A Natural Approach To Migraine Relief

Life is too short to be sidelined by occasional or chronic head pain that can be dissolved through instant migraine relief.  There is a plethora of prescribed medications available to provide migraine headache relief. Although, some of those prescriptions have side effects, are costly, or may counter other medications.  However, there are also many holistic migraine relief options available that may be more suitable for your situation. If you are wondering what those all-natural solutions might be don’t worry we are here to help!  We have complied a list of the most effective natural solutions for migraine pain.

Finding Instant Migraine Relief

Identify migraines before they get out of hand:

Probably the most powerful way to combat migraine pain is to be sensitive to cues your body may give you before a migraine hits.  Vison changes such as blurring, spotting, and lines can be an indicator. Frequent yawning has also been associated with the beginning of a migraine as well.  Craving specific foods may be an indication of an impending headache. Foods such as chocolate, sodas, or potato chips might be on that craving list. Another surprising migraine indicator could be the need to urinate more frequently.  

Eliminate light, sound, and movement:migraine relief

In the midst of a migraine, sufferers have several options to help ease the pain naturally.  Since we know that migraines are brought on through the nervous system, one of the most common remedies is to shut down the nervous system.  This can be done most effectively by sleeping. Resting in a dark room with no sound is most beneficial for migraine headache relief. Other things that should be avoided are intense smells and movement.       

Related Article: Eye Strain Treatment

While eliminating light, sound, and movement may be your first choice, it may not always be an option.  Life happens between migraines and unfortunately, we are unable to schedule them to occur at convenient times.  It may be hard to make time to put life on hold. Migraines can happen anywhere especially places where we cannot find dark quiet places to stay initially.  

Heat and ice working together:

Natural migraine relief can be found with the combination of ice and warm water.  Adults have found success in fighting off a migraine by placing their hands and feet in very warm water while placing an ice pack or cold compress on the back of the neck.  The warm water helps pull blood to other areas of the body while the cold helps blood vessels return to normal. Medical professionals suggest ice or heat for 20 minutes at a time with 20 minutes of rest.     

Hot and cold compresses may be the answer you are looking for to find instant migraine relief.  While some sufferers prefer cold therapies, it has been widely reported that heat therapies are also beneficial.  Small bags of ice, a frozen water bottle, and ice substitutes can be wrapped in towels and place directly on painful areas.  Popular areas to place warm or cold compresses are the forehead, temples, and on the back of the neck.    

Caution should be taken when using warm or cold compresses.  Prolonged exposure to cold or hot temperature can be detrimental especially to those who have sensitive skin, circulatory concerns, or are diabetic.  Do not expose skin to extreme temperatures or continue exposure for extended periods of time. It becomes harder to notice extreme heat or cold when skin has adjusted to high or low temperatures.  

Essential Oils:

  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Peppermint
  • Chamomile

Lavender has been used in treatment as an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, for anxiety, insomnia, depression, nausea, vomiting, and pain control.  It isn’t the only essential oil that is linked to providing natural migraine relief. Rosemary has anti-inflammatory and pain-killing agents. Rubbing peppermint oil on your temples can help subside pain while smelling peppermint can calm an upset stomach.  Studies show that chamomile can also be effective in treating nervous system pain and digestive issues. Inflammation and sinuses pressure may be reduced by simply inhaling eucalyptus oils.

Scent can often be a trigger for migraines.  During a migraine episode, any smell at all may increase discomfort.  In addition, reactions from contact to skin will only make migraines more unbearable.  It is advised to try essential oils before episodes and use lightly scented oils.

Turn to intimacy:

We have all heard jokes about the wife not being in the “mood” because of a headache but according to research, sex might just be the cure for migraine pain.  More than half of women in a German study reported sex alleviated the symptoms of a migraine. Not only could sex cure some migraines, participants reported frequent sex to be effective in prevention of outbreaks.

Sex might not always be an option.  Time, location, and availability can restrict this method of dealing with migraines.  Furthermore, some of the physical symptoms of migraine pain, such a vomiting, may eliminate this option.  In any case safe sex should always be practiced. 

