Throw open the shades and ditch the ice packs for good. We asked experts for the best ways to get relief from a migraine so, here are migraine relief tips.
Migraines can be debilitating—the auras, the sensitivity to light and sound, the crushing headaches—but you don’t have to grit your teeth and bear them until the pain passes. We asked three different alternative and traditional professionals for their best treatments so you can start to feel better faster.
A NEUROLOGIST SAYS:
Migraine sufferers have hyperexcitable neurons that leave the brain vulnerable to headache triggers like stress, dehydration, weather or hormonal changes. Ease migraine symptoms with medicine and healthy habits.
Treatment to Try: If you get migraines four or more days a month, see a neurologist to discuss daily preventive medications. These can take six to eight weeks to be fully effective. you can also try acute meds when a headache starts, which stop pain within two hours. nonprescription options may help, too. Eat at least three meals a day, never more than six hours apart, as hunger may be a trigger. Fill your diet with leafy greens, lean meat and fish to get two key preventive vitamins: B2 and CoQ10. Supplements of vitamin B2, CoQ10 and magnesium may help, too. Staying hydrated, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly can assist in keeping you ache-free. Aim for 30-to 40-minute exercise sessions three or more times a week, as the resulting endorphins protect against migraines.
—Joshua Cohen, M.D., M.P.H., attending neurologist at Mount Sinai Roosevelt Hospital in New York City
AN INTEGRATIVE NUTRITIONIST SAYS:
Migraines are often triggered by specific food and drinks. If you know what prompts your headaches, you can adjust your diet accordingly.
Treatment to Try: Often, migraines are symptoms of an intolerance to histamines, the immune system chemicals that communicate with your brain and help break down food. Skip high-histamine foods like fermented beverages (e.g. wine and beer), cured meats and dried fruits. Go for low-histamine options instead, such as fresh vegetables, coconut oil and non-aged or smoked meat.
Since triggers vary person to person, keep a log of your migraines, food intake and sleep habits, and bring it to a registered dietitian. She will analyze it and determine potent triggers so you know what to skip. She may also give a food sensitivity test, which can pinpoint problematic eats. Augment your diet with other natural cures. You could begin a meditation practice—focusing on breath and calming anxiety can ease migraines. Try daily feverfew supplements, and, when you a feel a headache coming on, aromatherapy. Peppermint and citrus oils offer relief; you can apply one onto your skin or diffuse it.
—Laura Lagano, M.S., R.D.N., integrative nutritionist practicing in Hoboken, N.J.
AN ACUPUNCTURIST AND HERBALIST SAYS:
In Chinese medicine, migraines signify that Qi, or energy, is not circulating properly in the head. Traditional Chinese Medicine can help reduce their frequency and duration.
Treatment to Try: Clinical research has shown acupuncture to be effective for migraines, both in prevention and acute attacks. Based on your diagnosis, an acupuncturist will either draw excess energy down from your head or bring energy up to it. (You’ll likely start with weekly visits that taper to monthly.) Chinese medicine strives to heal the whole person, not just individual symptoms, so also see an herbalist. He’ll prescribe a personalized herbal formula that fixes headache-causing imbalances. If your migraines are part of musculoskeletal issues, massage or chiropractic care can help.
—Noah Rubinstein, M.S., licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and director of the YinOva Center in New York City