Herbal teas for your migraine toolkit

Has anyone ever suggested you try herbal tea to help migraine? If you’ve ever stood in front of the herbal tea display, you know that’s a pretty ambiguous suggestion.  The options can seem endless.

Herbal teas will not stop an attack.

Many herbal teas can be soothing and relaxing, so they often make great comfort measures. A comfort measure is something that helps you be more comfortable while going through a Migraine attack. It will not stop the attack. In some cases, a comfort measure can ease some of the symptoms you experience. Everyone is different, so before you try anything new, please consult your headache specialist.

A different kind of “infusion”

Just like your favorite brand of black leaf tea, herbal teas can be prepared hot or cold, weak or strong.  They’re actually called infusions. When we hear the word infusion, we think of IV needles, bags of saline and pharmaceutical drugs that hopefully bring sweet relief from intractable migraine pain.

An herbal infusion is something quite different

An herbal infusion is the steeping of any medicinal plant in water (usually hot) in order to “infuse” the water with the healing properties, nutrients, and flavors of that plant. Any well-trained herbalist will be skilled in the preparation of herbal infusions. Lucky for you, I’ve been a practicing herbalist for about 13 years.

So that you can get the most out of any herbal teas that you try, I’d like to share some tips on preparing an infusion to get the maximum flavor and benefit from whatever you try.

NOTE: Because herbal teas are plant-based medicine, some people may be allergic or unable to consume some teas due to health conditions or adverse interactions with certain medications. When in doubt, please check with your health care provider. Not all doctors are well-versed in botanical medicine, so I suggest you also consult with a naturopath or herbalist who can collaborate with your doctor.

Here’s how I prepare infusions

Hot infusion (single serving)

  • Choose commercially-prepared tea bag OR
  • Fill a tea ball or bag with ¼ to 1 tsp. of loose herbs
  • Place herbs in a ceramic or other heat-resistant cup
  • Heat 1 cup of water to boiling
  • Pour boiling water over herbs
  • Cover and let steep for 5-15 minutes
  • Remove herbs and sip slowly

Cold infusion (4 quarts or more, chilled in refrigerator)

  • 6-10 small commercially-prepared tea bags OR
  • Fill a large tea bag or ball with ¼ cup loose herbs
  • Place herbs in saucepan or large, heat-resistant bowl
  • Heat 2-4 cups of water to boiling
  • Pour boiling water over herbs
  • Cover and let steep for 10-20 minutes
  • Remove herbs
  • Mix hot tea with cold water in a pitcher
  • Chill in refrigerator until ready to drink

Bath infusion

  • Fill a large tea ball with ½ to 1 cup of loose herbs
  • Toss into bath hot bath water
  • Soak up the goodness through your pores!

Simple shopping guide to get you started

Nausea & Vomiting Peppermint
Ginger root
Spearmint
Red Raspberry
*Slippery Elm bark soothes irritated mucous membranes, making it an ideal option for sore throats and as a perfect “recovery food” after a bad round of migraine-induced vomiting.
Sinus congestion Wintergreen
Eucalyptus
Peppermint
Spearmint
Pain relief Peppermint
Spearmint
Eucalyptus
Wintergreen
Insomnia Lavender flower
Lemon balm
Muscle tension Lemonbalm
Eucalyptus
Relaxation Lemon balm
Lavender flower

 

Looking for healthy iced beverage alternatives?

You might try Red Raspberry leaf tea. You’re probably familiar with its use as a tonic during pregnancy. However, it’s so full of vitamins and minerals (especially calcium!) that it makes a great alternative to traditional iced tea. Its light flavor similar is to tea leaves without the tannins or caffeine.

Hibiscus is also great as a refreshing cold tea. It is naturally free of caffeine and sugar. It’s fruity flavor makes a delicious iced tea.

Personal Experience:
I love iced tea. Unfortunately, the tannins in regular iced tea are one of my triggers. However, I have been able to enjoy Raspberry Leaf and Hibiscus iced teas without any adverse effects.

I generally prefer loose, freshly dried herbs to the commercially prepared tea bags. By using loose herbs, it is possible to adjust the strength of the infusion by the quantity of plant material used.  I like my herbal teas especially strong. Since the commercial tea bags only contain about ½ teaspoon of plant material, they’re not strong enough for me.

However, there is a lot to be said for convenience when you are trying to cope with Migraine symptoms. This is especially true for beginners.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
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