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Treat migraines naturally
The crippling pain of migraines, which is characterized by massive, often one-sided headaches, often hits migraineurs so hard that they can hardly cope with everyday life. The symptoms appearing in attacks often appear together with nausea, sensitivity to light and noise. For many sufferers, the pain can only be tolerated to some extent in bed, in a darkened and cool room.
The treatment of the extremely unpleasant illness is not easy since many triggers are associated with its occurrence. This article shows which home remedies can help naturopathy for migraines to alleviate the pain or, in the best case, not to cause it at all. Not every measure helps everyone, but it is worth trying it out. Many sufferers report significant improvements when they have found the right home remedy for themselves.
What helps quickly against a migraine attack? A brief overview
If you notice a migraine attack, you should withdraw immediately. If there is strong sensitivity to light, the room can be darkened with curtains or blinds. If this is not possible, sunglasses or a sleep mask can help. In the event of an acute attack, cooling the forehead with a cold washcloth or a layer of healing earth paste can relieve pain. Alternating showers and a cold arm bath can also help relieve acute pain. Treading water, in which the person concerned slowly walks through a bathtub or a stream filled with cool tap water and raises his leg above the water surface with every step, can also remedy minor attacks.
A cool pack wrapped in a cloth, placed on the neck or forehead as a pad, can provide pain relief for some sufferers. Espresso with fresh lemon juice is also a proven home remedy for migraine attacks, as well as half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper mixed in a glass with warm water. Eating and the smell of green apples at the first sign of a migraine also helps some sufferers.
How can you prevent a migraine attack? A brief overview
Basically, migraineurs should drink a lot. In addition to water, red bush tea and white willow tea as well as infusions with willow bark and butterbur are also suitable. Ginger and vanilla extract mixed with liquid can also help relieve pain. Ginger can also be chewed as a piece. Aromatherapy can have a positive effect on the vegetative nervous system with the help of essential oils and have a calming, relaxing and refreshing effect. Healing earth, taken over a long period of time, can help detoxify the body.
Longer times on monitors should reduce people at risk if possible or interrupt them with breaks. A daily routine can help prevent stress and migraine attacks. By documenting all the circumstances in the event of a seizure, the triggers can be better identified. Yoga, massages and relaxation techniques also help reduce stress, which can reduce the number of seizures. Magnesium from bananas, whole grains, soy, legumes, nuts, dairy products and seeds have a preventive effect for some migraines.
When it comes to home remedies, the right time is important
A migraine should definitely be diagnosed by a doctor to differentiate it from other forms of headache or illness. There are some home remedies for the disease - but these must be used at the right time to have an effect. The best way to take them is when the person affected notices that an attack is in the offing but does not feel any pain yet. If this point is exceeded, on the other hand, only the right pain reliever in the right dosage usually helps. Accompanying home remedies for headaches can bring some relief at any time.
Important: Always drink enough liquid
It is particularly important for migraines to always drink enough. This applies not only when headaches are approaching, but generally so that no waste products can accumulate in the body at all.
In addition to water, we recommend the red bush tea, because this, enriched with cloves and drunk in sips, can relieve headaches. Tea is even more suitable as a preventive measure if the first signs indicate that an attack is in the offing. Other healing teas that can help with migraines are infusions with willow bark and butterbur. It should also be drunk if there is no pain yet, but there is a premonition that the next attack is on the way.
Warning: alcohol should be consumed with caution by migraineurs, as alcoholic beverages can trigger seizures. This is often related to the amount, the type of drink and the time of day of consumption. Where a beer doesn't cause problems in the evening, a glass of wine at noon can be devastating, or vice versa. Migraines should monitor their alcohol consumption and any associated migraine attacks, drink plenty of water with alcoholic beverages and, if in doubt, avoid them altogether.
