Migraine headaches are no joke. If you’ve ever had one of these pounding, unrelenting headaches, you just want to crawl in to a dark space with a pair of earplugs and a cool washcloth – and never come out. Migraine headaches usually last for hours. There are a number of prescription medicines that can combat the pain, along with over-the-counter remedies featuring a potent blend of aspirin, acetaminophen and caffeine.
If you’re looking for natural remedies for these killer headaches, you’ll find two basic approaches: prevention and relief. Ideally, with a natural, healthy diet, you could prevent all of your migraines – but when one sneaks up on you, you will certainly want relief.
Prevention Tips for Migraine Headaches
1. Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is one of the top causes of migraine headaches. Although we all think that we drink enough water, it can be easy to forget a few glasses during the course of a day here and there. Combine a lack of water with the ingestion of a diuretic, like alcohol, and you are setting yourself up for a migraine. The solution? Keep track of how much water you are drinking, so that you don’t accidentally become dehydrated.
2. Exercise. The University of Gothenburg in Sweden has published a study showing that regular exercise is as effective as combating migraines and prescription medications. Stick to a regular exercise program and you’ll relieve stress, which can often trigger migraines. Don’t overdo it though – and make sure that you stay well hydrated before, during, and after your workout.
3. Watch your diet. Many foods may trigger migraines. The only way to know what triggers your migraine headaches is to keep a food journal. Common suspects include dairy items, nitrates, monosodium glutamate, pickled/fermented foods, chocolate, peanut butter, red wine and some fruits.
Migraine Headache Relief
4. Get to a dark, quiet space where you can lie down and not be interrupted. Bright lights and sounds make migraines worse. Leave the TV off, put your phone away and practice deep breathing to help get through the pain.
5. Get an ice pack. Keep an ice pack in your fridge so that you have it ready to go when the pain strikes. Better yet, keep two so that you can switch them out as they become melted and/or warm. No ice? A cold washcloth can help. Re-wet it as needed to keep it cool and soothing.
6. Smell some lavender. Lavender essential oil can relieve all types of headache pain when inhaled (never ingest lavender oil). Put one drop per every one cup of boiling water; take the water away from the heat source and slowly smell the steamy aroma.
7. Sniff some peppermint oil. Peppermint essential oil can help to open and close the blood vessels in your head – and migraines are often the cause of low blood flow. Smell peppermint oil, or slowly sip a cup of peppermint tea.
8. Put a bunch of basil by your bed. Basil is a strong herb best known in Italian food – but it’s also a muscle relaxant. Smell a bunch of fresh basil to help yourself relax during a migraine.
Not helping? Go see a doctor, naturopath or other health professional. Migraines are serious business, and they can indicate hidden medical issues.
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