How to get rid of a migraine quickly? There are plenty of ways to naturally and pharmacologically get rid of a migraine. Today, I’m going to discuss about nine home remedies that will help to prevent, shorten, or ease the symptoms of migraines.
What are migraines
Migraineur is the term used to refer to migraine sufferers. Simply put, migraine is a persistent neurological disorder that’s caused by a number of things, such as stress, smoke exposure, allergies, poor systemic or brain circulation, irregular sleeping patterns, and foods containing monosodium glutamate, tyramine, or nitrates.
How long can migraines last
It varies for each migraineur, but migraine headaches will usually last for a few hours to three days.
Normally, a person experiences what’s called an aura (e.g. light flashes, sensitivity to sound or smell, and blind spots) before a migraine attack. Other symptoms of migraine are nausea, vomiting (may or not be present), and excruciating pain that could get worse with physical activity.
How to get rid of a migraine quickly and naturally
Solution #1: Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
Although it’s called feverfew, this plant from the daisy family isn’t really effective for that condition. However, previous studies have shown that it may be used to prevent migraines. Researchers just aren’t sure what exact part of the plant is most effective against migraines. Some say that it’s the leaves that are more effective for that purpose.
In one double-blind, placebo-controlled study, participants were given either placebo or dried feverfew leaves in a capsule form once a day. After four months, the participants switched to the other treatment for another four months.
Good news: Dried feverfew capsule was found to be effective. It was able to lower the intensity and frequency of migraine attacks. Sorry, though, feverfew wasn’t able to shorten the duration of each attack.
Above-ground parts of a feverfew are mostly used for treating migraine. Feverfew supplements are available in various forms, like freeze-dried capsules, liquid extracts, tablets, and fresh herb. Make sure the feverfew supplement you’re purchasing contains a standardized amount of parthenolide, a compound that’s believed to reduce inflammation and smooth muscle spasms.
Freeze-dried capsule is often the preferred form of feverfew because of its standardized formula. Besides, fresh and tea forms of feverfew are bitter and could irritate your mouth.
Take 6.25 milligrams of feverfew capsule thrice a day for 4 months. [Source: University of Maryland Medical Center] In some clinical studies, a dose of up to 100 milligrams with 0.2 to 0.35% parthenolides was used.
Remember, since it’s a prophylaxis, it’s only effective against migraine if taken before an attack. Take it every day for several weeks in order to experience significant improvements in your migraine headache.
Like other herbal remedies, feverfew also has side effects. Chewing feverfew leaves may possibly cause mouth sores, swelling, and taste loss. Other side effects are upset stomach, intestinal gas, pain, vomiting, and nausea.
Solution #2: Butterbur
Just like feverfew, butterbur is also considered a prophylaxis for migraine. It’s widely recommended substitute to feverfew because it’s proven to be effective against long-term, frequent, and incapacitating migraines.
Petasin is the natural compound found in butterbur that’s said to alleviate muscles spasms and inflammation. These antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory actions of butterbur help ease or prevent migraine headaches.
A previous study involving Petadolex®, a type of butterbur root extract, was reanalyzed by a group of independent researchers. This study enrolled 33 subjects, which were randomly given placebo and butterbur (two 25mg capsules taken two times daily). After 21 weeks of treatment, results showed that Petadolex® was able to lower the incidence of migraines every month. No side effects were noted.
Another study suggested that combining butterbur root extract with music therapy is a superior alternative to placebo and prophylactic meds.
In the past, the root of butterbur was used for medicinal purposes. In recent years, most products use the leaves of this plant instead of the roots to avoid pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), which are toxic substances that can damage your liver in the long run. That’s why you should look for a butterbur supplement that’s labeled “PA-free,” which is safe to use.
Butterbur is available in the following forms:
- Soft gel capsule
Although butterbur is generally considered safe to consume, it may still produce some side effects, like fatigue, constipation, bad breath, indigestion, allergies, and elevated liver enzymes (possible).