Natural help through water applications and healing earth
Healing earth is known to be used for diarrhea. The healthy earth binds toxins and enables excretion in a completely natural way. With a migraine predisposition, this is an easy way to get toxins out of the body. For this purpose, the healing earth is taken in over a longer period of time. If you don't like the sandy taste, you can easily get capsules.
As long as the pain is minor and the affected person is still vertical, alternating showers, kicking water and dew (or snow) and / or a cold arm bath are helpful in the area of hydrotherapy. If the attack could not be prevented, cool pads with healing earth paste (mixed with a few drops of peppermint essential oil) alleviate the pain.
If none of the two are available in the household, then pads soaked in cold water or a cool pack help, the latter should never be applied directly to the skin. The cooling source is wrapped in a cloth and placed on the neck or forehead. A hand bath in ice water can also have a good effect. Simply fill a bowl or a sink with ice-cold water and, in the best case, add a few ice cubes. Now put your hands in the water and alternately clench your fists and relax again. The hands should only remain in the water for as long as it can be endured. Cold therapy should not last longer than fifteen minutes, but can be repeated several times after a break of twenty minutes.
In alternative medicine, aromatherapy is often recommended for occasional migraine attacks. Here certain fragrance essences are used, which have a positive effect on the vegetative nervous system and can therefore have a calming, relaxing and refreshing effect. Peppermint oil, which is applied locally to the painful areas of the forehead and temples, has proven particularly effective for relieving headaches. This stimulates the cold and pressure receptors, has a relaxing effect on the smooth muscles and promotes blood circulation. Other suitable essential oils that can relieve headaches and nausea include oils from lavender, marjoram, eucalyptus, chamomile and rosemary.
Danger: If you want to naturally treat the headache with peppermint oil, you should never give pure essential oil directly to the skin in its pure form, as it can quickly cause skin irritation. In the pharmacy, drugstore, etc. there are various ready-mixed products that are effective and safe to use. Alternatively, a ten percent peppermint solution can be made yourself with little effort.Make your own peppermint oil:
- Mix 20 drops of peppermint with 10 ml of carrier oil (jojoba, almond, olive oil or similar)
- Apply the mixture to the forehead and temples and massage in gently using circular movements
- If necessary, repeat the application after 15 minutes
Vanilla and ginger relieve headaches
Vanilla extract is known as a natural home remedy for headaches and is therefore worth trying for migraines. A teaspoon of pure extract is mixed with about two hundred milliliters of water or tea and drunk in sips. The effects of vanilla have not been researched, but those affected repeatedly report positive effects.
The miracle bulb ginger helps against diseases and has proven itself among other things as a home remedy for nausea and colds. It can help with headaches or even prevent them if taken in time. For this, one centimeter of the peeled root is crushed on a vegetable grater and drunk mixed with a fruit juice. If you like the fire of the ginger, you can also chew the piece.
Nature's aspirin: white willow tea
A well-known home remedy from the field of herbal medicine is a tea with white willow. This is one of the proven painkillers and anti-inflammatory agents and is considered a "natural aspirin". The bark of the white willow is used to treat the symptoms, which is peeled off the branches in spring for this purpose.Recipe for an anti-migraine tea with white willow:
- Mix 1 tsp bark (from the pharmacy) with a quarter liter of cold water
- Bring the whole thing to a boil
- Take the pot off the stove and let the tea steep for 5 minutes
- Strain the bark and drink 2 to 4 cups of it a day
Behaviors that can reduce or prevent migraines
Different behaviors can have positive or negative effects on a migraine. But the same factors do not play an equally important role in every migraine sufferer. The following behaviors can help reduce the number of seizures or better identify the triggers.
Reduce the time spent on monitors, televisions and smartphones
That is easier said than done, because screens are almost everywhere and some people look at the monitor for a long time due to work alone. This is very tiring for the eyes and brain and can promote migraines. Regular breaks and deliberate abstinence can help to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. If this is not possible, you should let your gaze wander every 30 to 45 minutes, for example looking out of the window or closing your eyes for a short period of time.
