I have suffered from migraine headaches for nearly 20 years. Around the age of 18, I started having migraines with aura (which means I get visual disturbances alerting me that a migraine is on deck in T minus 30 minutes. Lucky me).
But I've discovered ways to reduce, and dare I say STOP, my migraines- without meds.
It's been 4 months since I've had a migraine headache. I have been using 2 completely natural, inexpensive methods to treat migraines without pharmaceutical drugs of any kind. They may or may not work for all migraine sufferers but are worth investigating.
Natural Migraine Treatment #1- Daily Preventative Magnesium
In my recent post on safer dietary supplements, I mentioned that several studies have shown magnesium can reduce migraine headache attacks by more than 40%. Migraine sufferers are often magnesium deficient, despite their level of dietary intake (I should know, I eat a ton of magnesium rich foods and still had problems).
Helpful Guidelines for Using Supplemental Magnesium to Improve Migraines:
- The appropriate dosage varies by individual. A physician suggested to me anywhere between 400-800 mg daily. I started with 400 mg (not enough) but really felt an impact at 500 mg. I went up to 700 mg but noticed no significant benefits over the 500 mg daily dosage so I backed it down to 500 mg.
- Magnesium works best as a daily preventative treatment. Don't wait until you have a migraine to get it on board.
- There are several forms of magnesium. Many of the studies on magnesium for migraines were done with magnesium oxide, though magnesium citrate, and magnesium sulfate are also bioavailable forms. Read up on magnesium types here.
- Magnesium isn't for everyone. There are certain conditions or medications that don't mix well with magnesium supplementation, like kidney failure or impairment. Talk to your physician about the best course of action to take before you start.
Natural Migraine Treatment #2- Eliminating Toxins in Home and Personal Care Products
Prior to the end of last year, I had been taking magnesium supplements for 5 years with results I would absolutely call acceptable.
But while magnesium reduced my migraines and made them less intense, they didn't eliminate my attacks altogether. I also started getting "silent migraines," which began with an aura and instead of a headache, resulted in cognitive difficulties and temporary numbness. You can read about silent aura here.
Not super painful, but scary.
However, within a month of switching out my personal care and cleaning products to brands without harsh chemicals, my migraine attacks went to exactly ZERO.
I switched just about everything I could think of- shampoo/conditioner, moisturizers, makeup, laundry detergent, hand soap, deodorant (you can see what safer cleaning and personal care products I'm using here). I tend to follow the European standards on restricted chemicals since I don't find the U.S. guidelines strict enough. Here's a great list of the most common chemical ingredients to avoid when selecting safer products.
How My Migraines Stopped Altogether
While on vacation in December 2016, I ran out of magnesium (so not me to even chance it but it happened). But instead of rushing to the drug store, I wanted to see what would happen if I stopped the magnesium. I wasn't totallyout of my mind- I'd already noticed a sharp decrease in the frequency of auras, as well as the disappearance of silent migraine symptoms (and I guess I wanted to experience the thrill of being a human guinea pig).
So I stopped magnesium. For a month. No migraines.
I stayed off it all winter to see if this was a short lived thing. It's usually one of my worst seasons, given the pressure changes associated with seasonal storms, frequent travel, increased stress, holiday induced indulging, and sleep deprivation. All triggers, right?
While chemically induced headaches are nothing new, it's been suggested that the everyday toxic build up in our systems from products containing even low levels of formaldehyde, parabens, and fragrance can cause migraines. I'm a super skeptic myself, especially when you consider the fact there's very little scientific data on this subject. But since I've seen these methods work for clients and friends, I figure it's worth sharing our stories. And until there's more research done in this area, anecdotal information is important in helping others find relief.
Do you or a loved one experience migraines?
Do you experience migraines? Tell me about your journey. If you're not a migraine sufferer, it's very likely someone you know is- make sure they know about these methods. Migraines can be life altering; it's my hope that by sharing what I have experienced that others might find a way to take life back.
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