Solution #3: 5-Hydrotryptophan (Serotonin)
Both 5-hydrotryptophan and methysergide are effective migraine prophylaxis, say researchers of a study. However, methysergide caused more side effects than 5-hydrotryptophan, which benefited migraine sufferers by reducing the severity and duration of the attacks.
The scientific world is not totally convinced that 5-hydrotryptophan works for this purpose. Some clinical studies show it has no beneficial effect on migraines at all. This fact didn’t stop its use clinically for over three decades, though.
5-hydrotryptophan (5-HTP) is a kind of amino acid that’s naturally produced by our bodies. It’s derived from L-tryptophan (LT), an essential amino acid found in protein-rich foods. They say it works for headaches or migraines because of its ability to boost serotonin production.
What’s the connection between serotonin and migraines?
Experts say deficiency of serotonin is linked to eating disorders, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), mood problems, migraines, and so on. After L-tryptophan is converted into 5-hydrotryptophan, it gets converted into serotonin. Thus, it makes sense to take supplements containing this amino acid.
Unfortunately, you can’t get 5-hydrotryptophan from foods. You can, however, get L-tryptophan from certain beverages and foods, such as chicken, pumpkin, milk, and seaweeds. But even tryptophan-rich foods can’t significantly boost 5-hydrotryptophan levels.
There are only two major sources of this amino acid: your body and Griffonia simplicifolia seeds. Griffonia simplicifolia is a shrub that’s native to western and central Africa. It’s highly abundant in 5-HTP. Specifically, its seeds contain as much as 20% of this compound.
Griffonia simplicifolia extracts can be found in a lot of herbal and multivitamin dietary supplements. The usual dosage recommended by doctors for 5-HTP is 50 milligrams, which is taken up to three times daily. [Source: University of Maryland Medical Center] Make sure to consult your doctor before taking higher doses because of the possibility of toxic effects.
Bloating, nausea, stomach ache, and gas are some of the mild side effects of 5-HTP. This shouldn’t be taken by kids, especially children with Down’s syndrome, and with the following meds: Carbidopa (anti-Parkinson’s), Imitrex, Amerge, Maxalt, and other prescription drugs.
Solution #4: Magnesium-Rich Foods and Supplement
Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in our bodies. Majority of this mineral is deposited in our bones, and the rest is in our blood and cells. Some of the foods rich in magnesium are raw spinach, kale, chard, squash seeds, pumpkin seeds, tuna, mackerel, beans, lentils, avocados, brown rice, bananas, and plain yogurt (non-fat).
There are many reasons why we need trace amounts of magnesium. For one, it’s essential for maintaining the health of your nervous system. Low levels of magnesium could lead to irritability of the nerves. Based on this notion, it’s believed that magnesium deficiency could cause a migraine.
In one study, supplementation of magnesium sulfate via intravenous infusion was able to quickly and continuously offer relief to 50% of the patients. Oral magnesium could be taken, but the problem is some of its forms are poorly absorbed. Thus, researchers recommended 600mg of chelated magnesium diglycinate daily.
Chelated magnesium supplement is chemically combined with an organic compound, such as amino acid, in order for the body to recognize it as a food. Thus, it’s easily digested and absorbed by the body.
Magnesium is currently marketed in the following preparations: capsule, tablet (enteric coated and extended release), syrup, powder, liquid extract, suspension powder, and injections (which should be given by a qualified healthcare professional).
Common side effects of magnesium supplement are:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal cramps
- Breathing difficulties
- Low blood pressure (hypotension)
- Muscle weakness.
Individuals with kidney problems should refrain from taking high doses of magnesium, because their kidneys are unable to remove the excess magnesium. Make sure to do the necessary lab works to confirm that you really have low levels of this mineral.
Solution #5: Massage Therapy
Weekly massage sessions were apparently good for a group of people who participated in a randomized, controlled trial. Compared to the control group, they experienced significant improvements in terms of frequency of migraine attacks and quality of their sleep. During the intervention sessions, their cortisol (the stress hormone) levels, heartbeat, and anxiety were reduced.
