Are there natural ways to prevent migraines from ever happening and even lessen them when they do?
Do they work on everyone all the time?
Because we are all individuals.
Migraines are caused by a broad number of things.
Here’s just a few:
– Loss of sleep
– Missing meals
– Lack of core values
– Food sensitivities
– Environmental sensitivities
– Toxin overload
– Mitochondrial problems
– Muscular tension
– Excessive physical, mental or emotional stress
– Nutritional deficiencies
– Hormonal imbalance
– Sensitivities to additives, preservatives, chemicals
– Structural changes
– Medication overuse
Wow that’s a long list.
But there is one thing they all have in common I talked about in my last article here.
As always, I have to encourage everyone to take a holistic view if they ever want to address the root cause of their migraines and heal not only from their migraines, but all the comorbidities migraineurs usually have.
There are a few foundation principles to migraine health I talked about here.
But with all these aside;
– A proper dream
– Strong core values
– Daily tuning into yourself and what your body is asking for
– Ample play time
– Nutritious food, family and environment
There are lots of therapies, drugs, supplements and treatments you can use that can range from speeding recovery and dealing with the root cause to pushing disease deeper and masking pain.
That said, I am only going to focus on natural remedies that are plant based, “natural” or from deficiencies we get from life in the 21st century.
Here they are.
(As always, talk with your doctor before starting any diet changes or supplements as this is not intended to diagnose or cure any disease.)
Top 10 Natural Remedies for Migraine
(In no particular order)
I know I know, I had to. I’m a holistic junkie and I see the effects of diet on patients every day…
Studies have shown as much as 100% improvement in migraineurs with dietary changes… That’s big.
Do an elimination diet, ketogenic diet or get a food sensitivity test and find out what you are sensitive to first. No amount of water is going to stop a fire that you keep throwing gasoline on.
Next, it’s crucially important that you eat fresh whole foods. This means the food as it comes in a whole. Not food that’s been taken apart and reassembled into “food”. So instead of using store bought mayonnaise full of fillers, you can make your own with a healthy oil, egg yolk and lemon.
It’s really simple to eat a whole foods diet, it takes out so many of the different factors that have migraineurs struggling to find what’s aggravating their bodies and it takes out the food additives that cause even bigger problems than the foods.
So whole foods, but try and get as high quality as is available to you.
It’s almost better not to eat meat if you can’t find organic pastured meats as conventionally raised meat has become extremely toxic on many levels.
Always make sure to balance eating muscle meats, organ meats and bones/cartilage. Soups and broths are great here.
For hormonally linked migraines it’s important to eat meals that maintain a balanced blood sugar, don’t make you want to sleep, don’t give you gas and bloating and don’t give you cravings.
If they do any of these re-evaluate and mix it up!!!
You want to be eating lots of anti inflammatory and fresh foods, avoiding food that is processed, aged or fermented as migraines don’t react well to them.
I don’t want this to be all about what not to eat with migraines even though migraine studies have shown that if you have migraines chances are you are eating something (or digesting something) that your bodies not agreeing with.
But if you really want here’s a simple list of foods to eliminate for 3 weeks and then add in one at a time 4 days between each.
Alcohol (for adults)
It’s not that hard, but if you’re eating processed food it is because the above foods hide in most processed foods under secret names so follow the first part first.
Good luck and if you need support send me a message.
Magnesium is awesome. IV magnesium has been shown to “knock out” 85% of acute migraines!!
But it goes much deeper than this.
Magnesium has become depleted from our soils which has lead to low magnesium levels in our food and in us.
It’s showing up everywhere and there are huge communities dedicated to the great effects of magnesium supplementation.
Studies have found significant relief by both IV and oral supplements.
But it isn’t for everyone because not everyone’s deficient.
When taking supplements for magnesium it’s important to find one that absorbs well for you and doesn’t cause digestive distress like loose stools.
Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant and can relax the bowel movements right out of you.
Common forms of magnesium include (Chloride, Citrate, Glycinate, Malate, Oxide, Sulfate, Taurate, Threonate)
Supplementation can usually start between 200-400 mg and increased until you find a good dosage for yourself.
