Migraines are the big bad wolves of headaches. They’re persistent, hard to keep out, and they’ll ruin your day real quick. Women tend to suffer from migraines almost three times as much as men do. When you’re in the midst of a migraine, there’s not much you can do but buckle down and try to get through it. You may close your eyes and go somewhere quiet, but those don’t do much to stop the glaring pain in your head. Luckily, prevention and effective healing herbs can work for migraines. Read on to see our list of helpful herbs for migraines.
A Quick Note
We know that some medicinal herbs are great for cooking, like lemon balm and rosemary. They’ve been proven pretty safe, particularly in small amounts. However, it’s important that we mention you should always talk to a medical professional before making any major dietary changes— especially if those changes include medicinal herbs.
Many of the herbs on this list have limited modern research behind them, even if they’ve been used for hundreds or thousands of years. Many healing herbs can also interfere with medication, so it’s always best to talk to your doctor before going herb crazy!
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it.
Herbs for Migraine
Pretty much everyone is familiar with this herb in some way or another. It’s been used for a very long time to treat:
- Muscle Spasms
- Stomach Problems
Menthol, the active ingredient in peppermint oil, has been shown to be effective against migraines when applied to the skin of the forehead and temples. In the study, they found that a 10% solution worked well.
You can also get peppermint tea or capsules for ingestion, although the data on its effectiveness through digestion is lacking.
The ginger plant is amazing in my ways. Studies show that ginger has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antifungal, and even antibacterial properties. But it has also been shown to be as effective against migraines as one prescription migraine medicine. Ginger has been used to treat:
- Stomach Pain
- Common Cold and Flu
You can find ginger in many forms at your local grocery store. Whether you want powder, tea, root, capsules, or even ginger water— chances are they’ve got it.
Yes, everyone’s best friend caffeine can also help migraines. One study, in particular, showed that a dose of caffeine mixed with acetaminophen was very effective at reducing migraine symptoms. However, before you use this information to justify drinking that fifth cup of coffee, we’ve got some bad news. For some, consuming caffeine can trigger a migraine. And caffeine withdrawal is also a potential source for those painful headaches.
If you’re curious, caffeine has also been used to treat:
- Kidney Disease
- Skin Damage
- Stomach Problems
- High Blood Pressure
- Circulatory Issues
Since its use in ancient Egypt, the oil from lavender plant flowers has remained popular in cultures around the world. The effects of this sweet-smelling oil are thought to be medicinal and therapeutic. Some data suggest that inhaling lavender oil can help quickly alleviate migraine symptoms. It has been used to treat many ailments over the years:
- Mental Health Issues
However, lavender oil can be toxic if enough of it is ingested. You can dilute it and use it as a topical solution, but it may irritate some people’s skin. Try a solution of 8oz water and 4 drops of lavender oil to see if it works for you.
While the jury is still out on rosemary’s effectiveness against migraines, it does have plenty of other benefits. Many people use rosemary oil in aromatherapy and diluted as a topical solution. It’s believed to have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. A few of the things rosemary is believed to treat include:
- Joint Pain
- Concentration Issues
- Muscle Spasms
- Circulatory Problems
- Liver Problems
You can get rosemary oil, tea, capsules, and tinctures. It’s widely available and you don’t need a green thumb to grow it!
Natural Remedies for Migraines
Most of the herbs for migraine mentioned above have shown promise but lack exhaustive information on migraine treatments. As a result, we’d like to share with you a few other ways to deal with migraines. These include fast ways to get rid of migraines and some preventative options that have helped many people.
- Chiropractic Care
- It may seem strange, but spinal adjustments done by chiropractors have been shown to reduce migraines. After all, many migraines are the result of an imbalance in the body.
- Get Some Magnesium
- Many Americans don’t get enough magnesium, which is a vital mineral. Getting enough magnesium can not only stop a migraine— it can prevent their frequency and severity, too. You can even get magnesium by taking warm baths with Epsom salts. Plus there’s the added benefit of relaxing in a bath!
- Try a Cold Compress
- If you’ve never tried it, a cold compress to the back of your neck or your forehead is worth a shot. Some people have even had luck with a hot compress, as well.
Mind Your Diet
One of the major triggers for many migraines comes from food. Avoiding certain foods can help you reduce migraines or possibly even eliminate them altogether.
- Things to Avoid
- Smoked Meats
- Alcohol (red wine and beer)
- Fermented Foods
- Food Dyes
- Things that are Okay
- Fresh Foods (most fruits and veggies)
- Olive Oil
- Low-Fat Foods
- Lots of Water
This list is not the end-all-be-all. Different people have different migraine triggers, so the best thing to do is determine what yours are. When you get a migraine, track what you ate, what you were doing, where you were, and what kind of mood you were in. Unfortunately, stress, food, hormones, and even bright light can all trigger migraines. What you know what your triggers are, you can do your best to avoid them in the future.
About the Author:
Dr. Brent Wells founded Better Health Alaska in 1998. He is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. The goal for Dr. Wells is to treat his patients in Juneau, Alaska through chiropractic care, massage therapy, and physical therapy with care and compassion while providing them with a better quality of life.
NIH: Preventive treatment in migraine and the new US guidelines
NIH: Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.
NIH: The Journal of Headache and Pain
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