Normally, head massage are combined with medicine, diet and lifestyle changes in order to maximize its benefits. Certain types of massage can help temporarily relieve the pain by stimulating the release of serotonin, which I mentioned has been linked to migraines. Massage can also be used as an alternative to chemical-based pain reliever meds.
Examples of different types of massages are deep tissue massage, reflexology, Rolfing (deep tissue manipulation), shiatsu, Swedish massage, and craniosacral relaxation therapy. Based on research, it’s the craniosacral relaxation therapy that best benefit migraineurs.
Craniosacral relaxation therapy is done by a qualified therapist. When undergoing this massage type, you lie with your face up, so the therapist can tenderly massage your scalp and skull bones. Your nerve endings are also given a special attention to calm them down and ease the pain you’re feeling.
Some experts contraindicate the use of head massage during a severe migraine attack. Working on the neck is also discouraged because it may increase blood flow to the area, which would only heighten the pain you’re feeling.
If you’re unsure about what type of massage fits your condition, please consult your doctor first. You may have other health issues, like varicose veins, chemotherapy, or sprain, which contraindicate the use of any physical manipulation techniques.
Solution #6: Riboflavin
Riboflavin (vitamin B2) is a water-soluble vitamin that helps keep our skin, liver, hair, and eyes healthy. It’s also necessary for the nervous system to function properly. Since our body doesn’t store riboflavin—because it’s water soluble—we need to follow a well-balanced diet to avoid deficiency problems.
Who are at risk for riboflavin deficiency? Alcoholics and old people are at higher risk for this kind of health issue. Typical symptoms of riboflavin deficiency are stunted growth, mouth sores or cracks, extreme tiredness, sore throat, light sensitivity, and swollen tongue.
Here are some examples of the best food sources of riboflavin:
- Lean meat
- Whole grains
- Brussels sprouts
- Riboflavin-fortified cereals and flours
Riboflavin can be easily bought as individual tablets (25, 50, and 100 milligrams) or combined in multivitamins or B-complex vitamins. As usual, consult your doctor before giving this to a child.
Interestingly, there are a growing number of studies suggesting that migraine sufferers could reduce the duration and frequency of their migraine attacks by taking riboflavin.
In one 1998 study, researchers randomly tested the effects of placebo and riboflavin (400mg) on 55 migraineurs. After 3 months, it was apparent that riboflavin was superior to placebo. It was able to decrease the participants duration and frequency of the migraine attacks.
Although riboflavin may not be recommended for kids, researchers of one study think that it’s a safe and effective prophylaxis for migraine in kids and adolescents. Participants were given 200mg or 400mg of oral riboflavin daily for 3, 4, or 6 months.
The results of this study only confirmed the result of the previous study. Riboflavin was able to reduce the intensity and frequency of migraine attacks during treatment, but its effects were even better during the follow up period.
More studies still need to be done to compare riboflavin with other standard migraine prophylaxis meds. But since it’s affordable, well-tolerated, and significantly efficient, riboflavin is still a good option for preventing a migraine.
Are there any side effects?
Even at large dosage amounts, riboflavin is still relatively considered safe. However, individuals taking 10mg or more daily should make sure they wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays.
Other minor side effects of taking high doses of riboflavin are orange or yellow urine, light sensitivity, itching, and burning, tingling, or lack of sensation.
Solution #7: Caffeine
Caffeine is not entirely evil, if you just know how to take it. It’s actually used in many over-the-counter and prescription medicines, in combination with other drugs, like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and ergotamine. Ergotamine belongs to the ergot alkaloids family. It works by constricting brain blood vessels.
Why is it a desirable ingredient in many drugs? Caffeine additives speed up absorption of certain medicines in order to deliver their therapeutic effects sooner. It also enhances the effect of pain meds, so individuals can take less of them.
Is caffeine able to relieve pain if used alone? Researchers of one study explored this idea. They gave fifty-three individuals with headaches (but without debilitating migraines) three treatments: acetaminophen, placebo, caffeine (2 doses), and acetaminophen with 2 combinations of caffeine.
The result of the study confirmed the earlier notion—that caffeine alone can relieve the pain. In fact, it has effects equal to acetaminophen.
