Author: Zia Sherell MPH
Migraine is a neurological condition that affects people of all ages. While there is no cure for migraine, there are various home remedies that can provide relief from symptoms and help prevent episodes.
Migraine headaches are different from other types of headache. The symptoms can include:
- visual changes
- sensitivity to sound, light, or smell
- nausea or vomiting
A number of medications can treat or prevent migraine episodes. Natural remedies may be able to provide additional symptom relief.
Below are 15 home remedies for migraine relief and prevention.
Acupressure involves applying pressure to specific parts of the body. The aim of stimulating these points is to alleviate pain.
Professionals can administer acupressure, or people can try it themselves at home. However, it is helpful to follow instructions from a professional before beginning.
A useful acupressure point for headaches is the LI-4 point, which is in the space between the base of the left thumb and the index finger. Applying firm, but not painful, circular pressure to the LI-4 point using the opposite hand for 5 minutes may relieve headache pain.
A 2017 study looked at using acupressure in 98 participants with chronic migraine with aura. The participants received either standard medication or medication with acupressure for 8 weeks. The researchers found that acupressure decreased migraine-related nausea, but did not relieve pain or enhance the quality of life.
A person may find that changing their diet helps prevent migraine episodes. This is because, for some people, specific foods are migraine triggers.
Some common examples of foods that can trigger migraine include:
- processed meats
People can try to identify potential migraine triggers by keeping a symptom diary and looking for patterns.
Lavender essential oil may help relieve stress, anxiety, and headaches. A 2021 literature review found that there are 10 types of essential oil that contain components that could help ease migraine symptoms. These include lavender, peppermint, chamomile, and basil.
Some clinical trials appear to confirm these conclusions. A 2020 triple-blind trial with 144 participants found that the topical use of basil oil reduced the pain intensity and frequency of migraine episodes.
However, more clinical trials are necessary to better understand which essential oils work best, and how to use them.
It is important to note that some essential oils can be harmful to children, people who have asthma or those who are pregnant or nursing. Please consult a doctor before using them.
People should only inhale essential oils via a diffuser. If applying topically, always dilute with a carrier oil at a safe concentration.
Although research suggests that essential oils may have some health benefits, it is important to remember that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not monitor or regulate the purity or quality of these. A person should talk with a healthcare professional before using essential oils, and they should be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. A person should always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.
A 2021 review of three clinical trials found that ginger powder was safe and effective in treating people with migraine. In comparison to control groups, it significantly reduced pain after 2 hours. Ginger also helps to relieve nausea and vomiting.
While ginger may have benefits, there is a risk of side effects and interactions. For example, people taking warfarin may have an increased risk of bleeding. Speak with a doctor before trying it.
Stress triggers symptoms in 7 in 10 people with migraine. It may even create a cycle, in which migraine pain worsens the stress, which then triggers another migraine.
Whenever possible, it is best to limit situations that can lead to stress. Finding outlets such as journaling, exercise, and meditation may help. Other stress relief strategies might include taking a warm bath, listening to music, or practicing breathing techniques. Some people find stress management classes helpful.
An older 2014 study compared conventional migraine treatment with or without a regular yoga practice. The researchers found that the group who participated in yoga had greater relief than the group who received conventional treatment alone. Participants did yoga 5 days per week for a total of 6 weeks.
A 2022 review noted that short-term yoga interventions reduced clinical migraine symptoms. It also alleviated anxiety, depression, and stress, which can worsen episodes.
Biofeedback is a therapy that involves learning how to consciously control bodily functions that are typically unconscious. For example, a person might learn how to relax muscles.
Sensors on the targeted muscles feed into a small machine that gives real-time feedback about muscle tension, helping users identify tight muscles.
Using sensors along the forehead, jawline, or trapezius muscles in the shoulders may help people target muscles that are contributing to migraine pain.
Acupuncture is a therapy in which a practitioner inserts needles into specific areas of the body for targeted effects. It is similar to acupressure.
An extensive 2020 systematic review looked at studies that evaluated the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating migraine. The study authors found that acupuncture was a safe and effective treatment choice for people with migraine headaches.
However, they acknowledged that many of the studies were low quality and that more high quality research is necessary. Anyone interested in trying acupuncture should find a registered, licensed practitioner.
Massaging the muscles in the neck and shoulders may help relieve tension and alleviate migraine pain. Massage may also reduce stress.
A person may benefit from a professional massage. Anyone interested in a self-massage for migraine can try taking a clean tennis ball and standing against a wall to roll it with some pressure along the shoulders and back.
A deficiency of the essential mineral magnesium may trigger migraine aura or menstrual migraine headaches.
Research has found that taking supplementary magnesium may help reduce the frequency of episodes for some people.
Speak with a doctor before taking this supplement, particularly if other health issues are present.
B vitamins may reduce migraine frequency and severity. They play a role in regulating neurotransmitters in the brain.
A 2021 review found that vitamin B2 at 400 mg daily for 3 months had significant effect on number of days, duration, frequency, and pain score of migraine episodes.
Vitamin D may also play a role in the frequency of migraine episodes. A 2018 study found that people with migraine and vitamin D deficiency had more days with migraine pain than those without the vitamin deficiency.
B vitamins are water soluble, so any excess passes out in the urine. For this reason, it is unlikely that a person could take too many. Still, it is best to speak with a doctor before taking new vitamin supplements.
Butterbur and feverfew are two herbal supplements that may be helpful in reducing migraine pain and the frequency of episodes.
A daily dose of 150 mg of butterbur for about 3 months could reduce episode frequency, according to the American Migraine Foundation. The organization notes that while feverfew is less effective than butterbur, it may be helpful for some people.
There are some risks involved when taking herbal remedies. Speak with a doctor before trying these supplements.
For some, dehydration can be a migraine trigger. Drinking enough water throughout the day may help prevent migraine episodes from occurring. Taking small sips of water may also help a person deal with some migraine symptoms, such as nausea.
Some people find it helpful to lay down in a dark room when they have a migraine headache. For some, falling asleep can also alleviate the pain.
Adequate sleep can also help prevent migraine episodes. Getting too much or too little sleep can be a migraine trigger. Aim for 7–9 hours of restful sleep each night.
Some people find that laying cool or warm compresses on their head can be soothing and help reduce migraine pain.
However, people with circulatory problems, diabetes, or some skin conditions should avoid extremes of temperature.
If an individual experiences migraine symptoms more than a few times per month, or if the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with work or other activities, it is important to see a doctor. A doctor can rule out serious illnesses and provide advice on managing and treating symptoms.
Migraine is common, but it is often underdiagnosed, particularly in communities of color and those with lower incomes.
If someone is having difficulty getting a diagnosis from their primary doctor, they may be able to get second opinions or speak with a headache specialist instead.
Headache specialists are doctors who have completed additional training in diagnosing and treating migraine and other headache disorders. The American Migraine Foundation has a directory of headache specialists people can use to find one.
Migraine can cause severe pain, nausea, and vomiting. Although medications may help ease symptoms, some people may also find relief from lifestyle changes and home remedies.
Ginger, accupressure, some essential oils, and yoga may help relieve the symptoms. Learning what triggers migraine episodes can also help a person prevent or manage them.
If migraine episodes are frequent or severe, it is important to see a doctor. A headache specialist can provide advice on treatment options and help manage symptoms.