I have suffered from migraines for as far back as I can remember. They start with the experience of a particular sound, or smell, or taste; physical sensation or sight. Yes – all the five senses are fully involved in this health conspiracy! Sometimes, even the presence of a particularly toxic person – who I may not like very much – can sound off the alarm bells inside my head. And before I know it, I find myself down with a searing pain in either one (or both) of my temples – or a ‘blanketing’ pain that tortures my entire forehead, lower head, and lower neck. Migraines, as I’ll detail further in this Frontier Online Deals compiled blog post, truly are ‘your worst nightmare come true.’ Ask any migraine sufferer, and they’ll openly claim that even this is an understatement.
Honestly speaking, I’ve come to find – after many years of intense and fervent searching – that home remedies cannot cure migraines by themselves. Only ‘Triptan’ medications, which are a recently developed class of anti-migraine pharmaceuticals (of the post 80’s period), can do that. But home remedies, of the types that I’ve listed here, can certainly lessen the severity of their symptoms. Or, in those times when fate happens to be on your side, even prevent them from occurring.
Your nerves, as my neurologist once told me, have a lot to do with the onset of your migraines; along with your genetics.
Some families have many members (spanning several generations) who chronically suffer from them. Often, the people most susceptible to getting migraines are also habitually afflicted by high blood pressure (hypertension). Their blood vessels, as I’ve been told, have a certain tendency to lose their agility through repeated contact with the blood passing through them with force. And this issue becomes particularly more problematic in the case of the brain’s capillary network. These tiny, one-cell thick, blood vessels have been found to actually ‘sway’ due to the impact of high pressured blood; thereby directly causing a migraine.
Triptan medications (mentioned above) work by restoring the shape and firmness of these blood linkages, because of which the debilitating pain associated with migraines gradually subsides (often in about three hours). The only catch with these medicines is that they don’t normally come in over-the-counter forms, and so require a doctor’s prescription. Also, their use (either orally, or intravenously) is contraindicated with certain blood pressure and antidepressant medications. And then, of course, there’s the monetary expense that has to be borne whenever one decides to purchase them.
So it is because of some of these reasons that I normally resort to a few home remedies (from the list below) to resolve my migraine headaches - initially. For these to work, I have to act quickly; and as soon as I start to experience the tell-tale signs of impending attacks. These can vary from person-to-person, but commonly include nausea, a sudden ‘teary-eyed’ sensitivity to light, a desire to vomit forcefully due to the smell of certain foods, and even sensitivity to particular sounds bellowing in your close proximity.
If you experience any of these sensations before a migraine episode, it is important to record them as your ‘triggers’. For this purpose, you can maintain a pocket migraine journal to note down (exactly) those things that bring about your own migraine attacks. And once you’re armed with this essential information, you can take steps to avoid coming into contact with them again.
As per current consensus, this is the surest way in which you (as a migraine sufferer) can improve your quality of life.
Because ‘prevention is better than cure’, right?
I’ll start my list with the easiest recommendation ‘Avoid these Common Foods’, and will go on to detail the remedies that may require an ingredient or two to work their magic.
There are some foods that have been found (through large and consistent population assessments) to be common migraine triggers. These include frozen food items like sausages/hotdogs, bacon cuts, and smoked (deli) meats. Researchers think that the high protein (nitrate) content of these reassembled food sources is to blame for their migraine-causing potential.
Chocolates (particularly with high cocoa content), alcoholic beverages, processed cheeses, MSG (monosodium glutamate – which is banned in many parts of the EU) and pickles are also implicated in causing migraines.
Many people (including myself) report getting migraine attacks through caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee, and some carbonated beverages. Personally, I’ve also found very cold and hot drinks - and eatables - to have the same effect. Any ‘brain freeze’ that I may get from eating an ice cream or downing a chilled cocktail quickly escalates into a migraine. And I can say pretty much the same about the smell of petrol – except that I (thankfully) don’t have to drink it!