A different kind of spicy:

While in the US cayenne is used more as a cooking spice, it has been known to be an effective all-natural migraine combatant.  Capsaicin found in cayenne disrupts nerve pain and may provide quick comfort. ¼ teaspoon of powder in 4 ounces of warm water is the recommended mixture.  Simply mix the ingredients together with a cotton swab and lightly coat the inside of your nostril with the solution. A mild burning sensation will be a quick indicator that the solution is working.  

This option plainly states this is a painful remedy.  Another concern is burning the skin on the inside of your nose.  Should the cayenne pain become more than expected, take care to wash your nose with a clean cotton swap.  Flushing with water might spread the burning sensation.

Wash your worries away:

Warm showers have been effective in muscle relaxation and promoting blood flow.  Long hot baths also help relax and destress you from head to toe. Gentle scalp massages while under hot water help console painful areas.  Oils and scented soaps can also increase the effeteness of migraine pain relief as long as the scent is not overpowering. In addition, diming the lights and creating a calm atmosphere may soothe a throbbing head.   

Symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and dizziness may be increased for some by heat.  Cooler showers might ease these symptoms, but many sufferers find showering with a migraine hard altogether.  

Diet Change for Natural Migraine Relief

Foods to avoid:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Nuts and nut butter
  • Cheese
  • Chocolate
  • Beans
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Apples

One of the most effective ways to control migraines is to monitor your diet.  It is no surprise that tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine can trigger a migraine. Processed foods, chocolate, and even dairy foods have also been associated with migraine pain.  Also, foods that have additives such as MSG, nitrates, aspartame may increase the frequency of migraines. It is important to consider ingredients because intolerances to specific foods can contribute to the blinding pain.  Consider the meal you had before you noticed migraine indicators. This may help you track foods that are causing you issues.

Elimination of certain foods is not the only way to lead a happier life.  Adding certain foods may help too.

Headache-fighting foods:

  • Ginger
  • Butterbur
  • Feverfew
  • Magnesium
  • B vitamins
  • Water
  • Riboflavin
  • Healthy Fats

Ginger can be added to your diet through teas, soups, stir-fries, baked goods, and crystalized ginger.  150 mg of butterbur or feverfew daily can also improve neurological health within months. Other oral options for combating chronic migraine pain include magnesium and vitamin B-complexes.  Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and olive oil help reduce inflammation commonly associated with migraines. Flaxseeds can be added to smoothies daily or taken with a glass of water to calm nerve pain.  Don’t forget the impact of water, water, water! We all know how important water is, and it is no less important when it comes to easing and preventing a migraine.

Dieting done right:

Perhaps the most important detail about managing your migraine pain is through diet regulation.  Extreme dips in blood sugars can bring on migraines. Sticking to proper meals and snacks can really aid in prevention of headaches.  Small snack can be beneficial but be careful to not under eat. It is important to eat full meals and appropriate snacks.

Related Article: Holistic Medicine

You should be mindful when composing your diet.  Be careful not to eliminate healthy foods that don’t trigger migraines.  Realize also that while a certain food might be healthy and beneficial to add to your diet, it might not nutritionally replace everything you have eliminated.  

The Power Of Rest When it Comes to Migraine Headache Reliefinstant migraine relief

Create a balanced sleep schedule:

Getting a full night’s rest is beneficial for many reasons.  You can add getting beauty sleep to the list of ways to ward off headaches.  Like all other areas of our body, rest gives us a chance to recuperate and repair daily wear and tear as well as long term damage.  Since migraines can be triggered through multiple senses, sleep may be the most effective way for you to calm your entire body. When napping remember that 90 minutes allows adequate time for a full REM cycle.  Research has shown other methods of rest can be effective in migraine alleviation.

Oversleeping has been linked to migraines as well.  The recommended amount of sleep for the average adult is eight hours.  You might need more or less depending on your body’s specific needs.

Yoga for the win:

Many migraine sufferers turn to yoga to help support physical and mental health.  Not only does yoga aid in lifting stress it also promotes muscle strength and blood flow.  Breathing techniques often associated with stretching increase oxygen delivered to the body.  Over a period of three months researchers, discovered that stretching and yoga significantly reduce the occurrences of headaches and migraines.  Similarly, meditation has a positive effect on the human body.

Rejuvenate with meditation:

Meditation focuses on calming the body and spirit.  The relaxing techniques and controlled breathing aid in releasing stress and centering your mind.  Migraine sufferers who participated in meditation for just 20 minutes a day saw positive changes in just thirty days.  Before breakfast is the most recommended time for meditation followed by during your lunch break, after work, or any time you are feeling stressed.  Psychologists suggest avoiding meditation before bed as this may create a pre-sleep routine for your body.

