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Figure with head down in frustration and a thought bubble above his head surrounded by advice bubbles

Advice People without Migraines Have Given Me

I stopped telling people about my daily migraines, because I noticed a strange trend when I’d reveal my brain-grilling neurological disorder: the tips. The lovely woman I’d meet at a dinner party or the fun mom I met at carpool would suddenly be moved to give me tips on how to fix my head. These almost helpful instructions always started out the same way, “I don’t get migraines, but have you tried…?

Unsolicited advice from those without migraine

My new friends would list remedies that seemed to come from snippets of magazines they’d read at the dentist’s office or the back of chewing gum wrappers. I suppose it’s possible Bazooka Joe has a crack team of migraine researches working to provide the latest and greatest research, but they don’t list their telephone number.

Advice giving sans experience can be a bit tricky. As non-migraineurs, these new friends weren’t aware of the pitfalls that my brain can experience daily. Here are my four favorite tips I’ve gotten from people without migraines:

1. Have you tried getting more sun?

“I don’t get migraines, but have you tried getting more sun?” While there have been studies showing Vitamin D supplements can help some migraine suffers, the bright, hot sun is my nemesis. I have back-up sunglasses and back-ups for my back-ups hidden in strategic places. Too much brightness will trigger a migraine as well as becoming overheated. Is there such thing as a moon tan?

2. Have you tried doing a handstand?

“I don’t get migraines, but have you tried doing a handstand?” While a handstand is part of normal yoga practice, and yoga has been proved to possibly reduce migraines, during a migraine I can’t practice anything but lying down. Increasing my circulation, inverting my normal blood flow, and making all the blood rush to my boiling head might be a good way to see my eyeballs pop out. Then again, that might take my attention off my migraine.

3. Have you taken Advil for your migraines?

“I don’t get migraines, but have you tried taking Advil?”  Yes.

4. Have you eaten a spoonful of black pepper?

“I don’t get migraines, but have you tried eating a spoonful of black pepper?” Cayenne pepper has a compound called capsaicin that dulls one of the neurotransmitters responsible for sending pain signals to the brain. Black pepper just makes you sneeze.

It’s important to understand migraine is not simple

I understand that the people really want to help, yet when offered these types of simple solutions, the complexity of my neurological condition somehow feels diminished. My heart beats heavier, and I want to cry out how my migraines are far from simple.

So, I’d like to make a suggestion: If the door is opened to chat about migraines, try to understand it’s more about the listening than about offering the solutions. I get how powerless my migraines can make a person feel. They make me feel that way, too. I mean, I’d love to lay in the sun, do a handstand, take some Advil, and sprinkle black pepper like fairy dust and call it a day, but it doesn’t work like that. Migraines are rough, and I thank you in advance for just listening.

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


  • glassmind
    2 months ago

    Soo true!

    “Pinch the skin between your thumb and first finger to get rid of migraines”

    I did try.

    It failed. Lol

  • Crystalrz4
    2 months ago

    I couldn’t help but laugh. YES! I have received my share of interesting advice over the years on how to help or cure my migraines. I’m 67yrs and have had migraines since I was 4yrs.

  • manahime1969
    2 months ago

    When I get the Advil question I have to respond with “I can’t take it.” Then I get asked the follow-up question “Why can’t you take it?” Then I have to answer that with “It makes my chest hurt with major heartburn-like symptoms.” That tends to put a stop to any more follow-up questions after that.

  • deedeevee1
    2 months ago

    Omg!! That was very funny to read!! It’s sooo true!! Sad but true!! I know they mean well but oh my the things I’ve heard!! Standing on my head was a new one to me!! Lol

  • Bfmickl
    2 months ago

    Was born, apparently, with migraines. At least my mother says I’ve cried and reached for my head as a toddler. Cold compresses seemed to calm me to a degree. The frequency and duration increased over the years. Your article on suggestions from good intentioned individuals hit home. Have heard the all. What really gets me at times, is when my migraines are described as ‘you having another headache?. Yea, I know, they’re headaches, but a migraine is much, much more than just a headache. Call them what they are. I’ve had headaches. Will be glad to trade the migraines for just having headaches.

  • Dori Fritzinger
    2 months ago

    I have migraines since I was very little. I don’t remember ever not having them growing up
    Mommy called them “sick headaches” Quiet darkened bedroom

  • Dori Fritzinger
    2 months ago

    I thought that new medicine cured them.
    Are you sure you are taking it correctly?
    I would tell your doctor It didn’t cure them

  • pigen51
    2 months ago

    Even better, I have a sister who gets migraines. Yet she tries to give me advice on how to get rid of my migraines, which I have had for over 40 years, and been to every neurologist in town, and they will no longer see me, since they have nothing new to offer me. I have been to a headache clinic, a university hospital, a pain clinic, tried uncountable treatments, including botox, a pain block, more medications than you could imagine, and multiple diaries, plus altering my routine.
    I have not tried some of the crazy ideas my sister has suggested such as fasting for a week and then slowly introducing foods into my diet until I get a migraine, and then I will know what food is causing my headaches. Or other equally helpful ideas.
    With a family history of migraines, plus the at least 5 major concussions playing high school football, I don’t think that it is going to be some simple treatment like drinking grapefruit juice every morning.

  • BrownT
    2 months ago

    Hi Pigen51
    Some of the worst advice I have received is from supposedly Neurologist who have not experienced serious pain and never had a migraine. The Neurologist that did botox, when I asked about his experiences, reflected on a time he had a spinal tap and had significant pain. He could relate to the pain of migraines and felt (overly) competent to provide advice. All he really wanted was to make himself rich (in my estimation) on charging high fees to inject botox for 8 monthly injections after it was obvious to not work.
    The other common trait with neurologists is that they all seem to be one trick ponies in that they have one treatment and if that does not work they can do nothing further. Having seem many neurologists over decades without any relief it is frustrating not to have ONE that could look further than the one thing they did. Even pain clinics have a bias towards a treatment like methadone.
    All of the experts do agree if I was to lose weight (not too heavy) exercise more and abstain from certain foods my migraines would go away.
    When I think of my life, when I was exercising (marathons biathlons, weight training etc., and underweight and had little to eat, it did nothing for my migraines. I got them anyhow.
    In the first nine years of my chronic migraine I exercised just about daily. I could no longer run marathons but could still jog. It always gave me a bad migraine from my efforts. Maybe without all than effort I would be less chronic.
    My conclusion is that the experts are really no better than an opinionated friend who has never had migraines and eats too much bazooka gum.
    The best results I have had is with my family doctor who is willing to let me try different medications and cocktails that I have do the research on. If the drug is something above his pay grade then he helps me find a specialist that can provide support. All this while he has the medical governing body breathing down his back about the opioid crisis.

  • joy
    2 months ago

    Today’s advice is in my top 3 – “drink more water”! Followed by “no sugar” and “keep taking your meds”.
    I drink between 64 and 80 ozs a day of water, take my meds, and eat limited sugar. ARGH

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