Complementary Treatments to Migraine: Part 1

There's no doubt that the healthcare system here in the US needs a complete overhaul. Doctors are pressured to manage chronic illness patients in 15-minute appointments and they're trained almost exclusively in medication and surgical procedures.

While it will take time for the true overhaul our healthcare system needs, our population is facing a surmounting number of people diagnosed with chronic illnesses many of which are diet and lifestyle-related. Many people are starting to look outside of traditional medicine to manage their health needs.

Why do people explore complementary and alternative options?

Some people don't like the idea of taking medication. Others are more drawn to more natural approaches. Many have tried medicine but didn't get any results and they're left without any further recommendations from the medical community. And of course, some want the best of both worlds!

No matter what your driver, there are plenty of options to explore outside of traditional medicine. They can either be in conjunction with western medicine or stand-alone. That is a personal decision that is best discussed with your doctor and/or your family.

But if you are considering exploring some complementary and alternative options, here are some that I've tried and had great success with:

Essential oils

Essential oils were one of the first natural remedies that I tried for migraine relief. I was hearing all about how lavender and peppermint were helpful in reducing migraine pain. Of course, I thought purchasing peppermint and lavender-scented candles at the local discount store was the same thing and then I couldn't understand why it didn't work for me.

How I choose my oils

Quality matters when it comes to essential oils. Because of the cost to source quality oils (same as quality food), a lot of companies try to create a cheaper alternative by using synthetic fillers and fragrances that can actually cause headaches. When you adulterate essential oils, you’re no longer getting therapeutic benefits, you’re getting concentrated forms of chemical fragrances. You will not receive healing benefits from the essential oils at a discount store.

Thankfully, the oils that are best known to support migraine relief – peppermint and lavender – are not the most expensive oils. They’re actually reasonably priced. So, once I educated myself better on oils, and invested in certified pure therapeutic grade oils, that's when I started getting traction.

How I use essential oils

I personally like to diffuse the oils in my room. Lavender at bedtime is wonderful – migraine day or not. Applying peppermint essential oil to tension on my head or neck brings me great relief too. (Just make sure you’re not getting them anywhere close to your eyes. And if they accidentally do get in your eye, wash it out with a carrier oil like coconut oil. Don’t use water to wash out your eye. It may be intuitive to do so, but a carrier oil will bring you the relief you’re looking for!)

Overall, oils have been so helpful for me to reduce tension in the neck, headaches and even the occasional anxious feelings. I now use essential oils as both a way to prevent migraines as well as reduce the intensity if/when I do get a migraine. They’ve even made my list of items I can’t live without now!

Have you used essential oils? What has your experience been? Share below, we can learn from you too!

More resources on essential oils

And here are some additional resources you can check out regarding essential oils in the Migraine.com community:

There is still so much more to share about complementary care, so definitely stay tuned for part two of this series.

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