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Are struggling at home with a migraine?  Are you unable to receive in-person treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

If you suffer from migraines frequently, you know how frustrating they can be.   A minor migraine might be a small nuisance but a severe episode can impact  your productivity for work or school.  For some, taking over-the-counter medications can be effective but for others, even taking prescribed medications isn’t enough.  So today, we’ll explore 3 home solutions for migraine headaches. 

Before we discuss migraine headaches, we must point out that there are many other different types of headaches.  Discussing every kind of headache is beyond the scope of this article.  No matter what type of headache you are experiencing, always consult your medical professional for proper diagnosis & treatment.  The contents of this article is not to be used as a substitute for medical diagnosis and is not intended for determining medical diagnosis or treatment whatsoever.  

Quick Facts on Migraines

Numerous studies (1) suggest that migraines are genetic, which means if you suffer from migraines, you probably have a parent, sibling or relative who also gets migraines.  

Migraine headache is reported as the 6th most disabling illness in the world1. If you are a migraine sufferer, you are not alone and there are many others looking for solutions to this condition. 

"12% of the population suffers from migraine headaches & Every 3 out of 4 cases are females"

Early Warning Signs

You might be surprised to learn  that a migraine attack can start up to 48 hours before experiencing head pain.  These pre-headache symptoms can easily be missed.  They might include innocent symptoms like:

  • food cravings
  • irritability
  • reduced concentration
  • neck stiffness
  • repetitive yawning 

You might consider using your prevention remedies when these symptoms first appear, BEFORE the head pain starts.  These could include using medications or receiving treatments like acupuncture, laser or nerve stimulation. 

These pre-headache symptoms are not to be confused with Auras. 

What About Aura’s?

Only about 1/3 of migraine patients experience them.  These are most often described as temporary changes to their vision such as seeing sparkles of light.  Auras usually last from 5 to 60 minutes.  About 10% of migraine sufferers describe other non-visual symptoms during their aura.  Typically the headache phase of a migraine starts sometime after the pre-headache symptoms or an Aura. 

 

Typical Migraine Headache Symptoms

  • Pain is often on one side       
  • Throbbing sensation
  • Nausea
  • Sensitivity to light or brightness
  • Sensitivity to sound or loud noise
  • Lasts 4-72 hours
  • Tiredness, neck stiffness or difficulty concentrating continues even after the head pain resolves

3 Natural Treatments for Migraines You Can do at Home

6 Common Culprits to Avoid

There are numerous lifestyle changes that might prevent or reduce the number of migraine attacks.  Dietary modifications is an area well discussed in the medical community and is an ever evolving field.  Recently, one study (2) suggested that there are 6 main foods & beverages you might want to avoid, including caffeine, wine, spirits, citrus, dairy and chocolate.  Some patients may also benefit from food sensitivity testing to help reduce migraines.

 

Ketogenic Diet

Ketogenic-like diets have shown some promising results (3) in reducing migraine headaches.   Ketogenic diets appear to reduce migraine frequency and pain intensity through reducing neural inflammation and stabilizing blood sugar control.  The ketogenic diet consists mainly of proteins and fats which helps you avoid large fluctuations of blood sugar.   During the Ketogenic diet, patients experienced decrease in migraine frequency and attack duration within the first month.   If you are considering the Ketogenic diet, consider consulting with a Naturopathic Doctor to make sure it is right for you.

 

Stress Reduction

Besides dietary changes, stress reduction and having good sleeping habits could all contribute to the reduction of migraine attacks.  There is a notable correlation (4) between anxiety and chronic migraine patients (more than 15 attacks per month).  Consider techniques to reduce stress and anxiety that can be done at home like mindfulness meditation and relaxation techniques that involve deep breathing.  

Clinical Treatments for Migraines

While there is no cure for migraine headaches, there are numerous treatments that are effective and supported by scientific evidence.  If you’ve had migraines for many years, you’ve probably tried different types of pain medications.  Medications can range from over-the-counter medications to  pain relievers prescribed by a physician.  Botox injections  have also been effective in some migraine sufferers. 

Other non-medicinal interventions that have shown good results include acupuncture, chiropractic treatment and external nerve stimulation.   

We hope you enjoyed our short review on migraine headaches.  If you have any questions or want to know how our team can assist you with your migraine headaches, please contact us by email or call 647-931-8108.  

Written by: Dr. Kevin Ho, RN, DC, Dipl. Auc.

Date: May 15, 2020

References: 

(1) Goadsby PJ, Holland PR, Martins-Oliveira M, Hoffmann J, Schankin C, Akerman S. Pathophysiology of Migraine: A Disorder of Sensory Processing.  Physiol Rev. 2017 Apr;97(2):553-622 . 

(2) De Marchis ML, Guadagni F, Silvestris E, Lovero D, Della-Morte D, Ferroni P, Barbanti P, Palmirotta R. Genetic bases of the nutritional approach to migraine. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2018 Mar 8:1-13. 

(3) Di Lorenzo C, Coppola G, Bracaglia M, Di Lenola D, Evangelista M, Sirianni G, Rossi P, Di Lorenzo G, Serrao M, Parisi V, Pierelli F. Cortical functional correlates of responsiveness to short-lasting preventive intervention with ketogenic diet in migraine: a multimodal evoked potentials study. J Headache Pain. 2016;17:58 

(4) Chu HT, Liang CS, Lee JT, Yeh TC, Lee MS, Sung YF, Yang FC.  Associations Between Depression/Anxiety and Headache Frequency in Migraineurs: A Cross-Sectional Study.  Headache. 2018 Mar;58(3):407-415. 

Disclaimer:  The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.