Asger Hee Stjernholm, MSc

Home Remedies to Help You Live Better With Migraine

Most migraine sufferers need to take pharmaceutical medications to manage their symptoms — but there are ways to help relieve the pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light or sound that come with a migraine without medication.

Home remedies, such as essential oils, may be especially valuable if you have been taking medications for a long time. After all, overuse of some migraine treatments can cause a medication overuse headache (also known as rebound headache), which’ll make you feel even worse, not better.

And while home remedies most likely won’t be able to stop the symptoms of migraine altogether, they can certainly help to ease or reduce them.

So let’s take a look at some of the best home remedies for migraine, to help you live a better and more comfortable life day in and day out.

3 home remedies to relieve the symptoms of migraine

As soon as you start to feel the warning signs of a migraine, you can use these home remedies to relieve the symptoms and help numb the pain.

Do be aware, though, that even natural remedies can interact with other medications, so please always check with your doctor before adding home remedies to your migraine management regime.

Peppermint oil

How it works

The active ingredient in peppermint oil is menthol. This is thought to help muscles relax and relieve pain, which is why it can be useful in treating both migraine and tension headaches. In fact, a study carried out in 2015 proved that when applied directly to the skin, menthol gel significantly improved headache pain. What’s more, inhaling peppermint oil might also prove useful if you have a sinus headache.

How to use it

There are a few different ways you can use peppermint oil to help your migraines:

  • You could add a few drops to a bath, inhale it with steam, or diffuse it into the air
  • You could dilute it, and gently massage it into your skin or skull
  • You could even drink peppermint tea or eat peppermint candy, too

The benefits of peppermint oil for migraine

By relaxing the muscles, you should feel pain dissipate over time. But a bonus of peppermint oil is that it might be effective even if you aren’t sure whether your headache is caused by a migraine or by something else, like tension or sinus inflammation. It’s a really versatile treatment that’ll help you in a general way, even if you’re not totally sure of what is causing your head pain.

Be aware that…

Peppermint oil is an essential oil. It is a concentrated extract of peppermint and therefore can be an irritant if undiluted. It shouldn’t be swallowed by anyone, and it shouldn’t be inhaled by children or infants.

Lavender oil

How it works

Lavender oil is used by many people to promote stress relief and relaxation. For example, many say that inhaling lavender oil can help them to sleep more easily. For migraine sufferers, anything that relaxes the muscles could help to relieve the pain, whilst minimizing stress and promoting proper rest is a great way to help keep migraines at bay (more on home remedies to eliminate the causes of migraines later on).

How to use it

Like peppermint oil, you can add lavender oil to a bath, dilute it to massage it into your skin, or use it in a diffuser. If your migraines tend to strike at night, apply a couple of drops of lavender oil to your pillow, so you can breathe it in throughout the evening.

Benefits of lavender oil for migraine

As with peppermint oil, lavender helps to relax the muscles and reduce the pain you’ll feel. Even better: lavender is commonly used and easy to source. Head to any alternative medicine shop, or even local pharmacy, and they’ll have a wide selection of lavender-infused goods to try.

Be aware that...

As with all essential oils, there is a risk of allergic reaction or irritation from contact with lavender oil. That’s why you should always dilute with a carrier oil, if applying directly to your skin.

It’s important to remember also that pregnant or breastfeeding women shouldn’t use lavender oil — it’s not safe for children under 1 year old.

Ginger

How it works

Ginger contains the active compounds of gingerols and shogaols, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects. They may also help relieve nausea, too, which can be useful if you feel sick when you have a migraine.

How to use it

You can apply diluted ginger oil to your skin, drink ginger ale or tea, add ginger root to a meal or take a ginger capsule.

Benefits of ginger for migraine

When a migraine strikes, the last thing you want is to also have an upset tummy. Sipping ginger tea, or taking ginger in other edible forms, will help settle your stomach and calm nasty nausea. There are a variety of different ways you can take ginger to relieve your migraine symptoms, so it’s likely you can find a remedy which suits you.

Be aware that…

As with any remedy, if you take too much ginger, you may experience side effects. So keep an eye on how many different ginger products you’re using and why.

Of course, you should stop using ginger if your headaches worsen, and seek advice from your doctor.

Other useful ways to relieve migraine symptoms at home

Rest, silence and darkness

Switching off the lights and resting in a dark, quiet room might be the most valuable step you can take in relieving your migraine symptoms. If you can, you could also try to get some sleep.

Cold or warm compresses

Cold compresses can be numbing, and can help to reduce pain and inflammation. Try applying a cold cloth to your neck or temples to relieve a migraine headache.

Warm compresses, on the other hand, can also be useful if you need to relax tension, too. You could try a wheat bag (these can be heated in the microwave) around your neck, or seek a similar effect by having a warm shower or bath.

Acupressure

Acupressure works by stimulating pressure points along energy lines that run through the body.

As well as relieving the pain of migraine symptoms, a recent study showed that acupressure may help reduce fatigue in migraine sufferers — perfect if you find your migraines to be both physically and mentally draining to live with.

Speak to an acupressure professional, before trying anything at home on your own though!

Home remedies to help prevent migraine in the first place

The good news is, home remedies can also help prevent the onset of a migraine — stopping it in its tracks before any unwelcome symptoms crop up.

Herbal supplements are the best example of this:

Herbal supplements (such as butterbur and feverfew)

How they work

Feverfew is a herb, traditionally used to reduce fever. Butterbur is also a traditional herbal remedy for fever and pain.

How to use them

These are supplements that can be purchased from herbalists and taken regularly as directed on the packaging.

Benefits of herbal supplements for migraine

These remedies may be useful in preventing, or reducing, the frequency or severity of migraine symptoms.

Be aware that…

Care must be taken with dosages, and in monitoring the length of time these remedies are used for, to avoid toxicity. Specifically, butterbur has been linked to liver toxicity, so do consult your doctor before using them if you have any other health concerns.

Summing up

If you suffer from migraines regularly, it can feel like you’re popping pills and swallowing medicine far more often than you’d like. So why not try to save yourself the risk of medication overuse headache by trying one of these home remedies today?

And for more advice about living with migraines, head to our blog!

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