Keep a migraine diary
According to the motto: "Know your enemy", a diary about the disease can help you find out how and when a person has seizures. Because the triggers in a person are often similar or the same. All circumstances should be noted in the diary if an attack occurred. This includes the duration, quality and length of sleep, the food, drinks and sweets supplied. Stress and physical stress such as sports, alcohol consumption, the type of complaint and any medication taken.
Women should also document their menstrual cycle. The weather should also be recorded in writing, as bad weather can give people a headache. The knowledge gained can help to live better with the disease and prevent seizures, or to identify and counteract seizures.
Routine in everyday life
A consistent daily routine can help protect against seizures. Changing times when you sleep and get up can cause stress in the body and promote migraines. Meal times should also take place at approximately the same time each day. This applies to working days as well as for the weekend or for vacation. These times should not be changed abruptly, but at a leisurely pace.
Yoga, massages and relaxation techniques
Yoga training two or three times a week can relieve tension and also relax mentally. The training can be particularly helpful for people who sit a lot or have to perform one-sided actions at work. Because tension can favor migraines or lead to other headaches. Massages can also reduce stress and relieve tension. In addition to professional providers, a self-massage of the temples can help. To do this, slide your fingertips over your temples with circular movements and light pressure. Various methods of reducing stress, such as breathing meditation, autogenic training and progressive muscle relaxation, have also proven themselves in some migraines.
Food and beverages can also have a positive and negative impact on the course of the disease. Many sufferers have no appetite for pain, and hypoglycaemia may occur, which aggravates the headache. Small amounts of easily digestible foods can help to prevent hypoglycaemia and also counteract nausea. Vegetable soups, dried fruit, soft-boiled potatoes, rice, rice waffles, whole grain bread, natural yoghurt and papaya are suitable for this. According to doctors, migraine sufferers should consume carbohydrates regularly to reduce their symptoms.
Espresso for pain relief
A well-tried home remedy for migraine attacks is coffee with lemon, preferably espresso. Caffeine has a stimulating effect that can relieve pain. This effect can be enhanced by adding a little fresh lemon juice. No sugar should be added to the drink. However, the effect may be weakened in people who drink a lot of coffee, as the body gets used to the caffeine over time.
Chilli and cayenne pepper
Cayenne peppers and chillies act like a natural pain reliever, boost blood circulation and dilate the vessels in the brain and are therefore also suitable for some people as a home remedy for migraines. The hard-boiled among the migraineurs can simply eat pure chilli. Alternatively, half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper can be mixed in a glass of warm water and drunk in small sips. The drink can optionally be flavored with fresh lemon juice and honey.
Apples and apple cider vinegar
Some migraineurs have a positive effect. At the first sign of an attack, eating an apple may reduce the course. The scent of green apples is also suitable as aromatherapy. Apple cider vinegar has also proven itself as a general home remedy for headaches. One to two tablespoons daily pure or mixed in a glass with water can have a preventive effect.
Causes of migraines
To date, doctors and scientists are not sure what the actual causes of the disease are. This type of headache probably existed long before Christ. At the time, it seemed more like something scary scary. So it was blamed on ghosts who had literally settled inside the brain. As therapy, prayers, offerings and, in the worst case, measures such as piercing the skull were used to get rid of the evil spirits.
It was only around 600 BC that it became clear that headaches are not necessarily something mystical, but have real causes. For example, around 400 BC, the well-known Greek doctor Hippocrates advocated the theory that migraines arise from toxic substances in the liver. He treated this with leeches.
Later, in the seventeenth century, the British doctor Thomas Willis came to the conclusion that the causes of migraines are circulatory disorders. Edward Liveings also advocates the same theory in his book, published in 1873, but later published a second cause, namely migraines due to so-called “nerve thunderstorms”.
