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Complementary Alternatives Therapies

Medication free

  • By Andie

    Has anyone had success going completely medication free? A while back I read an article by a chappie who decided to accept or embrace the migraine as part of him, and it sparked my interest although haven’t been able to quite do that yet, and today at my 1st ever acupuncture session, the guy mentioned the Chinese way of allowing the pain, because it’s the bodies way of healing itself, he reckons by taking painkillers you are stopping that process, although he has a point I’m not sure I agree with that fully, wondering what people’s thoughts are on this, especially since I tried all the meds known to man the other day and nothing worked!

  • By Mac

    I think your acupuncturist would give me a migraine after less than a minute!!!

    Pain isnt the bodies way of healing itself. Its the bodies way of communicating that there is something wrong – that there is something within the body that needs healing. Besides the initial communication that there is something wrong, it has no further part to play in the healing process at all..

    Painkillers don’t prevent or hinder the healing process. If they did, we wouldnt be taking them without causing further damage. Imagine if you had surgery, were given pain killers, but those pain killers stopped your body from healing after the surgery?

    I went medication free for years after leaving uni, convinced there was nothing that could be done for me and nobody who could help. My migraines got worse, i became more withdrawn, borderline suicidal. It was the worst time of my life.

    Modern medicine…its great, i love it!

  • By Tammy Rome

    I spent most of my life without any preventive medications. I have also spent a number of years with very limited pain medications. I can report that nothing changed regarding migraine. It is my opinion (and I know I’ve read some research supporting it at one time but can’t find it) that by not using preventive medication, patients risk their migraines getting worse over time. Early intervention is critical. That being said, I think there is a lot to be said for trying non-medicine treatments as part of an overall treatment plan. After all, the medications only take us so far. Migraine is best treated by a multidisciplinary program involving medicine, lifestyle management, behavioral therapies, nutrition, and more.

    As for the acupuncturist’s opinion about pain…

    There is acute pain that is a result of injury or illness. Then there is chronic pain that may or may not result from damage or infection. Pain is a symptom that should not be allowed to get out of control, regardless of the cause. I have a friend who experiences extremely high blood pressure with every migraine. For her, it is critical that she prevent as many attacks as possible and that she quickly abort the ones she does get. Allowing pain to exist to facilitate healing doesn’t make sense. Pain increases blood pressure, inflammation, and actually slows the healing process.

    I will keep looking for that research to support what I just wrote and post it here as soon as I find it.

    Have a great day!

  • By Lisa Robin Benson Moderator

    To add to this discussion, i am on the journey now of slowly weening off meds to see what I really “need.” It’s a long and slow process (I’m in my second year and doing it gently) and I’m doing it under my doctors supervision. I wouldn’t be able to do this if I hadn’t gotten the migraines under better control, however, using regular and complementary medicine. I don’t think I’ll ever be med free either, but hope to not be on several different medications. I would caution you against stopping any meds, especially abruptly, unless you are absolutely sure. I’ve had a well-meaning alternative medicine practitioner suggest I go off a preventive, and even though I cleared it with my doctor, I was not ready and it made me sicker. I went back on the med.

    Best of luck!

  • By Andie

    Thanks all, very interesting to hear everyones thoughts, thanks. Comin to the tail end of a migraine as we speak and hopin to het better at the prevention part once again 🙂 they are such a bummer

  • By Schmee

    Hello! This is my first post. I am both an acupuncturist and a migraine experiencer-extrodinaire. (I once had a migraine that lasted 6 months!)

    I know where your acupuncturist got that whole “you need to let your body resolve this stuff on its own” thing. I know, its total bull-hockey, but I do know where its coming from.

    There’s a thing in eastern medicine, where if you don’t “let out” excessive cold or heat, it can become lodged in the body. This has nothing to do with migraines. Its used to describe why some people get pneumonia over and over again. This theory was never meant to apply to pain conditions.

    I suspect this practitioner didn’t mean any harm, but he’s pretty much full of sh#t, even from an Traditional Chinese Medicine POV. If he is telling you that you can’t use regular medicine along with acupuncture, its time to get a new practitioner. Letting your symptoms spiral out of control, in some vein hope that your body will rally and cure you naturally is not likely to have a good outcome.

    Acupuncture theory shares the idea that pain should be dealt with as soon as possible. It is much better to seek treatment when you have a metaphorical hang nail than when a problem becomes big. The ancient Chinese were not stupid. They saw that its easier to avert a small, new pain than a big, old pain.

