Migraines are uncomfortable and can cause much disruption to a person’s life. However, the good news is there are plenty of things you can try such as dietary and lifestyle changes as well as naturopathic remedies, which we shall detail in this article.
Migraine is a neurological condition that extends beyond causing severe headaches. It encompasses a range of symptoms that can accompany the headache pain. These symptoms include nausea, vomiting, numbness or tingling sensations, as well as heightened sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine sufferers may experience any combination of these additional symptoms alongside the debilitating pain. The duration of most migraine attacks is around four hours, but they last, on average, a maximum of 72 hours.
Migraine is a condition that can affect individuals of all ages and often has a genetic connection. Women are more likely to be diagnosed with migraine than men[i].
Migraine headaches are typically classified into two categories: episodic and chronic, and further divided into those with and without aura. It is a condition thought to be caused by abnormal brain activity affecting nerve signalling, chemicals, and blood vessels in the brain. There is no definitive cause of migraine, but triggers include dehydration, hormonal changes, stress, certain medications, and certain food or drinks.
Migraine triggers are unique to each person, and keeping a headache journal can help identify them. Tracking the activities, foods, and medications are associated with migraine attacks can help you when working out a personalised treatment plan with a nutritional therapist.
Migraine pain is often described as pulsating, throbbing, perforating, pounding, or debilitating. In some cases, it may feel like a severe, dull, steady ache. The pain may start out mild, but if left untreated, it can intensify to moderate or severe levels. In cases of migraine with aura, the pain may be accompanied by an aura (visual disturbances), or this may not occur at all.
Naturopathic medicine seeks to identify and address the root causes of migraine, rather than simply managing symptoms with medication. From a naturopathic perspective, migraine is often viewed as a condition that can be triggered by various factors, which are often unique to the individual.
A personalised dietary plan, based on individual needs and preferences, can help support overall health and reduce inflammation, which may contribute to reducing the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks.
Nutritional therapy is a natural approach to managing migraine that focuses on identifying and addressing nutrient deficiencies and imbalances that may contribute to migraine attacks.
Identifying and avoiding trigger foods, such as chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods, can help reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks.
A diet that is anti-inflammatory in nature may involve incorporating more leafy greens, vegetables, berries, nuts, and seeds into your meals, as well as reducing your intake of processed foods and excess sugar. Additionally, consuming anti-inflammatory fats like extra-virgin olive oil or including salmon in your diet may also be helpful[ii].
Certain supplements, such as magnesium, riboflavin (vitamin B2), and Coenzyme Q10, have been shown to be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of migraine attacks.
Magnesium: Magnesium deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of migraine, and supplementation with magnesium has been shown to be an effective natural treatment for migraine[iii]. Viridian Magnesium Citrate or OSI Magnesium Bath Flakes or Health Factory
Riboflavin: Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in energy production and cellular function. Studies have shown that supplementation with high doses of riboflavin can help reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks[iv]. Viridian High Two B-Complex
Coenzyme Q10: Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a natural compound that plays a critical role in cellular energy production. It is also a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect cells against damage from free radicals. CoQ10 has been shown in studies to be an option for possible migraine prevention[v]. Pure Encapsulations CoQ10 60 mg
Feverfew: Certain herbs, such as feverfew have been traditionally used to prevent and treat migraine attacks. These herbs have anti-inflammatory and vasodilator properties that can help reduce inflammation and improve blood flow to the brain[vi].Viridian Feverfew (60 Caps)
5-HTP: 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is a naturally occurring amino acid that is involved in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in mood regulation, sleep, and pain perception. As such, 5-HTP has been studied as a potential natural treatment for migraine[vii]. Pure Encapsulations 5-HTP 50mg
Nutritional deficiencies and imbalances, such as low magnesium levels, can contribute to migraine attacks. Nutritional testing can help identify these deficiencies and imbalances, allowing for targeted supplementation and dietary recommendations[ix].
Food sensitivity testing:
Certain foods, such as chocolate, cheese, and wine, are common triggers for migraine attacks. Food sensitivity testing can identify specific foods that may be triggering migraine attacks, allowing for targeted dietary changes. Recent studies have suggested that gluten may act as a migraine trigger for some, with a possible link between celiac disease and migraines[x].
Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during the menstrual cycle or menopause, can trigger migraine attacks. Hormone testing can help identify hormonal imbalances that may be contributing to migraine attacks, allowing for targeted hormone balancing interventions[xi].
