13 Holistic Treatments for Migraine (2023)

Alternative treatments for migraine headaches can help you reduce symptoms, with or without medication.

Prescription medication is a common treatment method for people who live with severe migraine headaches. But there are alternative options available.

You may also find relief through natural remedies. Many of these alternative treatments can be used to prevent migraine episodes or reduce headache symptoms.

Do you experience occasional or frequent migraine headaches? And are you looking for a holistic way to treat them? Here are 13 treatment options to consider using to treat or prevent your next migraine episode.

Before trying any of these natural migraine remedies, you may want to speak with a medical professional. They’ll help you determine any potential risks and help you determine which ones may be most effective for you.

Acupuncture is an ancient form of alternative medicine in which thin needles are administered into specific body parts. And evidence suggests it can relieve migraine symptoms.

“For migraine, an acupuncturist will typically arrange the needles based on various pressure points on the head. This specific placement may help to alleviate [the] pressure that causes migraine tension and pulsations,” says founder of KaraMD Dr. M. Kara.

Nurse practitioner and migraine health coach Courtney Beck FNP-C adds that it also helps to activate your body’s natural healing and anti-inflammatory responses by releasing pain-reducing endorphins.

“There are about 10 essential oils that can be used daily to prevent migraine attacks by decreasing inflammation, stress, and increasing happy hormones,” says Beck. She notes that some can also decrease migraine intensity and length when used during an attack.

Some essential oils for migraine prevention and relief include:

  • peppermint
  • rosemary
  • lavender
  • chamomile

“These oils can target migraine [symptoms] because they help to reduce inflammation and relax the muscles, both of which are important factors for pain relief,” adds Kara.

Although studies suggest that aromatherapy can heal migraine symptoms, Dr. Jacob Hascalovici, Chief Medical Officer and co-founder of telehealth app Clearing, created for people living with chronic pain, warns of concerns about essential oils instigating migraine and potential toxicity with improper use.

Essential oils aren’t to be consumed and should be used as aromatherapy, or you can mix them with a carrier oil before applying it to your skin or adding it to the bath.

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While research suggests there are health benefits, the FDA doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with a healthcare professional before you begin using essential oils and be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.

Taking an over-the-counter magnesium supplement can help to restore low levels to relieve migraine tension and ward off future headaches. Beck notes that magnesium threonate, glyconate, or malate are the best options for migraine relief.

You may also consider eating foods high in magnesium such as nuts (especially almonds), seeds, and green leafy vegetables.

“Magnesium is an essential nutrient found in the body, but low levels can cause nausea, fatigue, and muscle contractions that might lead to the onset of migraine [attacks],” explains Kara.

Hascalovici notes that 2017 research indicates that magnesium is possibly effective for treating migraine attacks with minimal risk. He warns that diarrhea is a frequently reported side effect of magnesium use, though.

Butterbur is an herb made from the leaves of a shrub. Beck explains that butterbur has anti-inflammatory and vessel dilation properties. “This helps with blood flow, increasing oxygenation, and relaxing muscles, which is known to help with decreasing pain.”

Beware: Using butterbur can lead to hepatotoxicity (liver damage). Other side effects may include diarrhea, stomach upset, and allergic reaction.

As a safety precaution, a 2019 study recommends avoiding butterbur with pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA).

Herbs aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the same way as medications are, so there might be concerns that the product you’re using doesn’t meet standards for lack of contamination or quality of the product.

As time goes on, more research suggests that cannabis offers several potential healing benefits, including migraine relief. A 2016 study indicates that migraine frequency is decreased with medical cannabis treatment.

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“Cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinoids Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabis are all linked with favorable outcomes when it comes to migraine and headache treatments,” adds Hascalovici.

While there are a number of similarities between the two types of cannabinoids there are also many differences. CBD is nonintoxicating compared to THC, which is intoxicating, giving you a high sensation.

Hascalovici notes that the benefits aren’t always consistent due to variability with strains, product quality control, and regulation. Benefits may also differ due to the form of cannabinoid you choose.

It’s important to note that cannabis is illegal in some states, and you’ll test positive for THC if you use it. If you have concerns about drug testing, consider choosing a CBD isolate, which legally contains up to 0.3% THC

“[A] migraine can interfere with sleep, and poor sleep can lead to migraine, as the body is unable to go through its normal ‘rest and refresh’ processes without adequate sleep,” says Kara. “Melatonin is a well-known natural sleep aid that can help promote restful and quality sleep, which in turn can help with migraine.”

