By Lora O’Brien
Headaches are a pain (gotta love a pun!) at the best of times, but migraines? As anyone who has suffered from them can tell you, they make your brain feel like little men have moved in and are hacking apart your head with miniature ice picks. Pain engulfs you, and everything from light to movement makes your body shudder in agony. As someone who doesn’t like to take pain medication, I’ve often grasped at the box of Paracetamol in a last ditch effort to numb the pain, yet no medication even touches it. I started to look into more natural alternatives because I felt I had no choice, and do you know what? They actually work.
Prevention Is Better Than A Cure
Before we get onto the natural ways to heal a migraine, there are a few easy ways to prevent them from happening in the first place:
Avoid bright lights and loud noises. I mean, fluorescent lighting is never kind to anyone, but bright lights and loud noises can over-stimulate your nervous system which then increases the chances of a migraine happening.
Watch what you eat. If you suffer often, it may be the foods that you’re eating, so keep a food diary and try to eliminate the foods that trigger migraines. Chocolate, soya, cheese, citrus fruits and vinegar are common triggers.
Riboflavin (B2). Riboflavin, otherwise known as vitamin B2, helps to protect our cells from oxidative damage. By including foods that are rich in B2 into your diet, it’s a natural and yet effective preventive treatment when it comes to migraines. Foods rich in B2 are: oatmeal, mushrooms, almonds, spinach, apple, kidney beans, sunflower seeds, tomatoes, rice, fortified bread, pasta, cereal, fortified nondairy milk and nutritional yeast – so lots of delicious choices.
Be careful during times of hormonal change. Hormones, ugh! They have so much to answer for. But it may be worth noting that times when your hormones are in disarray, such as pregnancy, menstruation and even menopause (it’ll happen to the best of us) are when migraines are likely to strike.
Ensure you’re getting enough magnesium. Migraines may be a sign that you’re eating a diet low in magnesium, and this will also make you feel pretty lethargic, which doesn’t help when migraines suddenly appear. Luckily it’s pretty delicious to eat magnesium rich foods! Spinach, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, quinoa and whole grains are rich in the stuff. These not only prevent migraines, but boost your health, too.
Limit stressors. SO much easier said than done, am I right? We all strive to limit stress, and yet life happens. But stress is one of the worst and common triggers when it comes to migraines. So, find what makes you stressed in your day to day life, and try to construct ways to eliminate those stresses. Your health matters, and stress is detrimental over time, so you should be trying to find a happy medium.
So, although these are the best lifestyle choices to make to prevent migraines from occurring in the first place, the world is at times an imperfect place and they’re not magical cures, so you may still suffer. What you need now is the tools to get through a migraine without shutting yourself away in a dark room for the foreseeable future. So, when migraines do strike below are wonderful natural ways to get curing those mean migraines.
What To Do When You’ve Got A Migraine
1. Drink more water
When I get migraines, the first thing I become aware of is that I’ve let my water consumption slack off. Sometimes, we’re busy and so we forget to keep chugging on that h2o, but dehydration is a common migraine trigger, and if you’re a sufferer then this should be the first change you make. Stay vigilant about the amount of water that you’re drinking, and aim for around 8-9 glasses a day. Not only will this prevent migraines but it will also keep your body hydrated and you’ll find you have an increase in energy.
2. Think about it
Focus your attention on the
3. Get herbal
You may want to focus on keeping your herbs stocked up, or even growing a small herb garden outside. Herbs such as ginger, peppermint and cayenne are celebrated for their natural pain relief abilities, and they can work to end both the pain and nausea that comes with a migraine. The best way to incorporate herbs into your diet is by ingesting them, as it offers the fastest relief. Make a quick and easy herbal tea at home by mixing together some cayenne pepper, fresh ginger and peppermint leaves and steep in hot water for around 15 minutes then sip, sip, sip away!
4. Drink a SMALL amount of coffee
The first time someone told me to drink caffeine to get rid of my migraine, I actually laughed in their face. After all, everyone knows that too much caffeine can trigger a migraine, right? Well, wrong. Kind of. Although drinking vast quantities of coffee can ignite a nasty migraine, a small dose of coffee when battling a migraine can help to soothe the pain, especially when you first feel a migraine creeping in. Just remember to keep the dose small.
5. Chomp on some ginger
Ginger root affects the ways in which our body handles both inflammation and pain, and chewing on a piece of fresh ginger root or sipping ginger root tea will help your body cope with a migraine, especially if you tend to also get nausea with your headache.
6. Swap pain relief for nuts
When migraines strike we usually reach for the migraine relief tablets. I don’t know about you, but whenever I pop a Paracetamol or two, it doesn’t even dull a migraine. But guess what? Nuts can work as both a pain reliever and a preventive measure to prevent migraines in the future. Why? Well, many varieties of nuts contain salicin, a pain blocking agent that’s used in many of today’s medications.
7. Apply a little pressure
So when you’re in the midst of a migraine and it feels like someone has your head locked in a vice, the last thing you think you’ll need is more pressure. But there are certain pressure points on your body that can alleviate the pain and discomfort that you’re feeling. In the future, when the first niggles of a migraine are present, apply pressure on your craniosacral system. When you place pressure on migraine-specific spots, you can entice your brain into relaxation and rest and that tension that is building in your brain with be sent elsewhere, thus your migraine won’t develop.
8. Try hot or cold therapy
Hot or cold therapy is a popular method when it comes to pain, and switching between the two can sometimes work to reduce swelling and inflammation. When it comes to your headache, decide whether you need a hot or a cold compress and place this on your head, and the pain can reduce rapidly in minutes. When you choose to apply heat, the muscles will relax and the pain you’re feeling will reduce. If you choose to apply an icy cold compress, this will work to numb the areas in most pain . For me, cold is always a welcome relief.
9. Rest up in a dark room
If you’ve ever had a migraine then you’ll know how being in bright light can feel torturous. In fact, the bright lights can trigger an even greater pain in your head, so don’t feel bad for taking yourself off to a dark room when trying to get rid of the pain as a quick relief. If your migraine is extreme, then place a sleeping mask over your eyes; this can protect you from both natural and unnatural light.
10. Try daith ear piercing
This one is a somewhat an unconventional method when it comes to preventing migraines, however one that may be hugely beneficial if you’re a sufferer and don’t mind the odd piercing or two. Much like acupuncture is used to relieve pain, the daith piercing is thought to correspond to an acupressure point within the ear that lines up with the digestive system. So if your migraines are triggered by digestive problems, you may want to go and get yourself a new piercing.
Do you know of any other migraine cures that have worked for you? Please share them in the comments section below!