Researchers have found that the cause of this particular type of headache is a combination of several factors. The predisposition to migraines can be inherited. Those affected perceive stimuli more intensely. Accordingly, there are various triggers that initiate such an attack. As a result, the nerve cells produce a huge amount of messenger substances, with the neurotransmitter serotonin in particular at the center, which constricts the blood vessels. The body then tries to get rid of this excess of messenger substances, which means that too little serotonin is available relatively suddenly. The vessels then become wide and permeable to tissue-hostile substances, which - triggered by the release of protein substances on the vessels - cause small inflammations.
Due to the inflammation, the sensitivity to pain is increasing and there is the throbbing pressure pain that those affected feel. The body works fully against inflammation, which can sometimes take up to three days. When the pain is gone, relaxation finally occurs.
Accordingly, migraine is a neurobiologically-related dysfunction of the brain, in which the meninges and all blood vessels involved react. Added to this is the hereditary disposition. An attack means a malfunction of the pain regulation system in the migraine center, which is located in the brain stem. There is also talk of overactivity of the nerve cells in the brain stem.
Trigger for a migraine attack
Internal and external factors in connection with the disposition are able to trigger an attack. Home remedies can help if those affected know the right time, that is, if they feel exactly when a seizure is on the way.
Triggers for the unbearable headache can be a disturbed rhythm of sleeping and waking, an uncontrolled daily routine, overstimulation, hypoglycaemia due to food deprivation, hormonal disorders and stress. There are also external stimuli such as light, noise and smells. Strong emotions such as grief, joy or fear can also trigger an attack. Foods such as chocolate, cheese, hard sausage, deep-fried food, red wine and animal products in general are among the potential triggers, although this can vary greatly from person to person.
Age and gender also play a role in who is exposed to an increased risk of migraine. Statistically, women are more likely to experience migraines than men. In many people, the disease already occurs during puberty and reaches its zenith between the ages of 30 and 40. The severity and frequency of seizures often decrease from this point on.
Other possible trigger factors are an onset of weather change and the weather phenomenon of foehn, as well as certain medications that contain nitro compounds. Women have been found to have cycle-related migraines. This is related to the messenger serotonin, the level of which drops shortly before the onset of the period.
The typical heralds of an attack are:
The four phases of the migraine attack
An attack consists of four phases, namely the pre-phase (prodrome), aura phase, headache phase and regression phase (postdrome).
Around thirty percent of migraine sufferers suffer from the preliminary phase, also called the prodrome. This announces the attack by various symptoms days to hours beforehand. This includes hypersensitivity of the senses, mood instability, fatigue or increased activity, loss of appetite or cravings for sweets, massive yawning, sensitivity to light and taste, a stiff neck and tense shoulders, constipation or even a frequent urge to urinate.
After the preliminary phase, between ten and fifteen percent of the patients have a so-called aura phase, which lasts about an hour and then passes into the actual attack of pain. Aura symptoms are neurological in the form of fibrillation of the eyes, seeing lightning, loss of visual field and sensory disturbances, such as numbness or tingling in the limbs. This phase lasts between 20 and 60 minutes for most migraineurs.
After the aura, the headache phase begins, which can also begin without notice. Some patients initially experience pain in the neck, which then concentrates more and more on one side of the head, while in others the pain is initially unilateral. Every movement exacerbates the pain, so that those affected seek a quiet location in a darkened room, free of noise and smells. The pulsating pain is accompanied by anorexia, fear of light, sensitivity to noise, nausea and vomiting.
Then the regression phase, also called Postdrome, begins. The pain decreases more and more. The patients are tired and need a lot of sleep. A flood of urine often sets in after the symptoms have subsided. This is a natural excretion function of the body to release what has accumulated during the attack. During this phase, people may experience mood swings, sensitivity to light and noise, confusion, and dizziness and lightheadedness.
A migraine attack lasts between four hours and three days. These can repeat themselves regularly, unfortunately also at shorter intervals, or fail to appear for months and even longer.
