess pain.
Magnesium for Vestibular Migraine
For those with vestibular migraine magnesium is also essential because of its natural calming qualities. When I began to recover from chronic dizziness, I would feel pretty stable in the morning, but as I was exposed to stimulus throughout the day, my dizziness would creep back in every afternoon. I bought a bubbly foot spa from Amazon and threw a handful of magnesium chloride flakes into the warm water and soaked my feet every evening for about an hour as I relaxed before bed. It always helped to kick that dizziness right back out. It was and still is one of the most effective strategies I use to knock out that uneasy feeling of being off balance. I keep topical magnesium in my bag at all times for this very reason!
Magnesium Research Says…
Magnesium has research backing it and showing it to be very effective in reducing the frequency and intensity of attacks. A fairly high dose is required for migraine prevention. Johns Hopkins Headache Center recommends 400mg 2x daily. Keep in mind all magnesium is not created equal because all forms do not have the same bioavailability. In Migraine Strong we often discuss magnesium glycinate because it is highly absorbable, naturally calming and is very unlikely to cause tummy issues. Magnesium threonate, while expensive, is another amazing form especially if you’re looking for a boost in energy or a way to reduce brain fog.
If your digestive tract can’t handle magnesium at all or you want a boost to your oral magnesium, using magnesium transdermally through chloride foot soaks or baths mentioned above is something to consider. Check out the migraine strong supplement dispensary to receive a discount on your supplement purchases. Find the appropriate dose and form for you by talking with your healthcare professional.
2. Go for Ginger – another proven natural remedy for migraine
The antihistamine and anti-inflammatory compounds of ginger make it an ideal choice as a natural remedy for migraine. Even more exciting, one 2014 study of 100 patients found that taking an eighth a teaspoon of powdered ginger at the onset of an attack was found to work as well as sumatriptan, but without the side effects. An additional benefit is that it can help ease nausea that often comes along with attacks. Many members of Migraine Strong report success with ginger when taken early enough. Others find it a helpful boost to another abortive like naproxen, while others find it causes a bit of heartburn.
I personally find the most success with Gaia Herbs Ginger Supreme. There is something special about their liquid gel caps for me. Though a bit more expensive, I like Pure Encapsulations powdered ginger capsules as well as they have less of a strong ginger taste to them than the liquid capsules. If you try this migraine natural treatment, be sure you take it with food to avoid the tummy upset that happens for some. Always plan to discuss new supplements with your healthcare professional.
3. Ahhhhhhhh The Allay Lamp
In my recent article reviewing the Allay Lamp for vestibular migraine relief I sang the praises of this delightful little green lantern. I can’t express strongly enough how surprised I am that this is one of my most loved tools in my relief kit. I think everyone with migraine should try this interesting, new, and very effective, research based strategy. Green light has been found to be the most soothing band of light and my migraine brain definitely agrees. There is not a day that this little light is not right next to me helping to soothe my grouchy migraine neurons. I use it as both a preventative and an abortive strategy and no longer have to sit in a darkened room to relieve symptoms.
Migraine Strong founder Eileen Zepp Zollinger explained how she finds migraine natural treatment relief with the Allay Lamp in her recent review of it as well. You can get 10% off when you purchase it though this link, use code MIGRAINESTRONG. Allay offers a money back guarantee so you have nothing to lose trying this soothing strategy.
4. Practice Relaxation
Stress and migraine attacks seem to be a vicious cycle. Feeling stressed can trigger a migraine attack and getting a migraine attack can trigger a stress response. The rise in cortisol levels and the drop in cortisol levels in your brain during stress let down (after a stress event) can trigger an attack as well. This makes intentionally practicing stress reduction techniques so important for those with migraine. Mastering calmness and keeping serotonin (happy hormone) and cortisol (stress hormone) at consistent levels in the brain should be your goal in life. Because when you have migraine you also have the hyper-responsive, sensitive brain that comes with it. Practicing stress reduction techniques will relax tense muscles, release tension, open up the neck, shoulders and spine to improve blood flow to your head. Simple deep breathing can better regulate of the stress hormone called cortisol and is considered a migraine natural treatment.
Other stress reducing, natural remedies for migraine include: tapping, warm bath, meditation, listening to calming music exercise, yoga, CBD, connecting with nature, biofeedback, massage, painting, and using weighted or soft fuzzy blankets during an attack and SO much more. Take a peek at my article on stress and migraine for many more ideas.
5. Essential Oils
I know what you’re thinking essential oils, really? But, I’m not talking about migraine cures here. I’m talking about strategies that are effective in making you more comfortable and easing symptoms during a migraine attack. I understand the seriousness of the neurological disease that is migraine. But, I also understand the need for finding products that help us cope through our attacks. Essential oils are migraine natural treatments. A 2016 study found peppermint oil to be as effective as an aspirin in relieving head pain. So for a very mild attack this is one oil to try. Peppermint oil contains menthol which can help relax muscles and ease pain. Even for severe attacks it can help focus your brain on the refreshing, invigorating feel instead of the pain.
I personally use lavender, peppermint, ginger and eucalyptus oils help release tight neck muscles and to soothe & relieve pain and nausea. Place a few drops on your temples, back of your neck or even all over your scalp for relief. Adding a few drops to your magnesium foot soak is delightful as well. Just inhaling their aroma can help to lift your mood by boosting the feel good hormone serotonin during an attack. Swiping a little under your nose can help block the scent of more triggering synthetic fragrances too. Using an essential oil roller ball along with a hot or cold pack is so comforting and soothing for pain. While I find breathing in and applying oils topically helpful, I do not recommend ingesting essential oils.
A few essential oil products I keep in my toolkit.
- Forces of Nature Migraine roller ball
- Migrasoothe lavender & peppermint roller ball
- Quease Ease Inhaler by Soothing Scents
I hope having a few effective natural remedies for migraine to reach for helps you find symptom relief!
This post was written by a person with migraine and is not meant as medical advice. The purpose is the share information and personal experiences. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any new treatments.
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