Treating migraines with caffeine should be done for only a short period of time. Specifically, it should not be more than 2 or 3 days per week to avoid increased migraine attacks or caffeine dependency.
Watch out for withdrawal symptoms, such as insomnia, dizziness, dehydration, palpitations, and shaking. Avoid or limit your use of any supplements or drinks containing caffeine if you’re prone to frequent migraine attacks, too sensitive to the effects of caffeine, and breastfeeding or pregnant.
Caffeine may also interact with other drugs. Make sure to talk to your doctor whether a drug you’re taking will negatively interact with caffeine.
Solution #8: Aromatherapy
Essential oils have extensive healing properties that make aromatherapy a possible complementary treatment for headaches and migraines. It’s not a complete cure, but it can help ease the symptoms of migraine and provide relaxation.
I understand that smell can be a trigger for you. But as what other migraineurs have found out, there are several aromatherapy essential oils you can use that won’t trigger an attack.
There are generally three to four types of essential oils used for easing the pain, according to researchers who examined forty-four experimental human studies. Roman chamomile, clary sage, lavender, and rosemary are four of the most commonly used essential oils in these studies.
Here are other essential oils to treat a migraine:
- Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
- Bay (extracted from sweet or Mediterranean bay)
How to get rid of a migraine with essential oils? Experts aren’t really sure about the exact mechanism of action of aromatherapy. Although it’s widely believed that the smell coming from essential oils can stimulate the brain parts that are responsible for memories and emotions (hippocampus and amygdala). Another theory is that aromatherapy essential oils may interact with serum enzymes or hormones to promote general well being.
What’s the best way to enjoy the healing effects of aromatherapy? Mostly the oils are used for massage (50%), and then followed by inhalation (13.6%) or a combination of the two (13.6%).
Aromatherapy massage is effective because it delivers the beneficial effects of essential oils through two ways: inhalation and skin absorption. Plus, you can also take advantage of the benefits of massage therapy, which is ‘Solution #5’ in this list.
Try experimenting with different essential oils until you find the ones that best work for your condition. According to a study, aromatherapy can help reduce your intake of pain meds, like acetaminophen.
Reminders and Warnings
- Do patch testing first. Don’t forget this step to avoid allergic reactions. This is usually performed by mixing an essential oil with your choice of carrier oil (e.g. coconut oil and sweet almond oil). Apply on the hairless part of your skin in your inner lower arm. Wait for 30 minutes to 6 hours for adverse reactions.
- Kids, pregnant women, asthmatics, and people with high blood pressure or known allergies should avoid using aromatherapy essential oils. Use this under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional.
- Side effects are generally rare for aromatherapy, but if it did produce undesirable effects (rash, headache, liver damage, asthma), stop using this remedy.
Solution #9: Ginger
Apparently ginger’s anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy properties could help bring relief to migraineurs. According to one report, a woman from Denmark experienced relief just 30 minutes after taking 500mg to 600mg of powdered ginger, which she switched to a raw ginger after a few days. Of course, double-blind studies need to be done for this to be conclusive.
Another study used placebo and a supplement that contained feverfew and ginger (LipiGesic™M). At the end of the study, researchers found out that LipiGesic™M was more effective than the placebo.
Majority of the participants (63%) were able to experience significant pain relief—either their headaches became milder or the pain totally went away—just two hours after taking the supplement during the early phase of the attack.
Generally, ginger is well tolerated by many people. Most clinical trials give ginger preparations in 250 milligrams to 1 gram dosages, which are taken up to four times a day. Some of the mild side effects of ginger consumption are diarrhea, irritated mouth, and upset stomach.
Each person afflicted with migraine—or even each migraine attack—requires different therapeutic intervention. Sometimes, the migraine attack is so severe or prolonged that more sophisticated therapy is required, while other times less immediate treatment is needed for milder cases.
If you’re seeking natural treatments for migraines, try to use the ones I’ve mentioned above. Remember, however, seek the advice of your physician before trying any of these remedies. This is to ensure you’re health is not compromised while trying to fight a migraine.