Abdominal migraine in children
A special type of this disease is the children's migraine belly. Here the headache is projected into the abdomen, causing diffuse abdominal pain in connection with loss of appetite, nausea and paleness of the face. This pain is very difficult to attribute to the disease. However, it is often the case that the children affected later develop a "normal" migraine.
Prevention: Effectively prevent migraines
Migraineurs should definitely do prevention. This includes regular detox days or weeks. Under no circumstances should food be dispensed with here. This could trigger an attack. However, it is important to have a healthy diet, which is also continued after detoxification. This includes a lot of fresh fruit, also in the form of self-made fruit juices. Individual or several consecutive days, on which only fruit is consumed from morning to noon, boost excretion. Vegetables are generally not eaten raw, but always blanched or lightly steamed. In the evening after 6 p.m., raw food should no longer be consumed, so that the intestine and liver are relieved. Animal and sugar are generally drastically reduced.
As a detox tea, a mixture of nettle and dandelion is recommended, which is drunk three times a day over a period of four to six weeks. This tea can also be well fortified with butterbur, which is known to minimize migraine attacks. Detoxification is also supported by regular alternating showers, brush massages and saunas.
Alcohol and nicotine should be avoided or at least reduced significantly. It is advisable to limit coffee consumption. Daily exercise in the fresh air is also one of the possible preventive measures. Those who have never done any sport before should start with walks, the intensity of which will gradually increase over time. Regular exercise is important for everyone, but migraine sufferers in particular should make sure they have enough physical activity. In return, relaxation and rest are necessary to reduce stress and tension. Relaxation techniques for stress relief such as meditation, autogenic training or yoga help.
Scientists have found that there is usually too little magnesium in the blood of migraine sufferers. This deficiency could also trigger an attack. Food with a share of the essential mineral, such as whole grains, bananas, dairy products and soy, have a preventive effect. If this is not enough, it may be necessary to think of a suitable dietary supplement to compensate for the magnesium deficiency.
How other people can help those affected
In the case of a poorly understood illness such as migraines, understanding others can be very helpful for those affected. However, well-intentioned advice can increase the suffering of those affected. However, some behaviors can actually support migraineurs. This includes, for example, keeping calm and giving those affected the time they need to recover from a seizure. Patients should not be motivated to make additional efforts shortly before, during or shortly after an attack. Instead, a migraine sufferer should be motivated to go to a pain consultation with a specialist in the case of frequently occurring seizures.
For colleagues, friends, relatives or employers, the diffuse causes and the sudden occurrence can also be felt as a burden. Nevertheless, sentences such as: "Pull yourself together" or "It can't be that bad" should be avoided, since they can trigger additional pressure and stress in those affected and the situation is only made worse. Such behavior is understandable, but counterproductive. Instead, understanding the difficult situation can help.
Migraine is a condition in which massive headaches occur like a fit. It is inheritable and is usually caused by certain, individual triggers. A regular daily routine, enough sleep, regular exercise, relaxation exercises and a healthy balanced diet with lots of basic foods are the cornerstones to get the disease under control. Most of the time, patients suffer so much that they have to take high-dose pain relievers. However, these are usually not without side effects, especially when used continuously. Home remedies for migraines are free of side effects and, if used in good time, can certainly bring help. (sw, nr, vb)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
- What is migraine? Neurologists and psychiatrists on the net The information portal on mental health and nervous disorders, doctors on the net GmbH
- Guideline of the German Society for Neurology (DGN) in cooperation with the German Migraine and Headache Society (DMKG), DGN
- Diseases and Conditions: Migraine, Mayo Clinic, (access: August 10, 2019), Mayo Clinic
- David W Dodick: Migraine, The Lancet Journal, Volume 391, ISSUE 10127, P1315-1330, March 31, 2018, The Lancet
- Anja Schemionek, Katharina Hinze: Herbs for Headaches: The Little Herb Row, Aurum, (April 22, 2019)