Beck adds that melatonin also has neurological benefits like a prostaglandin inhibiting effect, which may help to decrease pain.

A study from 2019, which consisted of 100 participants, suggests that diamine oxidase (DAO) supplementation may significantly reduce migraine attacks.

DAO is used to reduce symptoms to help those with a high level of histamine in their body which may trigger migraine attacks, also known as histamine intolerance.

Another 2019 study, also states that oral supplementation of DAO before meals can improve histamine intolerance symptoms due to its ability to degrade ingested intestinal histamine.

“Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), are often used in combination with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and antiemetics in acute settings to treat migraine,” adds Hascalovici.

8. Ginkgolide B

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Ginkgolide B comes from the Ginkgo biloba plant, which has strong antioxidant properties.

Kara says this is important for migraine headaches, as “oxidative stress and free radical damage may be a factor that causes the onset of migraine [episodes]. The antioxidant value of this herb can help combat that stress in the body.”

Like other botanicals, Hascalovici notes that quality control, consistency, breeding, and regulation are important factors to consider for clinical use.

Everybody is different, so everyone will have their own unique migraine triggers. Identifying and avoiding yours — whatever they may be — can help to prevent their onset.

“Certain food and drink triggers, like processed food items or caffeine, can cause migraine [attacks] by causing inflammation, dehydration, and issues with circulation,” says Kara.

Hascalovici says that lesser-known triggers can include:

  • too much sleep
  • weather changes
  • menstruation
  • intense exercise
  • chewing gum
  • skipping meals
  • perfume or fragrances

Beck says that finding your personal migraine triggers can be challenging, but it’s an important step toward symptom relief. “Elimination diets along with lab testing can be very beneficial to figuring out what your body doesn’t like along with what you could be deficient in,” she says.

Hascalovici recommends keeping a headache journal as well to help you manage and keep track of your migraine episodes.

“Similar to acupuncture, trained massage therapists can target pressure points and nerve areas on the head to relieve migraine pressure,” says Kara. “Massages can help circulate blood flow which is also important for migraine treatment.”

Beck says other health benefits of massages and massage therapy may include:

  • lymphatic drainage
  • tension relief
  • lower stress hormones

11. Hydration

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“Drinking the proper amount of water each day is essential for many areas of our health as it keeps the organs and systems in the body functioning properly,” says Kara. “Dehydration can often lead to fatigue, nausea, and headaches or migraine [attacks] which is why proper hydration is so important.”

Try to drink water throughout the day to prevent migraine onset. According to Hascalovici, hydration practices, including fluid administration via IV, may be used clinically to alleviate dehydration-related migraine.

As mentioned earlier, migraine attacks and sleep have a complicated relationship. But getting better quality sleep could help to prevent and manage headaches.

“Natural sleep aids as well as lifestyle changes, like limited electronic use and breathing exercises, can help promote restful sleep and lead to a variety of health benefits,” says Kara.

Managing your stress plays an important role in migraine prevention and treatment.

“Excess stress can lead to increased inflammation and poor hormone production, both of which can be factors in causing migraine attacks,” says Kara.

“Since stress management impacts multiple migraine development triggers or pathways, it can be a powerful element of an overall migraine management approach,” adds Hascalovici.

Medication can help treat or reduce migraine symptoms, but it’s not the only option. Alternative migraine relief and holistic migraine prevention are possible with herbal meds and natural remedies like:

  • acupuncture
  • essential oils
  • magnesium
  • butterbur
  • cannabis
  • melatonin
  • diamine oxidase (DAO)
  • Ginkgolide B
  • avoiding food triggers
  • massage therapy
  • hydration
  • improving sleep
  • managing stress

If your migraine symptoms don’t ease up with holistic remedies, consider speaking with a therapist or medical professional to figure out the best treatment plan for you.


What relieves migraines instantly? ›

Find a calm environment
  • Turn off the lights. Light and sound can make migraine pain worse. Relax in a dark, quiet room. ...
  • Try temperature therapy. Apply hot or cold compresses to your head or neck. ...
  • Sip a caffeinated drink. In small amounts, caffeine alone can relieve migraine pain in the early stages.

