Home Remedies for Migraine Headaches

While migraines are considered a type of headache, they have little in common with basic headaches. A migraine is a genetically predisposed condition that produces severe pain and can endure for several days, while a tension headache yields dull pain as a result of eye strain or emotional stress and typically lasts one hour at most. Similarly, migraines are triggered by different stimuli than headaches, they result in different symptoms, and are treated by different medications.

Non-illness related migraines are an inherited condition that passes down from grandparents or parents. If an individual has two parents who suffer from migraines, he is significantly more likely to experience them than someone who has affected parents or grandparents. An individual is also more likely to experience migraines if she is a female under the age of fifty. In contrast, tension headaches, the most basic and common type of headache, can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, or genetic history.


For predisposed individuals, migraines may be triggered by a number of stimuli. In some victims, migraines can be caused by certain foods or drinks, including cheese, chocolate, excessive caffeine, or alcohol. The lack of food from dieting or fasting causes migraines in certain individuals. Bright, flashing lights or throbbing music can cause migraines in some victims. Extended sleep deprivation can also trigger a migraine, as can changes in weather or atmospheric pressure. While tension headaches may be caused by similar triggers, the most common causal factors include stress, emotional duress, exhaustion, and eye strain from too much reading, writing, television watching, or computer use.

Warning Signs

There are several physical warning signs that appear the before full onset of a migraine. The victim may become extremely sensitive to light or experience other visual disruptions, such as blind spots, flashes of light or a hazing of images. Some individuals become suddenly nauseous or feel a distinct tingling sensation in either arms or both legs. A sensitivity to sound, taste, or touch may also developed. Some victims also become extremely thirsty, crave sweet foods, become suddenly tired or unusually irritable. However, tension headaches are most commonly predicated by little more than a small knot of pressure around either temple or behind the eyes.

Signs of a migraine vary according to the type of migraine. Symptoms also differ based on when they occur in the headache cycle. Migraine is a complex and long-lasting event, the symptoms of which can be equally complex. Research continues into migraine headaches.

It is necessary to determine if symptoms indicate onset of or the migraine itself. Untreated migraine headaches can cause serious related health problems. Even without further complications, untreated migraines are incredibly painful and last up to 72 hours. Further, if one can identify that one is experiencing a migraine, it is possible to properly treat, interrupt, or prevent the headache. Consult a neurologist who specializes in migraine headaches.


Once a migraine has taken hold, the victim may experience severe to excruciating pain on one or both sides of the head. The pain generally has a throbbing quality and is exacerbated by physical movement, sound, light, or touch. Without treatment, these symptoms may last between three hours and three days and can impair the victim's ability to function. Tension headaches tend to focus steady dull pain around the area of the temples, forehead, base of the skull, or behind the eyes. They generally last less than one hour and do not prevent the victim from continuing activities.


Migraine headaches appear according to three general types, each with distinctive prodromal symptoms prior to onset. Classical migraine symptoms include visual, auditory or other physical disturbances. Complicated migraines have symptoms that originate in the affected regions of the brain. It is difficult to diagnose atypical migraine, since symptoms do not fit typical migraine patterns. Once a migraine occurs, sufferers experience similar symptoms. Speech may be slurred. One is hyper-sensitive to light and sound. As the migraine progresses, vomiting is common. Without appropriate medication, the pain increases until subsiding up to 72 hours later. Days before a migraine, one can experience symptoms that include irritability, elation, cravings for sweets and thirst. Memory issues can occur during and after an event.

Diabetes, heart disease, irritable bowel disorder, Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis are all illnesses associated with migraines. Because these illnesses are common, there may be a coincidence that a patient has both. Studies, however, show that these illnesses may bring on migraines.


While there is no cure for a migraine, the pain or frequency may be significantly through medical treatment. Some doctors prescribe extremely strong pain relievers in much higher doses than are available over the counter. These drugs are meant to be taken at the onset of attacks, while some doctors prescribe preventative drugs taken on a daily basis to reduce the likelihood of migraines. Recent research suggests that Botox injections at specific facial points can lessen the frequency and severity of migraines as well, although this treatment method is still being examined. Tension headaches, however, rarely require prescription treatments and can be eliminated through over the counter pain relievers, such as aspirin. Individuals who do not want to take pain relievers may find lifestyle changes, such as stress reduction, better diet or more frequent exercise can reduce the frequency and pain of tension headaches.

Home Remedies for Migraine Headaches

According to the National Headache Foundation, about 30 million Americans suffer from migraines, many of whom have not received proper diagnosis or treatment. There are herbal and other natural migraine treatments besides effective medications. Most herbs and supplements used to treat migraines can be purchased over the counter.

Feverfew Leaf

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, 100 to 300 mg of feverfew, taken up to four times daily, can reduce migraines. Feverfew leaf is one of the longest-standing herbal treatments for migraine. It works by inhibiting inflammation and reducing blood vessel spasms associated with migraines. In addition to reducing the frequency and severity of migraine attacks, it also can relieve other migraine symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting. Seventy percent of migraine sufferers in one study reported fewer or less severe migraines while using feverfew. Although you can take feverfew during an attack, it works best with continuous use. Feverfew is available as fresh or dried herbs or in capsule, liquid extract or tea forms.


Some people report relief of migraine symptoms after inhaling the aroma of essential oils made with herbs. Rosemary, lavender, marjoram and peppermint all have been identified as having the potential for migraine relief. To use, dab the essential oil on the forehead or neck during a migraine and inhale deeply. However, use aromatherapy with caution, as strong odors can trigger a migraine in some sufferers.