    Getting help from an acupuncturist is a great idea. Acupuncture can significantly decrease the number of headaches you have and increase your quality of life. Don’t expect miracles though. Some people get complete relief, but most just find that acupuncture is one more thing that helps. Acupuncture is a bit of a mystery. A lot of its effectiveness relies on its ability to decrease the body’s stress response, and create an over-all sense of ease.

    Obviously, acupuncture isn’t 100% effective, or I would be tripping along my merry way right now, not on a forum seeking company in another killer of a headache. (Two days so far. Woot!) But it really does help some people, including people who have had head pain everyday for years.

    I won’t point you in the direction of any specific clinics, in the name of not getting weirdly commercial on you. But its easy enough to google. You should be able to find a competent, trained and licensed acupuncturist in your area. And if money is an issue, google “affordable” or “community acupuncture” to get an idea if there are resources in your area that might be able to help.

    If you have any more questions, I’d be happy to answer.

  • By clairenicole

    I know I’m late in the game on this one… but I know that some medicine causes re-triggers of migraines for me. Excedrin, for example, will kill a migraine but then I get a re-trigger because of all the caffeine. They are made to keep you on it. Isn’t that insane? I also know that the abortive prescription pills I’ve been on have made me pretty ill. The topamax, which is the only think that really worked for awhile, kept needing to be upped every few months until I was taking so much it was effecting my life. Topamax = dumb for me.

    What has helped me a lot is quitting smoking, quitting ALL soda, and oddly enough peppermint oil.

    I don’t think that going treatment free is the option, I do think that treatment does not have to include medications. I’ve had migraines since I was a young teenager and they have just gotten worse over time. Not treating is not an option for me because I get them pretty much every day and they can easily turn my life into a non functioning mess! At the risk of sounding like a hippie, I just don’t think that all of the drugs that they give you for a migraine is always the best way to go. I did NOT want to be taking preventative drugs twice a day every day for the rest of my life. I like my organs not chewed up thanks!

  • By Luke White

    Hi Im new to the forum, but just thought i’d chime in a little bit. I have maybe 2 migraines a week they have come and gone in severity over the years but i feel like over the counter meds just tend to give the up and down rebounding affect that results in too much imbalance and usually not enough relief to even warrant taking them.
    For bad ones I take Maxalt melts 10 mg and they usually reduce it enough for me to sleep it off in a dark room. I tried preventatives once but didnt seem to get much benefit from them, they dulled me a bit and maybe reduced their severity a bit. Doctors havnt really been able to help determine a source, i even went to a headache specialist clinic and he said mine were mild as I wasnt having a seizure or a stroke with it, he didnt recommend any tests or anything other than taking what i already am or trying preventatives.

  • By KaciMo


    As far as preventives go, doctors know so little about migraines and every migraineur is so different, that it can take years to find a preventive that works, unfortunately. I’ve just found one 2 weeks ago that helps after having a constant headache for 11 years. And helps doesn’t mean they’re gone; the frequency and intensity is just lessened. Don’t be discouraged by doctors not being able to find a source. Migraine is a neurological disease in and of itself and is most likely genetic. But if you’re getting migraines twice a week, I would think that’s enough to warrant trying preventives. You probably already know this, but just in case you don’t, taking anything for a migraine (OTC meds or triptans, anything) more than a couple times a week can actually make your migraines worse. It causes medication overuse headache (formerly called rebound) and the headache won’t respond to anything.

    The best thing you can do is educate yourself about your disease (yes, it’s a disease, and this website is a GREAT place to start. There are also a couple facebook groups I’ve found really helpful.

    Sorry if I’m telling you things you already know. I know how annoying that can be. I’m a teacher, so it sort of just comes out. 🙂


  • By KaciMo

    On the original topic, when my headaches first started (Although my first neuro didn’t diagnose it this way, looking back, I’m pretty sure I had NDPH for 5 years, which then turned into daily/intractable migraine.), I was on Topamax (plus a couple others that I don’t remember), but I kept having to increase the Topamax dosage, as someone else mentioned, and at 200 mg I went crazy. I’m flabbergasted when I see that people are on 300 or 400 mg! Of course, at the time I only weighed 105 pounds and hadn’t built up the crazy high drug tolerance I have now (an unfortunate side effect of chronic/daily migraine). After the Topamax disaster, I decided to come off all meds because I thought they weren’t helping and were only turning me into this person I didn’t know. Worst decision I ever made.

    I have tried acupuncture. It didn’t help me any and just got really expensive because he wanted me to see him multiple times a week and my insurance wouldn’t pay for it. I would do it all over again, of course, because I was willing to try anything.