What Herb gets rid of migraines? ›

Feverfew May Prevent and Treat Migraine Pain

The herb known as feverfew became popular as a migraine remedy in the 1980s, when a landmark British study showed that more than 70 percent of participants had less migraine pain after taking feverfew daily.

What natural product helps migraines? ›

Magnesium, riboflavin (vitamin B2), and coenzyme Q10 may all help reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. Magnesium is a mineral involved in many different processes in the body. It may help prevent migraine aura, decrease pain, and prevent blood vessels from narrowing.

Does magnesium help migraines? ›

Research on magnesium has found it to be a potentially well-tolerated, safe and inexpensive option for migraine prevention, while it may also be effective as an acute treatment option for headaches including migraines, tension- type headaches and cluster headaches, particularly in certain patient subsets.

What is the fastest way to cure a migraine without medication? ›

Tips to Get Rid of a Headache
  1. Try a Cold Pack.
  2. Use a Heating Pad or Hot Compress.
  3. Ease Pressure on Your Scalp or Head.
  4. Dim the Lights.
  5. Try Not to Chew.
  6. Hydrate.
  7. Get Some Caffeine.
  8. Practice Relaxation.

How do you get rid of a migraine in 10 seconds? ›

The union valley (LI4) points are located on the web between your thumb and index finger. To treat headaches: Start by pinching this area with the thumb and index finger of your opposite hand firmly — but not painfully — for 10 seconds.

What foods to avoid if you have migraines? ›

10 Migraine-Triggering Foods
  • Excessive coffee. ...
  • Red wine. ...
  • Aged cheeses. ...
  • Chocolate. ...
  • Citrus fruits. ...
  • Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners. ...
  • Yeast. ...
  • Monosodium glutamate (a.k.a. MSG)

What fruit gets rid of migraines? ›

Reach for a banana rather than highly processed foods like granola bars or candy, suggests Brown. “Bananas are a great food for quick energy recovery, and they're high in magnesium, which can be helpful when people have headaches,” she says.

What vitamin deficiency can cause migraines? ›

Vitamin B2 Deficiency

The B vitamins help to protect from headaches, according to the National Headache Foundation, but it is B2 (riboflavin) that really stands out and where a deficiency may lead to headaches.

Is there a vitamin for migraines? ›

Magnesium. Research on the use of magnesium supplements to prevent or reduce symptoms of migraine headaches is limited. There is some evidence that magnesium supplementation may provide modest reductions in the frequency of migraines.

Does apple cider vinegar stop migraines? ›

Takeaway. There's no definitive scientific evidence that apple cider vinegar can help treat headaches or migraines. But the positive health effects it has on other parts of the body could help reduce or prevent headache symptoms.

Why does Coke help with migraines? ›

Caffeine has vasoconstrictive properties, meaning that blood vessels narrow to restrict blood flow, thereby alleviating the pain.

Where do you massage for migraines? ›

There are many pressure points on the body that, when massaged, can ease migraine symptoms.
  1. Hand: Union Valley.
  2. Face: Third Eye and Drilling Bamboo.
  3. Ear: Ear Gate, Daith, and Ear Apex.
  4. Neck and Shoulders: Gates of Consciousness and Shoulder Well.
  5. Foot: Great Rushing, Above Tears, and Moving Point.
14 Mar 2022

What is the best form of magnesium for migraines? ›

Magnesium oxide is frequently used in pill form to prevent migraine, usually at a dose of 400-600 mg per day. Acutely, it can be dosed in pill form at the same dosage or given intravenously as magnesium sulfate at 1-2 gm.

How much magnesium should I take per day for migraines? ›

The American Migraine Foundation suggest taking a 400–500 milligram (mg) supplement of magnesium oxide daily to prevent migraines. Some researchers think that magnesium's effectiveness as a preventive against migraines increases when a person takes higher doses — over 600 (mg) — for at least 3 to 4 months.

How quickly does magnesium work for migraines? ›

If you and your doctor agree that magnesium might be worth a try for preventing migraines, be patient. It could take 3 or 4 months before you notice any benefit.

How do you get rid of a migraine in 30 minutes? ›

Cold compress

A study in Hawai'i Journal of Medicine & Public Health found that applying ice packs to the neck for 30 minutes significantly reduced pain in people with migraines.