On its own, lavender oil does wonders for all types of headaches. You can either apply it directly on your temples – by rubbing it in through circular motions of your thumb and forefinger. Or you can inhale it by pouring a tablespoon or two on a heated metallic dish. My mother, who is a migraine sufferer herself, absolutely swears by the stuff – and she recommends it to everyone who presents with the symptoms of a headache.
Personally, I like to mix lavender oil with some mint extract – and then dilute the concoction in a hot tub. In this way, I not only manage to get the oil all over my skin but also into my lungs (through the resulting vapor from the hot water). And on most occasions when I feel that a migraine is fast approaching, I would say that this particular remedy indeed does do the trick.
Whenever you make use of lavender oil, just make sure that it comes free of any impurities. I know that a lot of OTC brands these days feature lavender oil in their product lines, and tempt customers with their cheap prices. But most of these (and I speak from personal experience) can actually be more harmful than good in the long run. And you really don’t want to deal with substandard substances when it comes to dealing with your migraine headaches.
Feverfew is a medicinal herb that resembles the look of a daisy. For centuries, it has been used in the folk medicinal cultures of many nations across the globe. Even today, many Native American and Ayurvedic healers make plentiful use of feverfew-containing compounds to treat various ailments – and most commonly migraines.
I first came to know about feverfew tea from a friend over five years ago, and I have used it almost regularly since that time. And based on all the personal research that I’ve conducted on the herb, I’ve discovered that drinking its tea is one of the best ways to reap some pain-relieving benefit from it.
To make feverfew tea, simply take a teaspoon of crushed feverfew in a cup, and pour boiling water over it. Steep the medicine for at least 30 minutes to extract all the oils from the herb, and then drink it in steps.
Before trying feverfew tea, check with your doctor if it interferes with any existing medications that you may be taking. Feverfew ingestions have been known to interact with some drugs intended to correct the various workings of the liver.
Peppermint oil is great when it comes to putting a stop to your migraine outbreaks. It even works to calm your nerves during the acute stage, in which you really feel like banging your head against a wall. Or suffocating it with a heavy pillow!
The menthol present in peppermint oil is responsible for much of the medicinal benefits attained from the herb. To relieve your headache, simply rub some of it on your temples for about five consecutive minutes. After a short period, you may notice some of the edges come off of your migraine; making it more tolerable.
Another way of making use of peppermint oil is to mix it in some clean boiling water (10-15 drops per 125ml), and then inhale the vapor.
Ginger powder is a common ingredient in many South Asian and Oriental cuisines. In its pure form, it also makes for a great migraine cure. In fact, some research studies have shown that it actually compares with the triptan drug Sumatriptan in its efficacy – and potential to reduce migraine-associated nausea and acute pain.
When you fear that an episode is about to occur, simply taste half a teaspoon of ginger powder – and let it absorb through your digestive tract into your bloodstream. After 15-30 minutes, you should experience a gradual cessation of your migraine symptoms. To facilitate the powder’s delivery to your stomach, you can also drink half a glass of water.
When trying this tip, just make sure that you don’t mix the powder with any other food substance; as this will greatly reduce its efficacy. Also, don’t take any caffeinated drinks for about half an hour afterward; otherwise you’ll cancel out the blood pressure stabilization effect of the ginger compounds.
A Word of Caution – and some parting advice
Before trying any of these remedies, please remember to pass them through your GP first. You also need to rule out any possible interactions with the nutritional/health supplements that you may be taking. In the event of acute migraine episodes that don’t resolve with any home-based treatment, seek professional medical help right away – and without delay.
Recently, I saw an herbal medicine documentary titled The Power of Herbs on my Frontier Cable plan. And it detailed – at great length – how certain natural herb combinations can actually work to poison your body instead of healing it. And this is precisely what I want to prevent happening in your case. In this sense, a little extra research, coupled with some background checks, goes a long way.