Meditation is a practiced therapy that some may find hard to achieve.  The goal is to be fully awake while in a state of ambience. Migraine sufferers who have a difficult time quieting their thoughts may find meditation more of a struggle than a help. But stick with it—you can get better over time.

Get Physical: Physical Exercise & Migrainesmigraine relief pressure points

Grab a workout partner:

Did you know that exercise is also an effective tool to combat migraines?  While hitting the gym for an hour three times a week is certainly beneficial, indoor activities are not the only option.  Outdoor movement such as hiking, row boating, and nature walking not only gets your blood flowing it also helps reduce stress.  Oxygen therapy has been linked to improving migraine pain and mother nature is a great place to relax and rejuvenate. Giving yourself the option to step away from TV, computers, and other screens can also contribute to the success of migraine control.

Some studies have shown exercise can sometimes contribute to migraine pain.  Sufferers should be aware of outdoor allergies before hitting the trails. Don’t forget to wear sunglasses and sunscreen to help protect your skin and eyes, and to prevent triggering a migraine.

Animal therapy:

Most pet owners will agree that their pets help lower stress.  Studies have shown that animals are great at comforting migraine headache sufferers.  Animals are sensitive to sickness and pain. When coping with the symptoms of migraines try snuggling with your pets.  The live body connect should encourage your body to relax and allow you to settle your nerves.

Not all pets are suitable for therapy.  Some allergies to pets may make migraines worse.  Be cognizant of active pets as their playfulness may be detrimental.  

Consider the option for a massage:

Not many of us need an extra reason to get a massage but we will give you another anyway!  That’s right, frequent professional massages can help physically release tension stored in our bodies.  Professionals know where specific pressure points are and how to manipulate them. Physical stimulation can also release endorphins and increase blood flow.  Can’t afford a professional? We still have your back. Literally! Tension can also be alleviated by placing a tennis ball between your upper back/shoulders and a wall.  Gently apply the desired amount of pressure while slowly moving your body back and forth. A great advantage to this procedure is it doesn’t even have to interrupt your day.  This stress defying solution can be part of a multitasking routine while you’re on the phone, replying to emails, or even part of your winddown process at the end of the day.

See Also: Headaches Behind the Eyes

Time and affordability may stifle the availability of a massage.  Plus, being nauseas while laying on your stomach may not be the best solution.  Some salons also use lights, music, and scented oils that may contradict the intended purpose.  

Pop a migraine with acupuncture:

Acupuncture has been used for decades, traditionally by the Chinese.  Today its positive effects on relieving migraine pain are no less effective.  Studies involving hundreds of adults have proven acupuncture to be very effective.  Trial subjects who received traditional and non-traditional acupuncture all reported a decrease in migraine frequencies to less than half.  Participants who received traditional Chinese acupressure boasted long term effects even after acupressure therapies had ceased.

It may be difficult to find a professional acupuncturist.  This type of therapy involves needles and should not be tried by amateurs.  

Acupressure at home:

If needles aren’t right for you there are other migraine relief pressure points you should know about.  Manipulating specific pressure points throughout the body, also known as acupressure, not only relaxes tense muscles but it is also known to stifle pain.  This is a solution that can be performed at home or by a professional. Some adults found acupressure to be an effective cure for the nausea and vomiting frequently caused by severe head pain.  Between your thumb and pointer finger and three fingers up on the inside of your wrist are commonly stimulated to create nausea relief.    

Too much pressure can cause pain and damage to pressure points.  It may be difficult for inexperienced to find the correct location of pressure points.  

New to you biofeedback:

A therapy you may not have been aware of for preventative migraine pain is known as biofeedback therapy.  During biofeedback sessions sensors are placed on a patient’s skin in order to monitor their muscle contractions.  The machine then alerts patients when muscles are being tightened. This allows participants to recognize muscle contraction and release tension in muscles.  Once the subject is able to identify muscle tension they might not have noticed before they are able to relax those muscles faster and prevent fatigue and irritation.

Biofeedback may not be easily accessible.  Since the machinery is medical grade and expensive it is unlikely most people can use this practice at home.  