How do you get rid of a migraine in 3 days? ›

Self-massage or massage therapy may help ease the tension that causes ongoing headaches. You may also benefit from reducing stimuli and resting in a dark, quiet room. Your doctor can help you address your stress, anxiety, or mood disorder through a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and medication.

Where is the pressure point for headaches? ›

Pressure point LI-4 is also called Hegu (her-goo). It is found on the back of your hand. It is between the base of your thumb and index (pointer) finger (see Figure 1). Doing acupressure on this point can help with pain and headaches.

Is there a way to get rid of migraines forever? ›

How to get rid of migraines. As of now, there is no cure for migraines—but there are many strategies to reduce their frequency and severity. “One of the best ways of identifying triggers is keeping a headache diary."

How do I deal with a migraine everyday? ›

  1. Antidepressants. Tricyclic antidepressants — such as nortriptyline (Pamelor) — can be used to treat chronic headaches. ...
  2. Beta blockers. These drugs, commonly used to treat high blood pressure, are also a mainstay for preventing episodic migraines. ...
  3. Anti-seizure medications. ...
  4. NSAIDs. ...
  5. Botulinum toxin.
9 Apr 2019

What foods cure a migraine? ›

Foods rich in magnesium include dark leafy greens, avocado, and tuna. Omega-3 fatty acids. Research indicates that increasing omega-3 fatty acids may help people with migraine. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include fish such as mackerel and salmon, and seeds and legumes.

What foods help heal migraines? ›

Discover 11 foods that can help migraines go away
  • Spinach could help migraines go away. This dark leafy green vegetable is particularly rich in magnesium. ...
  • Kale might help migraineurs. ...
  • Collard, mustard, and turnip greens. ...
  • Almonds. ...
  • Avocados. ...
  • Dark Chocolate. ...
  • Fatty fish. ...
  • Flax seeds.

What can aggravate a migraine? ›

alcohol. caffeine products, such as tea and coffee. specific foods, such as chocolate and citrus fruit. foods containing the substance tyramine, which include cured meats, yeast extracts, pickled herrings, smoked fish (like smoked salmon), and certain cheeses (such as cheddar, stilton and camembert)

What soup is good for migraines? ›

Chicken and Brown Rice Soup

This hearty soup will bring back childhood memories of canned chicken soup, but without all the chemicals and preservatives that are bad for you in general, and even worse when you have migraine. Plus, it's gluten- and dairy-free.

Why do apples help migraines? ›

Cut allergies

Quercetin, a plant component that gives fruit its color, often acts like an antihistamine and anti-inflammatory, according to the University of Maryland. Quercetin is found in onions, grapes, dark cherries and, you guessed it, apples.

Can B12 stop migraines? ›

The study revealed migraine patients who were given 2 mg of folic acid in conjunction with vitamins B12 and B6 achieved greater success in reducing their migraine symptoms than patients who received 1 mg of folic acid in combination with vitamins B12 and B6.

Can low B12 cause migraines? ›

Conclusion: We conclude that lower vitamin B12 levels than 400 pg/mL may be associated with tension- type headache, migraine, and unclassified headache.

Can low iron levels cause migraines? ›

Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) can cause the brain to receive less oxygen than it needs to function optimally, leading to basic headaches. IDA has also been associated with migraine, especially in women who are menstruating.

Can vitamin D Reduce migraines? ›

“[Vitamin D supplementation] may be beneficial in selected patients to reduce the frequency of headache, mainly in migraineurs, especially in those with vitamin D deficiency,” authors said.

Does zinc help with migraines? ›

Results. Compared with the placebo, zinc supplementation resulted in a significant reduction in headache severity (− 1.75 ± 1.79 vs. -0.80 ± 1.57; P = 0.01) and migraine attacks frequency (− 2.55 ± 4.32 vs. -0.42 ± 4.24; P = 0.02) in migraine patients.

Can low vitamin D cause migraines? ›

Our study found that a larger number of monthly days with headache was related to vitamin D deficiency among migraineurs. Future studies should attempt to confirm the causal relationship between vitamin D deficiency and migraine.

Does pickle juice get rid of migraines? ›

Researchers think pickle juice helps maintain steady blood sugar levels and in some sufferers, unstable blood sugar levels can be a trigger for migraines. Stabilizing blood sugar can curb the severity of a migraine.

