Migraine alternative treatments seek to relieve pain during a headache, to reduce the frequency of headaches, or to reduce the need for traditional medications. As is the case with many alternative treatments for any disease or condition, opinions are often mixed as to the efficacy of some treatment methods, and research is often minimal in comparison to traditional medicine treatments.
However, many people have had success in using alternative treatments in the management of many diseases and conditions, including migraine. Before trying any migraine alternative treatments, you should always check with your doctor to be sure that the methods are safe and right for you.
Herbs and Supplements
Some scientific evidence suggests that a few over-the-counter herbs and supplements may prevent migraines or reduce their severity. However, some can have potentially dangerous side effects, especially for pregnant women, so always check with your doctor before starting any supplements.
- High doses of riboflavin (vitamin B-2) have been shown to reduce the frequency (but not the severity or duration) of migraine headaches.
- Magnesium helps to relax constricted blood vessels. Some studies have found that many migraine patients are deficient in magnesium, so supplements may help prevent headaches (although study results are inconsistent and more research is needed). In addition, intravenous magnesium helps relieve pain during a migraine headache, especially in people with magnesium deficiencies.
- Coenzyme Q10 improves energy metabolism. A few studies have shown benefits from coenzyme Q10 supplements for people with migraine, but the reason for this is not yet known.
- Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, chemicals that protect nerves and reduce inflammation in the body. A small study has shown that fish oil supplements reduced the frequency and severity of migraine headaches.
- Ginger has been found by some to reduce the frequency and severity of migraine headaches. It is also known to reduce nausea, so it may also be useful during a migraine headache as well.
- Feverfew is an herb that has been found to contain some of the same anti-inflammatory chemicals as aspirin. Limited studies have shown that daily feverfew consumption may reduce the frequency of migraine headaches or the severity of the pain. Pregnant women should not use this herb.
- Butterbur is a plant that may inhibit inflammation in the blood vessels. Limited studies have shown it may be able to reduce headache frequency in migraine sufferers or to reduce the severity of their pain. Pregnant women should not use this herb.
Acupuncture is a technique of traditional Chinese medicine that involves inserting very thin needles into specific points on the body that are thought to control the flow of energy. Studies have shown that acupuncture may be helpful both in reducing the frequency of migraine headaches and in reducing the duration and severity of a headache already in progress.
Chiropractic care involves manipulating the spine and other bones to ensure their proper alignment; misalignment of the spine can cause nerve irritation and inflammation. A few studies have found that proper and safe chiropractic manipulation can reduce both the frequency and intensity of migraine headaches.