In a world where stress, anxiety, hormones and even the weather can trigger migraines, it might seem like there’s not much you can do but take a pill and cross your fingers when a headache strikes.
But who can’t live without the side effects of some of the meds that treat them (dizziness, nausea, fatigue, racing heartbeat, anyone?).
Whether your migraine is caused by inner or outer noise, there are better ways to relieve and prevent headaches naturally.
We rounded up our favorites.
1. Sniff pleasurable scents
According to The Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, certain scents — such as cigarette smoke and heavy perfumes — can trigger migraine pain.
Others can actually diffuse it.
In recent studies, headache sufferers who sniffed a green apple scent reported considerable relief.
Other studies have shown that memories evoked by food smells can bring on a more positive mood and alleviate pain.
So if you have fond memories of grandma and her famous peach cobbler, the next time you get a migraine, lean over a fruit basket and take in the aroma.
2. Slather on peppermint oil
Your favorite food smells aren’t the only scents that can help kick that migraine in the bud.
Peppermint oil appears to promote pain relief as well, thanks to its essential oil menthol, the source of its medicinal value.
The oil’s scent is known to be calming and numbing. When slathered on the forehead and temples, it can serve as a natural medication for migraines.
3. Sip some java
If you feel that pinging pain coming on, grab a cup coffee, and you might ward off hours’ worth of debilitating pain.
Caffeine constricts blood vessels, decreasing pain, and acts as a brain stimulant so you can focus better.
4. Try herbs, lemon and ginger
Steeping a bit of feverfew herb in your tea can also add a migraine-fighting boost to your caffeine treatment — the plant contains parthenolide, a chemical that has been linked to migraine relief for centuries.
Not up for a hot beverage?
Try giving this refreshing lemon ginger water a gulp. Lemon and ginger help ease inflammation, a common cause of migraines.
5. Lower your stress level
Tight muscles and spasms are a migraine trigger for many people.
Sore necks and backs are common among those who work at a desk or drive for long hours — you may even be causing your face and scalp tension by clenching your teeth at night.
The best ways to loosen up:
- Get a massage twice weekly. You’ll undo the damage that causes your head regular pain. Check out Living Social or Groupon for affordable options near you.
- Meditate. It’s free and easy, and it helps reduce the frequency of migraines while increasing tolerance to pain.
- Work out regularly. Research has shown that there are modest benefits for people predisposed to migraines who work out regularly. Not only does regular exercise reduce stress and tension, it also promotes better sleep — lack of restful sleep is yet another circumstance that contributes to chronic pain.
6. Take a supplement
Supplements are a good alternative to over-the counter-drugs.
Magnesium, butterbur and fish oil, specifically, can all help ease migraine pain.
Some people who experience chronic migraines and cluster headaches are often deficient in magnesium; one study found that daily magnesium supplements reduced migraine frequency by 42 percent! Butterbur, on the other hand, regulates how your blood vessels operate, reduces pain and calms your nervous system.
And fish oil, an anti-inflammatory, can help ease swelling head pain.
7. Stretch it out
Certain yoga poses can help relieve tension, improve circulation and help calm you down as well.
Stretch regularly, and you won’t just keep your body in check — you’ll also alleviate painful headaches when you need relief the most.