Does ginger get rid of migraines? ›

Ginger has been found to reduce both pain and nausea and has therefore also been studied in the context of migraine headache. One randomized controlled trial (RCT) found that ginger was no better than placebo for the prevention of migraine episodes.

› Health Conditions › Migraine ›

5 Vitamins and Supplements for Migraine Headaches · Migraine definition. The term “migraine” refers to a condition with recurring attacks or episodes mar...
Eating a variety of healthy foods, including these 12, and staying hydrated can go a long way toward preventing or relieving headache.
When used along with doctor-prescribed therapies, complementary therapies can have an additive effect in relieving headache and migraine pain.

How can migraine be cured permanently? ›

There's currently no cure for migraines, although a number of treatments are available to help ease the symptoms. It may take time to work out the best treatment for you. You may need to try different types or combinations of medicines before you find the most effective ones.

Can you cure migraine forever? ›

Migraine is a treatable disease. Treatment cannot “cure” Migraine but the headache could be significantly reduced or completely removed with proper treatment. It constitutes of prophylactic treatment and rescue treatment. A Prophylactic treatment is given on a daily basis in order to reduce “attacks” of Migraine.

Is there a way to get rid of migraines forever? ›

How to get rid of migraines. As of now, there is no cure for migraines—but there are many strategies to reduce their frequency and severity. “One of the best ways of identifying triggers is keeping a headache diary."

Can migraines permanently go away? ›

There's no cure for migraines, but a number of treatments are available to help reduce the symptoms. These include: painkillers – including over-the-counter medicines like paracetamol and ibuprofen. triptans – medicines that can help reverse the changes in the brain that may cause migraines.

What foods to avoid if you have migraines? ›

10 Migraine-Triggering Foods
  • Excessive coffee. ...
  • Red wine. ...
  • Aged cheeses. ...
  • Chocolate. ...
  • Citrus fruits. ...
  • Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners. ...
  • Yeast. ...
  • Monosodium glutamate (a.k.a. MSG)

What is the latest treatment for migraine? ›

The Food and Drug Administration approved the most recent, atogepant (Qulipta), in September 2021. Lasmiditan (Reyvow) is a separate type of treatment that targets the serotonin receptors on brain nerve endings to halt migraine attacks as they occur.

What is the main cause of migraine? ›

The exact cause of migraines is unknown, but they're thought to be the result of abnormal brain activity temporarily affecting nerve signals, chemicals and blood vessels in the brain.

At what age do migraines stop? ›

Migraines can begin at any age, though the first often occurs during adolescence. Migraines tend to peak during your 30s, and gradually become less severe and less frequent in the following decades.

Why won't my migraines go away? ›

Anxiety, stress, and mood disorders can trigger headaches that linger for more than a day. Specifically, those with panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder tend to experience prolonged headaches more often than those without.

What pressure points help with migraines? ›

For migraine relief, the most important pressure point to know to relieve headache pain is the space between the base of your thumb and your index finger. For those who want to be acupressure experts, it's called LI-4 (a.k.a. Hegu).

What is the fastest way to cure a migraine without medication? ›

Tips to Get Rid of a Headache
  1. Try a Cold Pack.
  2. Use a Heating Pad or Hot Compress.
  3. Ease Pressure on Your Scalp or Head.
  4. Dim the Lights.
  5. Try Not to Chew.
  6. Hydrate.
  7. Get Some Caffeine.
  8. Practice Relaxation.

What is the longest time a migraine has lasted? ›

The headache portion of an attack can last from four hours to three days. An entire migraine attack—including prodrome, aura, headache and postdrome—may last anywhere from a bit more than one day to slightly more than a week at its very longest, though this is not typical.

How long is too long for a migraine? ›

Without effective treatment, migraine attacks usually last for four to 24 hours. When you're suffering a migraine, even four hours is far too long — and that's why early treatment for a migraine is so important.

What happens in the brain during a migraine? ›

One aspect of migraine pain theory explains that migraine pain happens due to waves of activity by groups of excitable brain cells. These trigger chemicals, such as serotonin, to narrow blood vessels. Serotonin is a chemical necessary for communication between nerve cells.

What happens if you have constant migraines? ›

Conditions that might cause nonprimary chronic daily headaches include: Inflammation or other problems with the blood vessels in and around the brain, including stroke. Infections, such as meningitis. Intracranial pressure that's either too high or too low.


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