Snap, crackle and pop:

Frequent adjustments from a chiropractor may also offer the natural relief you are looking for.  Reduction in nerve pain and stress greatly aides in the prevention of severe headaches. Adjustments are more consistent in prevention when subjects follow a doctor suggested schedule.  Many insurance plans have chiropractic coverage for their beneficiaries.

Improper adjustments can have painful and lasting serious effects not only regarding migraine pain but as well as with other areas of the body.  

Stand up for relief:

Incorrect posture can lead to nerve damage and muscle strain.  Not only does improper posture lead to nerve damage and muscle strain but it can also reduce blow flow. Correct upper back and shoulder alignment can dramatically reduce the frequency of mild to severe chronic migraine pain.  Training yourself to keep your spine aligned and your shoulders back can seem daunting at first but after practicing your body will alert you when you begin to slump.  Try setting a timer to remind you to check your posture when you begin initial muscle retraining.

Proper back alignment is always important for health but can be hard to achieve.  Millions of people struggle in keeping good posture.

Let yourself see the results:

Yearly eye exams are an important key to migraine pain relief.  Even if you feel like you are seeing clearly, eye strain is a common cause of headaches.  Regular visits to your eye doctor can help insure you have the correct prescription glasses for your needs.  Of course, glasses can’t provide relief if you are not wearing them. If you aren’t wearing your glasses because they don’t work well, give you an instant headache or don’t fit properly, don’t wait another year till your next appointment to address this issue.  New glasses or contacts will make your life easier and help address migraines.

Changing eye sight can render current prescriptions ineffective and even make matters worse.  Improper fitting glasses may be more of a hindrance than a help in combating migraine pain.

Educate Yourself on Migraine Relief

The more you know:

Before we give you the answers to instant migraine relief let’s look take a closer look at migraines themselves.  Migraines are associated with disorders in the nervous system and are caused by widening of the cerebral blood vessels.   The root of a migraine takes place in the brainstem. While severe head pain is a symptom, nervous system problems effect more than just the brain.  Disruptions in the nervous system can cause:

  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vison
  • Tingling and numbness
  • Sensitivity to light, sounds, or smells

The two major types of migraines:

There are two major types of migraines.  The common migraine, or more accurately migraine without aura.  Symptoms involved may include one sided pulsating head pain. They are accompanied with nausea, vomiting, vision changes, and sensitivity to light, sound, and smells.  These changes occur mostly without warning and can last up to seventy-two hours.    

The second type of migraine is known as a complicated migraine.  Recently the name has been changed to migraine with aura. Nerve system complications may occur upwards of one hour before the migraine takes place and last for approximately the same amount of time.  Temporary vision loss, numbness and tingling, and sensitivity to surroundings may also accompany this type of migraine.

Additional recognized migraines:

Five more types of migraines have been recognized.  Migraines without headaches carry all the symptoms of the first two types of migraines without head pain.  More common in teens and children is the diagnosis migraine with brainstem aura. This migraine is similar to the migraine with aura that adults experience but is noticed more often in teen girls and could be related to hormones and the menstrual cycle.  Hemiplegic migraine has identifying symptoms such as paralysis that could last for several days. Migraines that cause temporary complete vison loss in one eye is known as a retinal migraine.

In youth boys are affected more by migraines than girls.  As adults however, women have proven to be the most commonly impacted by migraine pain.  Studies show that more than eighty percent of migraine sufferers are women. Not only do women experience more migraine headaches than men, but also, women report the pain to be more intense and longer lasting than men do.  Research has linked the hormone estrogen to migraines which may be the cause of the higher numbers in women.    

Migraines can be triggered by many ever day things.  Common triggers are bright lights, loud sounds, stress, and strong smells.  But these are not the only culprits when it comes to causing a migraine. Certain foods, food allergies, and intolerances can cause migraines.  Allergies, hormone levels and daily routines have also been linked to migraines.     


It is wise to consult your doctor before making any sudden changes to your diet or daily routine.  Sudden changes could have negative effects. Over extending yourself while exercising may also cause migraine tension.  Slow gradual changes over time might be more beneficial than abrupt changes. Eliminating migraines before they start has been shown to be the most effective way to manage the neurological concern.  

Dr. Barry

Dr. Barry

November 12, 2018