While medications for migraines bring relief, there is always the idea that there should be a more natural cure, or a better way to prevent migraines. Over the years I have tired many different “alternative” therapies for preventing and relieving migraine pain. Some I have found success with and some not so much. Following are nine complementary and alternative therapies for migraines.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese technique that stimulates your body’s ability to cure ailments by correcting energy imbalances. This therapy believes that energy flows through meridians in your body. Any misbalance or disruption in free flow of energy is the cause for your physical and mental ailments.
Very fine and solid needles are inserted into certain points of your body. This releases endorphins, which are pain-reducing opioid chemicals. It also stimulates brain to release various hormones and other body chemicals of immune system to help in easy transmission of signals between different types of cells.
Typical puncture sites for migraines include insides of ankles and area between thumb and forefinger. These sites are painless but migraines often increase tenderness at these places.
I personally had no luck with acupuncture for my migraines, but it did help with my anemia!
Biofeedback is a relaxation technique that teaches you to control body responses. Small metal sensors called electrodes are placed on your body. They monitor bodily functions like heart rate, muscle tension, brain waves, skin temperature, and blood pressure. You receive feedback on your different body functions in the form of electrical waves, sounds, and figures. Accordingly, you learn to control certain physical responses like muscular tension.
Once you control such tension, blood flow eases and pain recedes. Using biofeedback training, you can influence blood flow to brain and manage your headache. This is the next alternative therapy that I want to try for my migraines.
Massage therapy involves manipulation of body muscles. It relaxes tense muscles and improves flow of energy through lymph, tissues, and nodes. Masseurs use lotion or oils while massaging through application of focal pressure on small areas, deep kneading of muscles, or through light and brisk strokes. Massage sessions last for can be scheduled for as short as 30 minutes and as long as two hours.
I have found that a one hour massage once a month is a great way to keep my muscle tension at bay, thus reducing my migraines.
Feverfew is the most popular herbal remedy for migraine headache. It is effective and well tolerated. It causes very mild side effects. Feverfew blocks serotonin, which causes abnormal blood vessel dilation during ocular migraine. It is also effective in controlling symptoms like nausea and vomiting.
Herb butterbur can reduce severity of migraines. This herb reduces inflammation and is thereby helpful in preventing swelling associated with migraine. Avoid any herbal treatment if you are pregnant or nursing and always check with your doctor to make sure it does not interfere with your traditional migraine medicine.
This is one of the best alternative therapies to tackle migraines. Meditation causes a physiological reaction in your body that is exactly the opposite of stress. Meditation slows down heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure. All together these provide relief from migraine pain.
You focus all your energies on a single object, your breathing pattern, or anything else. Such focused energy relaxes muscles and relieves migraine pain. Practicing meditation as a daily routine lowers stress levels.
Yoga originated as a practice to prepare for meditation and spiritual connection. Luckily for us it is also a great relaxation technique that teaches you to normalize your breathing patterns and to focus more on your body and what it is telling you.
Yoga is very effective at reducing stress, pain, and numerous health problems. Practice yoga regularly to find appreciable relief from headaches, depression, and emotional disturbances and it has even been show to improve sleep after regular practice.
I personally love yoga and try and do it at least once a week. (Yoga Today even has an episode just for migraines).
Rubbing or smelling essential oils has an extremely therapeutic effect. Use essential oils like those of lavender, peppermint, or ginger to relieve headaches due to migraine. The aroma or scent of these oils soothes your nerves and muscles thereby relieving pain and discomfort. It relaxes your body and alters pain perception.
Stress is can be a big trigger for migraines. The best way to tackle stress is to adopt relaxation techniques. Develop healthy lifestyle habits of eating nutritious food, exercising regularly, and getting sufficient sleep. These will help you to overcome stress and thereby provide relief from migraine.
Ayurvedic medicine originated in India. It is based on balancing your mind, body and spirit with a focus on the entire body instead of just one ailment. While you can consult an Ayurvedic practitioner you can also now experience different types of massages and treatments designed to help balance and enhance circulation.
One such treatment is known as the Pizichilli. You lie on a massage table and a continuous steady stream of oil is poured on your body and rubbed in.
If you are going to give alternative therapies a try, remember to check with your doctor first. Second remember every alternative will not work for everyone. Just like every migraineur has different triggers, we all have different ways to prevent and relieve our pain. Keep trying until you find the combination that is right for you.