Magnesium is burned when the body is stressed so it can help alleviate tension with stress and improve sleep as well.
Butterbur is a plant that has shown some great effects in prophylaxis of migraines.
But it’s important you obtain an extract as it does have some toxic components that come with the plant called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs).
A German study of 289 adolescents with migraines found attack frequency was reduced by 63 percent and 91 percent of patients felt better.
It is also known to improve allergies, improve asthma, reduce oxidative stress, protects us from glutamate, is anti-inflammatory, blocks CGRP and more!!!
The studies have been done and as long as you find a safe PA free extract, butterbur is a life saver for some migraineurs.
4. Homeopathic Medicine
Homeopathic medicine is not only safe to take with other medications and has no contraindications but it’s also safe to take during pregnancy.
It’s based on curing the person instead of curing the disease and works with the body to lower stress response, improve the immune system and stop the disease process in its tracks.
It can also help with food sensitivities, accessory symptoms and other comorbidities that migraineurs usually have.
The downside? It will help you with much more than migraines as you heal, mood and energy improve, pain starts to fade and you can go back to living your life disease free.
Of course, it is a complex system that is based on the individual and not on broad symptoms so for any homeopathic remedy it’s recommended you go to a registered homeopath like myself and have a consultation.
Gingers a heavy hitter in the natural health world.
It’s highly anti-inflammatory, lowers CGRP, helps you clear out mucus when you’re sick and is a great pain reliever with studies to back.
At 2 hours, 32% of subjects receiving active medication and 16% of subjects receiving placebo were pain-free. At 2 hours, 63% of subjects receiving feverfew/ginger found pain relief (pain-free or mild headache) vs 39% for placebo.
One study found that ginger was just as effective as sumatriptan, but without the dangerous side effects of the triptans.
And taking ginger is relatively easy(if you like spice) and doesn’t have to many interactions but be sure to check with your doctor.
Personally i would always go with fresh raw ginger but ginger tea, ginger powder, and steeped ginger are all good options just find a way to get it in you and get enough of it.
Studies would say that at least 250mg is needed but it can vary between the type, how you are taking it and your personal digestion and absorption so you have to play around with it a bit.
As a bonus it’s also known for nausea which is a big double whammy with severe migraines.
Coenzyme Q10 is amazing. It’s so good for your body and every cell needs it to run.
There’s been many studies on coq10 and they are even better than migraine medications.
Studies like in 2002 61% of patients with a 50% reduction in migraine days per month, and in 2005 attack frequency lowered in 48% of patients by about 50%.
CoQ10 acts as an antioxidant and helps us correct energy metabolism in our cells.
Its an essential nutrient in our bodies but many migraineurs can be found to be deficient in it for various reasons.
Luckily we can supplement it to try it out.
Supplementation for it is generally body weight dependant and you can go anywhere from 1-3 mg of CoQ10 per kg of body weight.
So if you weigh 50kg you would do anywhere between 50-150mg of CoQ10 daily. But as with anything make sure you test it out for yourself and find what works for you. And always consult your doctor before making any changes.
7. Riboflavin(Vitamin B2)
B vitamins are extremely important for not only migraine health, but all health!!
They help us with a process called methylation which reduces homocysteine levels which are linked to migraines.
Lack of B vitamins affect all our processes but B vitamins are water soluble so they need to be ingested on a regular basis and if they are supplemented they need to be high quality.
If it’s cheap don’t buy it, it’s better to eat food sources of B vitamins and especially B2 or riboflavin which is a common migraine deficiency vitamin.
Food sources include: mushrooms, green leafy vegetables, high quality meats, seaweed, beet greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts, almonds, and asparagus
If you are already eating a high quality(organic) on a daily basis and still think your B2 levels might be low then you can take a B2 supplement or one of the many migraine supplements that have B2.
And remember that in nature, everything occurs in nutrient compounds, so every nutrient comes with fatty acids, amino acids, carbohydrates, enzymes, coenzymes, cofactors and minerals.
This means taking excess vitamins that are by themselves can actually do more harm than help.
Peppermint is another great acute reliever.