St. John's Wort

Although few studies specifically link St. John's Wort to migraine relief, several have shown it to be effective in treating minor to moderate depression, according to the Mayo Clinic. And there is a strong link between migraines and depression--traditional antidepressants can effectively manage migraine symptoms for many people--herbal medications that are effective in treating depression may also be helpful with migraines.


5-HTP is present in the body as a precursor to serotonin production and can be taken as a supplement to regulate serotonin levels. Because a drop in serotonin can cause migraines--and because migraine sufferers often have low levels of serotonin--5-HTP may work similarly to antidepressants in reducing or preventing migraines. A common dosage for treating migraines is 200 to 600 mg a day, taken in capsule form.

Coenzyme Q10

Two clinical trials revealed that taking approximately 150mg per day of the supplement Coenzyme Q10 reduced migraine frequency and severity in over 50 percent of study participants, according to the American Family Physician.


Although you can purchase most herbs and supplements without a prescription, it is still important to check with your doctor about natural remedies. They generally have fewer side effects than medication, but they may interact with drugs or affect other health conditions. In addition, most data about herbal migraine treatments is anecdotal, with fewer controlled studies than with traditional medications.

Migraine Trigger Foods

If you suffer from migraines, you would probably do anything to avoid an attack. What if it were as simple as avoiding certain foods? Naturally occurring compounds in some foods as well as man-made additives can spark a migraine in sensitive people. You might be aware of some of your own triggers--others are less obvious.

Natural Substances

Not all migraines are triggered by food sources. However, in sensitive individuals, some foods can bring on or intensify a migraine attack. Tyramine, a naturally occurring substance that results from the breakdown of protein in some foods, often causes a migraine. The longer a food ages, the greater the amount of tyramine in it. Aged cheeses (particularly blue cheese, aged cheddar, feta, and parmesan) possess a lot of tyramine. Other foods containing high levels of tyramine are pickles, onions, olives, some beans, dried fruit, nuts, avocados, processed meats, canned soups and red wine. Some people report headache trouble when they take in another natural substance. But beware, if you regularly take in caffeine and cut yourself off cold turkey, you might inadvertently trigger a withdrawal headache that can turn into a migraine.


If you find migraines often occur after lunch, perhaps you should consider what you ate. Processed meats--including deli meats, pepperoni, hot dogs and some sausages--often contain preservatives called nitrates and nitrites. You might also have a sensitivity to monosodium glutimate. This flavor-enhancer is an ingredient in many different processed foods (think canned soup, restaurant meals, and prepackaged entrees), not just Chinese food. Nitrates/Nitrites and MSG dilate blood vessels and increase blood flow to the brain which cause headaches in some people. Aspartame, an artificial sweetener, and some food colorings have also been tagged as possible migraine triggers. Those whose headaches result from food additives often feel the headache on both sides of the head, rather than on just one side as in a classic migraines. These headaches usually occur within 20 to 30 minutes of ingesting an offending food.

Cold Food

Most of us experience "brain freeze" from time to time, but in migraine sufferers, brain freeze can spark a full-on attack. For most people, an ice cream headache is felt in the middle of the forehead, but for migraine sufferers, this pain can be more widespread--reaching areas that are usually affected during a migraine. According to the Cleveland Clinic's neurology department, more than 90 percent of migraine sufferers report problems with cold food and drinks.

What You Don't Eat

Just as you have to be careful about eating certain foods, you should also be careful not to skip meals. The drop in blood sugar and disruption of your body's normal stability can also activate a migraine. If you find you get distracted easily and forget to eat at regular intervals, you might concentrate on grazing throughout the day to keep you and your head regular. Also, pay attention to the amount of fluids you drink. Dehydration is also a possible trigger for your migraines.

Less Common Triggers

You need to learn your own triggers. Keeping a headache diary may help. If you record what you eat and any headache symptoms that occur afterwards, you can learn what substances trigger you. In addition to the more common ones listed above, people sometimes report migraines caused by organ meats (such as chicken livers), cultured dairy products like buttermilk and sour cream, yeasted breads--particularly sourdough, smoked and dried fish, some fresh fruits like bananas, raspberries, red plums and papayas, and cheese-flavored crackers.

Tips for Massaging a Migraine Headache

Migraine headaches can be debilitating. There are drugs you can take to help you get through a migraine headache but you can also try other methods to relieve the agony of a migraine headache. One method is to massage your migraine headache away. Here are some tips to help you massage a migraine headache away.

It is important to learn where the migraine pressure point it to help to relieve the migraine. Once the point is located then you can press and release in a massaging fashion to help relieve the migraine. By massaging the area you help to release the congested area and create more blood flow.

Use the pads of your thumb and first two fingers to massage the pressure points for migraine relief. Use a tiny circular motion and don't apply too much pressure to the point. You want to gently relax the pressure point without aggravating it.

When massaging a pressure point use a light touch to a moderate massage, it will depend how sensitive the point is to your touch. And do not use the ends of your fingers only the soft pad part of the finger is to be used.

Apply enough pressure at the pressure point until you feel a tension in the area you are applying pressure. This is a tension that you want to gradually work out of the pressure point.

Apply pressure to the pressure point gradually until you feel relaxation happening. Gently go deeper into the pressure point until you feel a change in the pressure point.

Never massage a pressure point to the point where you can't take a deep breath. Ease up if breathing is hard. The idea is to get your body to relax and work the tension out.

As you apply pressure be sure to apply the right pressure. Too much pressure with make the point tense and too little will not be effective.

Here are a few migraine pressure points mid- forehead, corner of eye, between thumb and index finger, between big toe and second toe and at the base of the skull.

Migraines are different in different people. Hopefully massage can help ease up a migraine but it will not work for everyone.

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