10 Things... Natural Migraine Remedies
Recently I shared on my Instagram Stories that I was making an essential oils roll-on blend to help remedy migraines and tension headaches. I’ve had a few questions about what oils I use, or how I use them.
It made me think that perhaps a blog post might be of some use to some of you. Whether it’s just the occasional headache you get, or if you suffer from migraines, I figured these suggestions could be helpful for you if you’re hesitant to use medication, or if, like me, painkillers are insufficient on their own.
I will note that because my migraines can become extremely severe and make opening my eyes or moving my head even slightly an excruciating experience, I usually take Excedrin when I feel I need to. I find it the best, and unlike Solpadene (which I used to use), “withdrawal” after a day or two or using it doesn’t give me even more headaches. That’s a complaint I’ve heard from two other migraine-sufferers, so I think there might be something to it. Anyway, regardless of what medication you use, it’s always wise to mention it to your GP or to ask the pharmacist for their input.
But here are some safe, natural remedies you can use without worry:
1. Heat pad
A microwavable body pillow is a really simple solution to comfort period pain, aching muscles or, in this case, tension headaches. I heat mine for two minutes and sit it on the back of my neck. It relaxes muscle tension and helps blood/ oxygen/ whatever to circulate like it should.
2.Peppermint essential oil blend
I'm a big believer in the healing powers of essential oils, and use them in all kinds of homemade lotions and potions. For tension headaches, I find peppermint essential oil a godsend to soothe the burning sensation a migraine brings.
If I'm feeling up to it, I often wash my hair- whether it needs it or not- with a few drops of peppermint essential oil mixed into my regular shampoo. Massaging it into my scalp is really soothing, but because my hair is too thick to dry naturally, it means I need to blow-dry my hair. This is where my super-duper plan hits a stumbling block; because obviously the noise of a hairdryer isn't ideal when you have a migraine.
So, for a more quiet, simple instant hit of peppermint oil, I use a rollerball blend of 5 parts peppermint, 3 parts chamomile and about 10 parts carrier oil. I use argan oil, but jojoba or fractionated coconut is great too.
During a time when I was getting headaches almost every day, I decided to give acupuncture a try. I had always heard great things, but up until things got really bad, couldn't justify the expense. Truth be told, if it wasn't for the cost, I'd probably still be going for weekly sessions. I really found that a combination of acupuncture, acupressure and cupping worked wonders.
I'm terrified of needles, which was another reason why I was hesitant to try acupuncture. And cupping? I freaked out when I first heard what that entailed. But honestly, neither of these are painful. The only thing that was was the acupressure/ deep tissue massage. But, it worked out the knots and tension in my neck, shoulders and upper back. So it was worth the pain!
The acupuncturist I worked with also recommended a plethora of herbal remedies, heat patches and oils. The one I found most effective? The Wong to Yick Woodlock Medicated Oil. A tiny drop of this deep heat oil on the back of my neck gave me instant, long-lasting relief.
Magnesium is really beneficial for people suffering from muscle tension. This BetterYou Magnesium Oil Goodnight Spray is probably designed as a post-work out relaxant, but I find it great for preventing migraines. I use a couple of sprays on the back of my neck and on the soles of my feet (which is also a good place to use essential oils and Vicks VapoRub, FYI) so that it can travel up through the passages and work its magic.
Because peppermint is so soothing, I often brew up a cup of Pukka Peppermint and Licorice tea when I feel a migraine coming on. If I'm lucky, I get a 20 minute window when I feel my eyes becoming super sensitive, and the back of my head and neck tensing up. I jump into prevention mode and lie in the dark with a cup of peppermint tea, which I find really helpful. Plus, it tastes lovely.
6.Frozen eye mask
Anyone who suffers from migraines will know all about the insane burning sensation in your eyeballs the pain causes. To relieve the feeling, I keep an eye gel mask in my freezer so that it's ready to pop on whenever I need it. If don't have an eye mask, a bag of frozen peas on your eyes and forehead can work just as well.
This has the same effect as the eye mask, but can be kept in your handbag, car or desk drawer. The cooling sensation of the spray is really refreshing and can reach every little bit of your eye, forehead and neck areas, which for me, suffer from a burning feeling during a migraine. I'd strongly recommend using an unscented mist like this Evoluderm Brume L’eau or Avene Thermal Water Spray if you're sensitive to fragrances.
I'm a passionate music fan... But during a migraine, there's nothing worse than loud, uptempo music. Most of the time I avoid noise altogether, but sometimes I find the relaxing sounds of piano music really comforting. This Yiruma greatest hits playlist is soft and peaceful and distracts the mind from the unbearable pain of migraines.
9.Voya body lotion
I'm a huge fan of the organic, Irish skincare brand Voya. My mother and I have used several of their products and love each an every one. Because what you put on your skin sinks into your bloodstream, I always try to keep things as natural as possible. And Voya's ingredients are the real deal.
In fact, if it's a dose of relaxation you need to improve your migraines or other health issues, a trip to the Voya Seaweed Baths, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Standhill, Co. Sligo couldn't be more perfect. It's about an hour from here I grew up and I've always thought there was something so calming about the area.
Anyway, back to the body lotion and why I use it! The Voya Softly Does It body lotion is a beautifully scented product that, when breathed in, really relaxes the mind. I use a small amount on my shoulders and back of my neck to massage away the tension that leads to migraines.
If you're on the look-out for other great brands using organic ingredients, check out my list of favourite natural skincare products.
10.Spoon for acupressure
When the need occurs, I magically become an acupressure aficionado and find myself suddenly knowing exactly which pressure point to press on to relieve tension. My professional tool of choice? A teaspoon. The end of a teaspoon, cold from the fridge, is ideal for gently pressing into the corners of my eyes and my forehead.
I really hope you found some of these ideas helpful, and if you suffer from migraines or any other form of chronic pain, know that I'm rooting for you.
If you have any recommendations for natural pain prevention, I'd really love to hear them. Get in touch via Twitter or Instagram.