10 Proven Migraine Remedies (Plus the One that Doesn’t Work)
Are migraine attacks taking over your life? Tried everything, but the throbbing headache and nausea won't go away? Maybe you need a proven cure.
from What Works What Doesn't: The Bottom Line on Everything Health
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Works for Everyone: A Very Low-Fat Diet
According to the Headache Center of Atlanta, migraines are triggered by
stress (80% of adults), hormones (65%), odors (44%),
lights (38%), smoke (36%), heat (30%), food
(27%), and other disruptions.
In an unrelated study, participants followed an extremely low-fat diet (where less than 10-15% of their calories came from fat each day) for 12 weeks. At the end, nearly all reported having at least 40% fewer headaches. When they did experience pain, it was 66% less severe, and the migraines were about 70% shorter.
Works for Everyone: Vitamin B, Feverfew, Melatonin, Butterbur
Vitamin B2: A Belgian study found that 60% of people who took 400 milligrams of this vitamin everyday had half their usual number of migraines.
Feverfew: This popular herb offers "mild and transient" benefits, according to British researchers, but in a recent study of a feverfew extract containing a consistent level of parthenolide, migraines were reduced from 5 per month to 3.
Melatonin: Two-thirds of study participants who took melatonin before going to bed every night for 3 months said the number of migraines they experienced dropped by 50%.
Butterbur-based remedies:One expert calls these "the best safety-tested herbal to date for the treatment of headache." According to the journal Neurology, 68% of those who took a butterbur product called Petadolex saw the number of migraines they experienced drop by 50%.
Works for Mild Migraines: OTC Pain Relievers
If your attacks don't keep you from your everyday activities, and you experience vomiting once in every five attacks or less, then inexpensive over-the-counter pills like aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen may help. OTC products that contain a blend of acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine were found to relieve pain 20 minutes faster than ibuprofen.
Works for Severe Migraines: Prescription Drugs
If drugstore painkillers don't do the trick, ask your doctor about the
gold-standard for headache cures: a triptan. These drugs can halt a
migraine if taken at the first sign of an attack, and they can even ease
the pain when an attack is underway. Over 40% of the time, triptans
ease the pain within one hour of taking them, and provide complete
relief within two.
Photo by E-MagineArt.com/Flickr Creative Commons
Works for Frequent Migraines: Migraine-Prevention Drugs
If you get two or more migraines per month, you are a candidate for these. Within four weeks of usage, they can cut your migraine-frequency in half. Studies show 90% of people who take beta-blockers propranolol (Inderal) and timolol (Blocadren) get relief. When beta-blockers don't work, calcium channel-blockers might do the trick.
Works for Everyone: Fewer Painkillers
It sounds counter-intuitive, but don't overdo your use of painkillers, or you could end up worse off. Using over-the-counter pain pills more than twice a week, or taking migraine-easing triptans more than 17 times a month can eventually cause "rebound" migraines, warn German researchers.
Works For Some: Acupuncture
A British review of 13 studies concluded it's too soon to tell whether acupuncture can prevent or ease head pain. That said, study-samples that received 12 acupuncture treatments over 3 months used 15% less pain medication than those that didn't use acupuncture.
Don't Bother: Magnesium and Homeopathy
Magnesium: Low brain levels of magnesium have been linked with migraines, but two out of three studies have found that magnesium supplements provide no benefits to the migraine-prone.
Homeopathy: British researchers found no difference in migraine occurrence in study-participants after three months of taking homeopathy medication and three months of taking a placebo.