Peppermint oil is an extract from the peppermint plant and its main active ingredient is menthol.
Menthol studies have found great relief with a wide range of issues including nausea, IBS, carpal tunnel, oxidative stress, inflammation, muscle relaxation, fibromyalgia, and sinus congestion.
But for this we are talking about using it as an acute pain reliever.
A 2015 study found that when a menthol gel was applied to the neck and behind the ears of migraineurs in attacks that 28 percent of patients had no pain and another 28 percent of patients had only mild pain after two hours.
Another study found that on 35 patients it was significantly better for pain free and pain relief outcomes than placebo.
The easiest way to use peppermint or menthol would be in a gel or oil thats pre made for it but you can easily make one yourself with some high quality oil and menthol or peppermint oil.
9. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential to every function of our bodies and is actually not a vitamin. Vitamin D is actually a steroid hormone and incredibly important for both our health and our migraines.
Even though it is hard to get in the sun during a migraine, making sure you can get sun is crucial as not many foods will supply you with vitamin D.
Dietary sources include high quality pastured meats such as pork, wild fish such as cod, high quality eggs, raw milk and some mushrooms.
The ideal way to get vitamin D is through sun but diet also helps.
For the sun to generate vitamin D by hitting our skin it must be fairly high in the sky and we should get as much exposure as we can without burning.
When we use sunscreens we block the ability for our skin to produce vitamin D.
The catch here is that vitamin D takes time to actually get absorbed into our bodies from our skin and when we use soaps we strip all the vitamin D containing oils off.
This is why it’s important to make sure you leave about 24-48 hours after sun exposure to have the oils get absorbed.
Vitamin D supplementation is also a good idea but can be overdone if we are doing high doses like 10,000 IU daily.
The vitamin D created through the sun has a natural feedback mechanism that will turn off production if we have enough but through diet it can cause other problems.
Most people are vitamin D deficient so looking into getting sun and eating vitamin D foods is a good idea.
Supplementing with something like cod liver oil gives us vitamin D as well as omega 3s that help reduce inflammation which is notorious in migraine cases.
Melatonin is generally known as the sleep hormone.
Our body has a see saw between melatonin and cortisol that is controlled based on our circadian rhythm and affects every system and cell in our bodies.
When the sun rises, melatonin falls and cortisol sky rockets to wake us up, give us energy and make us focused.
When the sun sets, cortisol falls and melatonin sky rockets to prepare us for sleep and make our bodies ready for repair throughout the night.
When we stare at blue screens too often, have caffeine our body doesn’t do well with, don’t get enough sun through our eyes and don’t wind down before bed then we develop circadian rhythm issues.
These issues are generally caused by prolonging how long cortisol stays high or not actually allowing it to come down for bedtime.
This is where melatonin comes in. When cortisol stays high, melatonin doesn’t get a chance to surge and provide all its benefits and even create the dreams we have during sleep.
The first steps here are to make sure you are actually shutting off all the stimuli from screens, stimulants like caffeine, chocolate and alcohol, and making sure you let go of the days happenings with something like a diary or a to do list you can forget about and pick back up the next day.
When we’ve done these, our sleep usually returns to normal and provides us all the melatonin we need but if we are still having problems then we can supplement.
Careful with some supplements that have huge amounts of melatonin in them like 200mg.
In a 2016 study of 196 participants, melatonin (3 mg) was superior to amitriptyline (25 mg) in the reduction of migraine frequency.
In 2016 a study found only 3mg of melatonin was needed and it was superior to amitriptyline in reducing migraine frequency with the added benefit of weight loss as opposed to amitriptylines weight gain.
Ideally you’d find a sublingual melatonin and start off with 1mg under the tongue and work your way up from there. Again it’s all individual and the most important thing is listening to what your body is saying, if you can’t hear it, then you’re not calm enough to fall asleep anyway.
Do you have any other natural remedies that I haven’t listed that work well for you? Let me know
Holistic Health Practitioner
Mark Canadic is a writer, speaker, holistic health practitioner and migraine community leader. Read Mark’s inspiring comeback story, “My Burnout and Brain Fires that Lead me to the Root.” Feel free to send Mark a message here.