Stress is a common trigger for migraine, and stress management techniques such as meditation, yoga, mindfulness, gratitude journalling and deep breathing can help reduce stress levels and prevent migraine attacks[xii].
Massage therapy is a holistic approach to managing migraine that can relieve pain and prevent future attacks by addressing muscle tension and trigger points in the muscles and soft tissues. By reducing stress levels, improving circulation, and relaxing the muscles, massage therapy can help to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks. It can also help to release trigger points and improve blood flow to the brain, which can reduce the severity of migraine attacks. However, it's important to work with a licensed and experienced massage therapist who has knowledge in working with migraines. Talk to us today if you have any enquires about our various massage services[xiii].
[i] Sutherland HG, Albury CL, Griffiths LR. Advances in genetics of migraine. J Headache Pain. 2019 Jun 21;20(1):72. doi: 10.1186/s10194-019-1017-9. PMID: 31226929; PMCID: PMC6734342.
[ii] Gazerani P. Migraine and Diet. Nutrients. 2020 Jun 3;12(6):1658. doi: 10.3390/nu12061658. PMID: 32503158; PMCID: PMC7352457.
[iii] Peikert, A., Wilimzig, C., Köhne-Volland, R., & Prophylaxis of migraine with oral magnesium: Results from a prospective, multi-center, placebo-controlled and double-blind randomized study. Cephalalgia, 16(4), 257–263. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1468...
[iv] Namazi N, Heshmati J, Tarighat-Esfanjani A. Supplementation with Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) for Migraine Prophylaxis in Adults and Children: A Review. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2015;85(1-2):79-87. doi: 10.1024/0300-9831/a000225. PMID: 26780280.
[v] Sazali S, Badrin S, Norhayati MN, et al Coenzyme Q10 supplementation for prophylaxis in adult patients with migraine—a meta-analysis BMJ Open 2021;11:e039358. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-039358
[vi] Wider B, Pittler MH, Ernst E. Feverfew for preventing migraine. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Apr 20;4(4):CD002286. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD002286.pub3. PMID: 25892430; PMCID: PMC7133498.
[vii] Maffei ME. 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP): Natural Occurrence, Analysis, Biosynthesis, Biotechnology, Physiology and Toxicology. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Dec 26;22(1):181. doi: 10.3390/ijms22010181. PMID: 33375373; PMCID: PMC7796270.
[viii] Rezaie S, Askari G, Khorvash F, Tarrahi MJ, Amani R. Effects of Curcumin Supplementation on Clinical Features and Inflammation, in Migraine Patients: A Double-Blind Controlled, Placebo Randomized Clinical Trial. Int J Prev Med. 2021 Dec 1;12:161. doi: 10.4103/ijpvm.IJPVM_405_20. PMID: 35070194; PMCID: PMC8724631.
[ix] Nattagh-Eshtivani E, Sani MA, Dahri M, Ghalichi F, Ghavami A, Arjang P, Tarighat-Esfanjani A. The role of nutrients in the pathogenesis and treatment of migraine headaches: Review. Biomed Pharmacother. 2018 Jun;102:317-325. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2018.03.059. Epub 2018 Mar 22. PMID: 29571016.
[x] Dimitrova AK, Ungaro RC, Lebwohl B, Lewis SK, Tennyson CA, Green MW, Babyatsky MW, Green PH. Prevalence of migraine in patients with celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease. Headache. 2013 Feb;53(2):344-55. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.2012.02260.x. Epub 2012 Nov 5. PMID: 23126519.
[xi] Sacco S, Ricci S, Degan D, Carolei A. Migraine in women: the role of hormones and their impact on vascular diseases. J Headache Pain. 2012 Apr;13(3):177-89. doi: 10.1007/s10194-012-0424-y. Epub 2012 Feb 26. PMID: 22367631; PMCID: PMC3311830.
[xii] Stubberud A, Buse DC, Kristoffersen ES, Linde M, Tronvik E. Is there a causal relationship between stress and migraine? Current evidence and implications for management. J Headache Pain. 2021 Dec 20;22(1):155. doi: 10.1186/s10194-021-01369-6. PMID: 34930118; PMCID: PMC8685490.
[xiii] Moraska A, Pollini RA, Boulanger K, Brooks MZ, Teitlebaum L. Physiological adjustments to stress measures following massage therapy: a review of the literature. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2010 Dec;7(4):409-18. doi: 10.1093/ecam/nen029. Epub 2008 May 7. PMID: 18955340; PMCID: PMC2892349.
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.