While many regular headaches can be annoying or painful, migraines can be debilitating. Some sufferers may not be able to get out of bed, they may become physically ill, or experience pain due to light when they have a migraine.
Although there are some prescription medications that can provide some relief from the pain, many sufferers do not want to depend on chemical pain medications, especially narcotics. Fortunately, there are many migraine remedies that provide relief from migraine symptoms.
What Causes a Migraine?
A migraine is a headache which causes severe throbbing or pulsing pain on one side of the head. There isn't a single cause of migraines, and they are not understood well by medical professionals. Many research scientists believe changes in the brainstem and its connection to the trigeminal nerve is instrumental in causing this disabling headache.
Brain chemical imbalances may also play a role in causing migraines. The level of serotonin, a chemical that regulates pain, in the brain drops during a migraine attack, and it could trigger the trigeminal nerve to release neuropeptides. The neuropeptides travel to the outside covering of the brain called meninges, which causes a migraine.
There are also genetic components to migraines and environmental factors which can trigger migraines. The triggers vary for each sufferer, and some of the more common ones include:
- Changes in daily routine.
- Getting too much or too little sleep.
- Hormonal changes in women.
- Viewing computer screens for prolonged periods of time.
- Exposure to certain foods like chocolate or other sweets.
- Weather Changes
- Mild Dehydration
- Red Wine
- Food Additives
Avoiding known triggers helps many people keep migraines at bay. When they do have an attack, they can seek migraine relief for pain and other symptoms from migraine home remedies.
There are many symptoms associated with migraines, but they, like triggers, can vary among those who have migraine attacks. The symptoms range from mild to severe, and they are usually never the same for sufferers of migraines.
There are four phases of migraine symptoms:
This phase begins about two to three days before a migraine headache occurs. Some of the symptoms warnings of a migraine include:
- Mood Changes – Some changes in mood include having too much energy, not being able to sleep, or, if the sufferer is a child, he or she may have emotional meltdowns. Then, moods can change from elation to depression, sleeping too much, and feeling fatigued.
- Food Cravings – Many people, crave carbohydrates or sugary foods, including chocolate, during this phase.
- Neck Stiffness – Pain in the neck, shoulders, and back is one of the last symptoms sufferers have before the onset of a migraine. When you realize this indicates an impending headache, you can prepare remedies for a migraine headache to get quicker relief from them.
- Yawning – Excessive yawning is another symptom migraine sufferer can have, but they are not drowsy, they just can’t stop yawning.
Keeping a record of your symptoms, such as what they are and when they occur, will help you recognize an imminent migraine attack. These signs can give you a few hours to prepare the natural migraine remedies that work best for you.
Auras are symptoms involving the nervous system, and they can occur before during a migraine attack. However, only 25 – 30% of migraine sufferers experience auras with migraines. There are two types of auras: visual or sensory.
The most common symptoms during the aura phase include:
- Seeing flickering or flashing lights.
- Fortification illusions which include zigzag lines or waves.
- Seeing spots, stars, lines, circles, halos or other colors and shapes.
- Blurry or cloudy vision.
- Allodynia – which is being sensitive to touch or feel.
- Aphasia – having difficulty with talking or remembering words.
- Olfactory illusions – smelling odors which are not present.
- Auditory illusions – hearing sounds not present.
- Alice in Wonderland Syndrome – which involves distortion of your body image or perspective about yourself.
Auras happen during disruptions of normal activities of the brain. In MRIs taken of migraine sufferers, researchers saw images of changes moving across the brain, which is nerve impulses. As auras are not the common, there are no specific ways to provide aura relief when treating migraines.
The main symptom of a migraine during the headache phase is the pain. It usually occurs on just one side of the head and, for some people, the pain can be debilitating. However, migraine pain can exist on both sides of the head and is often described as pulsing or throbbing. Other symptoms during this phase include:
- Blurry vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to artificial lighting and sunlight
- Sensitivity to sound
During this phase, you might find rest in a cool, dark room to be a good headache treatment as it can help reduce the effects of these symptoms. This phase can last for several hours or several days during on its intensity.
The postdrome is the recovery phase of a migraine attack once the headache has dulled. Some people do not have any energy during this phase, while others are ecstatic. Symptoms include:
- Sensitivity to light or sound
Even though this phase indicates the end of a migraine attack, it can still interfere with your normal routine. Getting some rest can be good migraine remedy.
Home Remedies for Migraines
There are many natural ways to reduce the symptoms of a migraine attack, but there are not any real migraine cures. Instead, these migraine remedies may help reduce symptoms or shorten the attack.
Essential oils play a large part in learning how to treat migraines. Basil has several properties that help it be a good home remedy for a migraine attack. It works as a muscle relaxer, which can provide some relief pain due to muscle tightness. It has analgesic properties that provide direct pain relief and antiemetic properties to reduce nausea and vomiting.
