If you’re among millions around the world who experience migraines, you already know it’s much more than a mere headache. It’s a combination of intense pulsing, throbbing, and intense pain that is sometimes accompanied by auras and flashing lights that can be so debilitating that more than 93 percent of all those who experience them are unable to function or work normally during an episode.
Most of the people who experience migraines use traditional medicines, many of which come with some side effects. These days, many are turning to easy-to-use natural herbal remedies and relaxation therapies. They are happy to see quick and lasting results.
You will find different types of herbal remedies in different cultures worldwide and most of these were developed years before the modern medicine was introduced in the market. Some of these herbal remedies have survived the test of time. They are simple, affordable and show lasting results. Some of them may be slow to act in the beginning, but they do act and help in reducing the migraine symptoms and episodes.
You should always use some caution when trying to use herbal treatments for your migraine. It’s better to discuss your condition with healthcare professional before stopping or beginning any herbal treatment. Usually herbs do not interfere with other medications.
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
It was first used in ancient Greece in fourth century B.C., and is now being widely used to treat different types of diseases. Some of these include swelling, fever, and inflammation. In fact, feverfew was widely used to treat headaches in first and second century.
This plant is native to the Balkan Mountains, but you can now find it worldwide. It was used in many East European cultures to treat insect bites, headaches, and other pain. These days, it is used for treating:
The plant is native to the Balkan Mountains but can now be found nearly worldwide. Eastern European cultures traditionally used feverfew for headaches, insect bites, and other pain. More modern uses have extended to the treatment of:
• Breathing issues
Feverfew is prepared by gently drying flowers, leaves and stems. This potent combination is then used to make extracts and supplements. In some cultures, leaves are eaten raw.
Feverfew can cause minor side effects such as canker sores, bloating and nausea. Some users may also experience moderate side effects when they discontinue use. These many include some joint pain, and sleeplessness.
Butterbur (Petasites hybridus)
Butterbur is found in abundance in marshy areas of North America, Europe and Asia. It is used by people of these areas to cover and preserve butter during warm weather, which is where it got its name. It is widely used to treat:
• General pain
• Gastrointestinal issues
Mostly, purified root extract of butter is used (mostly in extract or pill form) to treat migraines and headaches. According to a research published in 2004, it can be used in migration prevention when taken as 40-65 milligarms daily.
Peppermint (Mentha x balsamea)
A cross of water mint and spearmint, peppermint grows throughout North America, Asia and Europe. Its essential oils and leaves are used in various medications. Besides treating migraines, it is also used for treating:
• Gastrointestinal issues
You can get peppermint oil, and menthol (its active ingredient) in liquid capsule form. Many tea versions are widely popular and are easy to brew. In a 2011 study published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, it was found that menthol can help in stopping acute migraine pain and also eases nausea when it is applied to the temples and forehead in a 12 percent solution.
Research is limited on its clinical efficacy, but use of topical peppermint oil is a nice herbal option to get some relief from migraine pain. Peppermint oil is one of the best herbal remedies to try because of its easy availability in pharmacies and food stores.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is widely grown in many parts of Asia and is being used in Chinese medicine for over 2500 years. It is also popular in Arabic and Indian medicines since ancient times. Mostly, ginger is used a spice and as a popular remedy for:
• Stomach pains
• Stomach pain
• Neurological issues
• Flu and cold symptoms
Ginger has been well documented as antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal. In addition, a 2013 study published in the Journal of Phyteotherpay Research shows that benefits of ginger powder were comparable to sumatriptan, a widely popular migraine prescription, but with lesser side effects. Most people can easily tolerate dried or fresh giner root or its supplements, or extracts. However, it is important not to combine any ginger supplement with blood thinner because of possible drug interactions. Ginger tea and ginger capsule are both easily available in most grocery stores or pharmacies.
Willow (Salix spp.)
Willow bark extract was first used during the development phase of aspirin, a widely popular OTC pain reliever, anti-inflammatory drug and fever reducer. It contains an anti-inflammatory ingredient called salicin. It is also a powerful antioxidant.
Willow tree is found in North American, Asia and Europe. It is being used since the time of Hippocrates when its bark was chewed for its fever-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects. Willow was later used in Europe and China for acute headaches, tendonitis, lower back pain, and osteoarthritis. Willow bark is available as chewable bark and in capsule form at most health food stores.
