Profile of face with snow flakes surrounding it for cold therapy

What Unexpected Things Have You Found Help With Migraine?

The Migraine.com team got fantastic answers after posing this question on Facebook: What unexpected things have you found help with migraine? This list of methods for acute migraine relief may help you find a new way to get relief.

Pressure on the head

“Tying something super tight around my head” is Donna K.’s solution. This is one of my favorite tricks, which I wrote about in my Weirdest Migraine Home Remedy Tool. The comments on that article have even more great ideas to help with migraine symptoms.

Menthol or peppermint

Nancy, V, Angelica M., Jennifer C., and Karen B. all said Vicks VaporRub applied to their temples, forehead, and/or neck provide relief. Patti W. uses Biofreeze. I’ve used peppermint oil and various OTC balms sold for stress or headache relief. The common ingredient is menthol or peppermint, which gives a tingling, cooling sensation and can provide relief. Be careful to not get the product too close to your eyes or you’ll have even more pain to deal with. Also, if you use peppermint essential oil, diluting it will help avoid skin irritation.

Cold therapy

Along the same theme, cold or ice packs can provide relief. The cold can range from going outside on a cold day to ice packs to frozen peas to a freezable eye mask.

“Walking outside in the cold. Carefully, so my footsteps don't bang my brain against my skull,” said Pamela K.

Ice pack directly on my head” gives Melissa B. some relief.

“Anything ice cold on my head or neck! Usually a bag of frozen peas,” is Gavin S.’s approach.

“I got an eye mask that you freeze on Amazon for like $8. That helps take away some of the tension” for Emily M. She also used to use menthol on her temples and neck, but had to stop. “It also felt good to put icy hot on my temples and back of my neck, but I can't do that anymore because it started literally burning my skin and making it red and inflamed.”

If cold therapy works for you, a headache-specific ice pack can be easier to manage and provide coverage than an ice pack. They are either like beanies or halos that wrap around your head. Either kind is meant to stay in place so you can move around with them on.

Heat therapy

Whether a heat pack on one’s head or a hot shower, heat therapy can soothe the pain of a migraine attack.

“Microwave beanie thing on my head” is what Heidi S. relies on.

Lianie T. said, “When I can't take the pain anymore and nothing else helps, I sit in a shower as hot as I can stand it and let the water hit where the pain is, it numbs it so I get relief, I sit there for a while with the lights off, then wrap my head in a towel and go to bed and try to sleep.”

Like cold therapy, heat therapy is divisive—some people love it, others can’t stand it or even feel worse with it. If you haven’t tried either, know going in that you might find you’re not a fan, but you might also find a great tool in your migraine toolbox.

Certain food or drink

The list of foods that people get relief from is fun to read and inspires me to try new things. While I haven’t gotten relief from foods (yet), one friend can abort a migraine attack by eating high-protein food (she swears by Arby’s) and another can do the same by chugging a Coke.

“Strangely, pork street tacos, from a certain vendor, followed IMMEDIATELY by Excedrin migraine... Neither works without the other” for Bonnie H.

“Don’t laugh, sometimes a Big Mac meal w/ a Coke” gives Lori O. relief. Amanda B. has similar success with McDonald's, “Surprisingly a cheeseburger and fries with a coke from McDonald’s.”

For Donna U., ”apple cider vinegar with a few shakes of Tabasco sauce” can soothe migraine symptoms. She said, “It took me a while to try this because migraines cause me to have nausea and I was afraid it would make me vomit, but it actually settled my stomach.”

“Pancakes and a cold glass of milk. Some people get migraines triggered by carbs.” For Nicki K, “Carbs help my migraines.”

Rebecca R. can abort an attack with pecans. “Pecans surprisingly have helped when I feel one coming on. I eat a handful and within a couple of hours it's like I never knew I had one start.”

“I sip a smoothie fast enough to get brain freeze. As it subsides, so does some of the migraine pain” for Karan B.

Trisha P. goes for “really spicy food.”

“Pickles” are Amanda P’s go-to migraine food.

Vomiting

This may sound like a strange one, but getting relief after vomiting is a pretty common experience for people with migraine.

“If I’m nauseous then I absolutely have to throw up. It’s the only thing that eases the nausea and although it makes the pain initially worse, it actually eases some after a few minutes” for Kerri O.

Leena P. puts it succinctly: “Vomitting, weirdly!”

Benadryl

Benadryl is commonly given as a migraine treatment in the ER and some people find it an effective treatment to use at home. Although it’s available over-the-counter, it’s best to check with your doctor before adding another treatment to your migraine abortive regimen.

“Benadryl works great!” for Keatha R.

Cathy D. learned through much experience that Benadryl (combined with ibuprofen in her case) can provide relief: “After many years of ER visits, getting fluids and painkillers then sent home just for it to return again, I actually had two ER visits in the same day. The second visits ER doctor could not understand why in my file that I was usually pumped up with Dilaudid and sent home. So she ordered some meds and said I’ll be back in 10 minutes. She comes back and I said, What miracle did you give me? I need a prescription! It took the pain and nausea right away?! She said a Benadryl and Motrin cocktail!!! 800 mg of Motrin and 50 mg Benadryl. Works so good!!! After all the years of pain killers, migraine medicine, etc. this was a blessing! She was a blessing to me. That was about 5 years ago and my last ER visit!”

Music

While some of us can’t stand the thought of listening to music during a migraine attack, others get relief.

“Heavy metal music. Something about the bass” works for Elizabeth B.

Mietra M. can abort an attack by listening to a specific part of a song. “It’s crazy, but there is a part of the song Battle of Evermore, covered by SHEL, where the frequency must be just right to very oftentimes killing off a headache in its early stages.”

Sex

Despite the adage, “Not tonight, dear, I have a headache,” sex can reduce or stop a migraine attack for some people. (It can also be a trigger, so your mileage may vary!)

Rachel P. said, “Not to be controversial but honestly...sex. It nearly gets rid of it every time. Though clearly not always an option depending on the time of day and where my husband and I are.”

Nicola B. and Cali S. said it simply and succinctly: “Sex.”

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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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