Those who suffer from migraine headaches are more than familiar with the debilitating pain that ensues when one strikes. While there are numerous OTC and prescription drugs available to combat the pain, some people would rather choose a more natural approach. Natural remedies for migraines aren’t accompanied by the same side effects that drugs have, and are often used for prevention rather than treatment. A healthy diet, herbal therapy and whole food supplements are natural options available to migraine sufferers; here are some tips for preventing and treating migraines naturally.
1. Natural Remedies for Migraines – Avoid Processed Foods
Many processed foods contain artificial sweeteners and preservatives that are known to trigger migraine headaches in some people. A common preservative, monosodium glutamate (MSG), is just one of many preservatives that have been found to cause severe reactions including migraine headaches.
In 2002, the FDA reported 92 cases of aspartame toxicity. The artificial sweetener was taken off the market due to reported side effects, but eventually allowed to be sold again even after the reported incidence. Other artificial sweeteners such as Splenda have also been reported to have caused adverse side effects, including headaches. Sucralose, the chemical name for Splenda, is actually responsible for a variety of ailments, giving a clear answer to the question: Is Splenda safe?
Limiting processed and fast foods as much as possible and using natural sweeteners such as honey and stevia may reduce the chance of having a reaction and a painful migraine headache.
2. Avoid Certain Foods
Some people experience migraine headaches after they consume certain foods. Among these foods are caffeinated drinks, alcohol, chocolate, peanuts, grains with gluten and dairy products. Switching to a very simple plant-based diet and introducing the suspected foods one at a time helps to sort out which foods are causing the headaches.
3. Lavender Therapy
Lavender has long been used by herbalists to treat a wide variety of conditions including insomnia, post surgery pain, anxiety, fungal infections and headaches. Migraine sufferers experience increased inflammation in blood vessels and spasms in the neck and eye muscles. Lavender acts as an analgesic and reduces inflammation in those that suffer from migraines. Lavender treatments can be administered in any number of ways including inhalation therapy, dried flower sachets, teas or hot packs.
Butterbur is an herb used commonly for pain. Acting as a beta-blocker, this medicinal plant controls blood pressure, reducing inflammation and stabilizes blood flow to the brain. Because some butterbur treatments contain chemicals (pyrrolizidine alkaloids) which can cause damage to the liver, it is important to choose only products that are certified and carry a “PA-free” label.
5. Lemongrass – Other Herbal Remedies
Although less implemented among natural remedies for migraines, herbal remedies have great potential in treating headaches or even migraines. Scientists from Griffith University found that Australian Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon Ambiguus) has been used for an untold number of years by indigenous Australians as traditional medicine, and with good reason. They say the effects of the plant could be as “good as aspirin when it comes to treating headaches,” only this is one of many herbal remedies for headaches without the side-effects associated with OTC medication.
6. Tryptophan Therapy
Tryptophan is an amino acid that simulates the brain to produce dopamine which releases serotonin. Serotonin elevates moods, relaxes the small muscles around the capillaries in the scalp, and reduces tension and anxiety. Consuming a high quality tryptophan supplement is the best way to get more of this helpful amino acid.
7. Herbal Pain Relief Tea
There are other herbs that are beneficial in the treatment of migraines including, peppermint, cayenne pepper and ginger. Ginger is especially useful to combat the nausea that often accompanies migraine headaches. To use the 3 herbs together in tea as a natural pain reliever, mix a one inch piece of ginger with a teaspoon of dried peppermint and a pinch of cayenne in boiling water. Allow the mixture to seep for 15 minutes before drinking. Sweeten only with honey or stevia.