Caffeine teas are popular in china and were hot favorites during the Ming dynasty. They became popular in Europe in the early 18’th and 19’th centuries. Green tea was widely used in combination with many other helpful herbs for migraine pain control in traditional Chinese medicine. Yerba mate, a lesser known caffeinated tea, first originated in South America. Coffee gained some recognition in Arabia in 19’th century.
People in some cultures consumed caffeine to treat:
• Stomach issues
• Circulatory issues
• Skin damage
• Kidney disease
Caffeine is widely used in many over-the-counter pain relievers available today. It is considered a safe and useful additive in pills for all those who experience migraines. The Journal of Headache and Pain found in 2010 study that a combination of 150 milligrams of caffeine and 1000 milligram of paracetamol is particularly helpful.
Coriander seed (Coriandrum sativum)
For over 6,000 years, people across various cultures have used coriander seed’s seasoning and healing properties. Coriander can easily treat ailments ranging from diabetes to allergies to migraines. In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, it is used to treat headaches and sinus pressure by pouring hot water over fresh seeds and then inhaling the steam.
Past research on these seeds is mainly focused on their ability to treat diabetes, migraine and arthritis. Coriander seeds can be used in teas or foods and can also be chewed. You can also get oral extracts.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Valerian is native to Asia and Europe. It’s now widely available in North American. Its use can be traced back to ancient Rome and Greece from the time of Hippoocrates. It was also recognized as a potent remedy for insomnia few centuries later. It’s recognized as a “all-heal” in early 1600s, as it was used to treat different types of ailments. These included:
• Heart palpitations
It can be taken as a tea, supplement, or tincture made from the dried roots. These days you can also get liquid extract in capsule form. Now it is also used as a treatment of headaches.
Dong quai (Angelica sinensis)
Hailing from same family as parsley, celery, and carrots, dong quai roots has been widely used as a tonic, spice, or medicinal cream for past 1500 years in Chinese, Japanese and Korean medicinal practices. Modern medicine uses it with many other herbs to treat:
• Nerve pain
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary grows in abundance in the Mediterranean region. It has long been used as a medicinal herb and culinary seasoning. It is also used for treating:
• Memory issues
• Joint and muscle pain
• Circulatory issues
• Nervous system issues
• Liver ailments
Rosemary oil should be diluted and applied topically or it can also be inhaled for aormatherapeutic purposes. The leaves of the plant can be easily dried and ground for use in capsules. It can also be used in tinctures, teas, and liquid extracts. Rosemary is believed to have antispasmodic, antimicrobial, and antioxidant effects.
Linden, lime tree (Tilia spp.)
Linden, also known as Tilia or lime tree, is a tree whose blossoms are widely used in different types of medicinal teas in both native American and European cultures. The plant has been used to ease anxiety and calm nerves, inflammatory problems and tension, among other issues. The blossoms can also be used in liquid extracts, tinctures, and capsules.
Linden also possesses sedative and sweat-inducing properties. It has long been used to relive sinus headaches and relieve tension, calm down mind and induce sleep. The flowers have long been used to relieve congestion and lower blood pressure.
Linden tea is sometimes used in modern alternative medicine to treat migraines and headaches. There is currently insufficient research on the real effects of linden tea on different types of migraines to recommend it as a good natural remedy.
Lavender oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
Lavender oil is highly fragrant and is made directly from the flowers of lavender plant. It has long been used I many perfume hygiene products. Lavender is widely grown in mountainous regions of the Mediterranean. It is now widely grown throughout North America, Europe, and Australia.
Lavender oil was extensively used in ancient Egypt by natives during the mummification process. It has good antimicrobial properties and a clean scent. It was later added to baths in Greece, Rome, and Persia. The aromatic lavender oil and flowers are widely used to treat insomnia and headaches to mental health issues such as fatigue and stress. Most of these historical uses remain popular even today.
A 2010 study published in the European Journal of Neurology suggested that inhaling of lavender oil during migraine can help in relieving symptoms more quickly. To use lavender oil, breathe in the oil or you can also apply diluted solution to your temples. Dilution of oil is important as otherwise it may irritate skin at the application site. Keep in mind that lavender oil can be toxic if taken orally at certain doses.
Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)
Horseradish is native to Europe and has been widely used in various medicinal folk remedies in fresh or dried root form or as an oil extract. It has historically been used by natives to treat:
• Kidney disease
• Respiratory issues
• Joint pain
• Muscle strains
Its unique ability to easily narrow blood vessels can help in treating migraines.
Raw potato cuttings
The potato is being widely used in European folk medicine for the past 250 years. Country folk medicine has supported the use of thick potato slices to calm migraine pain. Traditionally, potato slices are wrapped in thin cloth and then wrapped around head or rubbed directly on temples to ease pain and tension.
Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)
Native to Asia, the Japanese honeysuckle reached North American in the 1800s. It is widely used in Chinese medicine to treat:
• Colds and viruses
Along with honeysuckle’s antimicrobial and anti-cancer powers, past research has also identified its anti-inflammatory properties (in flowers, stems and leaves) that can offer some pain relief to that of aspirin. They can be effective against all types of migraine pain.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Yarrow is believed to be named after famous Greek mythical hero Achilles, and is widely used to treat slow blood loss and wounds. Most recent folk remedies have used it to relieve coughs, flus, colds, and diarrhea.
Yarrow is believed to possess anti-anxiety, pain-relieving, and antimicrobial properties. Although more research is necessary, the plant has anti-inflammatory properties that may offer relief to all those who experience migraines.
Since ancient times, people in Asia and Europe have been using mullein extensively for medicinal and other practical purposes, from treating diarrhea to inflammatory conditions, migraines, and spasms. The flowers and leaves can be used for capsules, extracts, dried preparations, and poultices. Tinctures of this plant are widely used in many homeopathic therapies for effective migraine treatment. Mullein also possesses good diuretic properties.
Common hops (Humulus lupulus)
Hops are native to Eastern Europe and some parts of western Asia. They can also be found in many parts of North America. Once used as a food by people in ancient Rome, this flavorful plant also possesses many medicinal properties. Hops have been historically used to treat:
• Sleep issues
Modern medicine acknowledges the sedative effects of hops, and their positive impact on migraine pain.
Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens)
Teaberry, more famous as wintergreen, is mostly found in eastern North America. It’s a edible plant, made famous by Teaberry gum, has a prominent place in folk medicine for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It can be used to make tinctures, teas, and oil extracts.
Teaberry has also been used historically as a stimulant and astringent to fight acute fatigue. It is important for all those who get migraines is teaberry’s unique potential to treat headaches and neuralgias as well as vomiting and acute stomach pain. You can easily brew teaberry in some hot water for about five minutes and then drink this mixture to experience its healing effects.
Evodia (Evodia rutaecarpa)
It’s a deciduous tree native to china and has been widely used in Chinese medicine since the second century AD. It has been traditionally used to treat headaches, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. The fruits of this tree can also reduce blood pressure.
The pain reducing and anti-inflammatory properties of the fruit can help ease your migraine pain.
Betony (Stachys officinalis)
This perennial herb is found in all parts of Europe and Asia. It’s been widely used as a medicinal plant since ages. Betony has been traditionally used to relieve headaches and pain and facial swelling. Its leaves can be used as a poultice, juice, or ointment.
Its mildly sedative properties can be used to treat migraine pain and headaches, tension, stress, and menstrual cramps. It can also help alleviate sinus congestion and headaches when used in combination with comfrey and lime flowers.
Its not always easy to find it in health food stores, so you may have to either buy it online or grow some in your lawn.
In addition to various herbal treatments available today, significant research shows that your diet can also play a big role in migraine intensity, frequency, and duration. Potential preventive treatments and measures for migraines include:
• Limiting or eliminating foods that show IgG antibody production
• Low fat diets
• Eating consistently to reduce low blood sugar
• Improving your gut flora content
Consider tracking your symptoms, triggers, pain duration and intensity, and other related factors in a migraine app or migraine journal. Whether you choose natural remedies, pharmaceutical treatments, or a combination, it’s best to have a record of your experiences because it will help you and your doctor to narrow down the best possible treatment options.