Migraines Overview

Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapies often involve teaching relaxation methods, while at the same time increasing blood flow.
Alternative therapies often involve teaching relaxation methods, while at the same time increasing blood flow.
©iStockphoto/Robert Churchill

Many people who experience migraine pain find relief in alternative therapies. These are tricky because there are often not many reputable scientific studies to prove or disprove whether they work, even if thousands of people swear by them. Listed below are some of the more popular therapies and what they involve:

  • Exercise, massage, breathing and relaxation exercises: These exercises can be helpful as far as establishing a routine, increasing blood flow, and helping the sufferer deal with stress more effectively, thereby preventing some known migraine triggers.
  • Yoga: This is a form of exercise that uses stretching, poses and breath control to strengthen muscles and increase blood flow. It promotes calmness and is often used in combination with meditation exercises.
  • Biofeedback: This is the practice of dealing with concentrating on your inner reactions, consciously controlling your pulse, muscle tension, blood flow, and oxygen intake with the help of a therapist, who measures your response to flashing lights and images.
  • Acupuncture: It may sound painful, yet most patients claim it's not. This is the practice of controlling your health and wellness through insertion of tiny needles in strategic places on the body.

Some examples of herbal remedies and supplements include:

  • Riboflavin: Yet another reason your mother told you to eat your broccoli! Riboflavin, or vitamin B-2, helps heal and strengthen brain cells. You can take this as a supplement, or eat foods high in vitamin B.
  • Coenzyme Q10 supplements: This is a preventive medicine that is increasingly popular. Coenzyme Q10 is made by the body to help tissues and muscles function. Scientific studies vary on how well this actually works to prevent migraines. Again, since migraine is such a personal condition, this has worked very well for some and not at all for others.
  • Feverfew: Feverfew is an herbal supplement that has been effective in preventing and in the acute (short-term) treatment of migraines. It is an anti-inflammatory, sort of like ibuprofen. This might be a good treatment to try. Like all medicines, though, taking too much can cause side effects.
  • Butterbur: Butterbur is another herbal supplement that seems to be very effective. This herb, however, may contain cancer-causing compounds, so people with a high risk of cancer and women who are pregnant may want to stay away from this one. Scientists are working on isolating the good parts of the plant and getting rid of the bad to make a better migraine treatment.