When treating migraines, use sweet basil oil by adding 10 to 15 drops to one ounce of jojoba oil and mix well. Apply the mixture to your neck, temples, and chest to help provide relief during the headache phase of a migraine. You can also add one or two drops to a cotton ball and inhale its scent.
Lavender is well-known for its properties promoting relaxation and sleep, but it also can provide relief from migraines by reducing stress, which is a trigger. Studies have shown inhaling lavender oil to be a safe, effective treatment for migraines.
In one such study, up to 71% of the patients reported that their attacks were resolved or partially resolved by inhaling lavender oil. Lavender oil can be used in a diffuser to help you relax and sleep, put four to five drops in your bath to inhale it or add one to two drops on a cotton ball and inhale deeply to help with migraines.
This herb contains parthenolide, which is a compound that can constrict and dilate blood vessels. It can provide relief for migraines by constricting dilated vessels to prevent too much blood from flowing and triggering the migraine. Use this herb as a home remedy for migraines by making a tea from the dried leaves.
Add a tablespoon of feverfew to a cup of hot water. Let the herb steep 10 to 30 minutes, depending on how strong you want the tea. Strain the tea, add honey to sweeten it as desired and drink it. You can make and drink the tea daily for two to three months to avoid further attacks.
Using your fingertips to massage your scalp can help to relax the muscles around your head. Muscles will clench when you’re in pain, which can worsen migraine pain. While it won’t cure migraine, it can help reduce the pain.
This combination of water mint and spearmint is one of the best home remedies for migraine headaches. Peppermint has properties to provide relief for muscle and nerve pain, as well as nausea. Use it by massaging some of the oil onto your forehead and temples, or you can inhale it by adding two to three drops into hot water to breathe in the steam.
Some migraine pain is caused by a flavonoid, which are phytochemicals found in plants, called rutin. Buckwheat contains antioxidants that work to prevent damage to the body’s cells from free radicals like rutin and reduce inflammation.
Buckwheat is an edible grain-like seed which can be made into flour for baked goods, pancakes, bread, and Japanese soba noodles. It can also be prepared and eaten like oatmeal. If you want to learn how to treat migraine headaches with buckwheat, add it to your diet to fight against the inflammation associated with migraines.
This seed is a superfood because of its high levels of heart healthy Omega 3 fatty acids. You can add it to many foods to take advantage of its benefits, including using it as one of homemade migraine remedies because it can help relieve some symptoms that trigger migraines, like constipation. Put ground flaxseed in yogurt, your cereal, a smoothie or mix it in a glass of water and drink it in the morning and at night.
Many migraine sufferers use ice to provide relief from migraine pain. The coldness of the ice helps to relax tense muscles and constrict blood vessels. To use ice, create a pack by putting ice into a plastic bag, then wrap it in a clean cloth. You can apply the pack by rotating it to the back of your neck, the top of your head and on your forehead to get relief.
Although it can trigger migraine attacks in many people, it can also help provide relief from them. Caffeine constricts enlarged blood vessels during a migraine attack, which can aid in relieving pain.
When acetaminophen and aspirin is combined with caffeine, its effectiveness as a migraine treatment can improve by as much as 40%. So, if you have a migraine, take a pain reliever containing these ingredients and drink a cup of coffee, a glass of tea or soda to reduce your pain.
Low levels of magnesium have been associated with headaches, including migraines, but according to one study, the regular intake of magnesium supplements reduced the frequency of attacks by 41.6%. People using supplements as a cure for migraines should take 400 to 500mg of magnesium oxide every day.
Many people do not get adequate levels of magnesium in their diets because they eat processed foods instead of fresh produce containing this essential mineral. To avoid magnesium deficiency, eat these foods for headaches:
- Almonds and cashews
- Pumpkin seeds
- Dark Chocolate
- Whole grains
Tips for Avoiding Migraines
There are many ways to avoid migraines attacks, especially if you are aware of your triggers and symptoms during the prodrome phase.
Even though exercise can be a trigger for some sufferers, a 2011 study found that regular exercise is as effective as prescription medications for preventing an attack. Doing 40 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week helps to provide oxygen to your body and releases endorphins, which make you feel good.
Since stress can cause migraines for many people, a relaxing, meditative exercise like yoga can help you avoid them. Although heat can also help with migraine prevention, avoid hot yoga as working out in the heat can stress your body and dehydrate it.
Along with taking migraine medications, acupuncture can prevent an attack. Acupuncture can generate responses in the body, such as cortical responses that have an analgesic effect, that can prevent migraines.
Get Your Eyes Checked
Self-care is important when you have migraines because it can reduce or prevent migraines. Eyestrain from working too long at a computer, dehydration, or eye infections can cause migraines. If you have eyestrain, have an ophthalmologist examine your eyes to check for problems that can result in migraines.
These tips can help you learn how to cure migraines, at least temporarily. When combined with taking a home remedy for a migraine, you could experience a significant reduction in attacks and shorten them.