If you’ve ever had a migraine, you know they can be debilitating. Migraine headaches can last from a few hours to a few days, and chronic migraines usually occur one or more times a month. And in addition to severe headaches, migraines can also cause sensitivity to light, noise, or smells; nausea or vomiting; loss of appetite; and upset stomach or belly pain.
But while many people turn to pharmaceuticals for migraine treatment, it’s actually possible to find relief with the right foods and herbs. Try incorporating the following substances on a regular basis for drug-free migraine support.
Butterbur is an herb that reduces the inflammatory effect of the chemicals that trigger headaches and migraines. It also acts as a beta blocker, resulting in improved blood flow to the brain. One study showed that migraine attack frequency was reduced by 48 percent in participants who consumed 75 milligrams of butterbur twice a day. Butterbur has also traditionally been used for anxiety, cough, urinary tract conditions and, wound treatment.
- Hydrating foods
Dehydration, or a lack of electrolytes in the body, is a common trigger for migraine headaches. When trying to stay hydrated, water normally comes to mind first, but consuming ample amounts of fruits and vegetables will also help you meet your daily water goals.
Some fruits and vegetables—like cucumbers celery, radishes, green peppers, cabbage, zucchini, cauliflower, eggplant, spinach, watermelon, strawberries. grapefruit, cantaloupe, and oranges—have a water content of over 90 percent. Simply snacking on these tasty foods and incorporating them into your meals on a regular basis will help you to stay hydrated and fend off migraines.
Looking for an alternative to eating fruits and veggies? Juicing is a great option for getting all of the same nutrients in an easily consumable and super convenient drink. And this migraine-busting juice recipe contains some of my favorite hydrating produce.
Migraine-Busting Juice Recipe
- 1/2 cucumber
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 stick celery
- 1 green apple
- 1/2 lemon
- Magnesium-rich foods
People who suffer from migraines often have low levels of magnesium, and several studies suggest that regular magnesium supplementation may reduce the frequency of migraine attacks in people with low levels.
Magnesium is thought to stave off migraines by preventing the wave of brain signaling that produces the visual and sensory changes that are common when experiencing a migraine. Magnesium can also inhibit the pain-transmitting chemicals in the brain.
To increase your daily magnesium intake, you can take a supplement or try magnesium-rich foods. Some of the best magnesium-rich foods include spinach, swiss chard, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, kefir, almonds, black beans, avocado, figs, dates, bananas, and sweet potatoes. Dairy products, meats, chocolate, and coffee also have a decent amount of magnesium.
For centuries, the herb feverfew was traditionally used to treat fevers, headaches, stomach aches, toothaches, insect bites, infertility, and problems with menstruation and labor. And feverfew’s natural pain-relieving effects are said to come from the biochemical parthenolide, which combats the widening of blood vessels that happens during a migraine.
Research shows that feverfew reduces the frequency of migraine headaches and symptoms. You can find supplements available fresh, freeze-dried or dried and can be purchased as capsules, tablets or liquid extracts. You’ll also commonly find supplements that contain both migraine-easing herbs feverfew and butterbur.
- Omega-3 foods
Adding healthy fats to your diet may help reduce migraine pain by reducing inflammation. That’s because omega-3 fatty acids, which are most abundantly found in fatty fish, have been shown to reduce the frequency, duration, and severity of migraines.
Nuts, seeds, and wild-caught fish (such as salmon or sardines), are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids and can help control blood flow and lower inflammation. Not feeling hungry? You can also try taking a fish oil supplement to get your daily value of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Vitamin B2-rich foods
Vitamin B2, also known as Riboflavin, is an important vitamin that acts as an antioxidant within the body. Vitamin B2 helps maintain healthy blood cells, boost energy levels, facilitate a healthy metabolism, and prevent free radical damage.
Vitamin B2 is also a proven method for dealing with migraines. Physicians commonly prescribe riboflavin in high doses of 400 milligrams as a preventive treatment for migraines or those who regularly experience migraine attacks. Supplementation with riboflavin has also been shown to be a natural headache remedy, by reducing the frequency of migraines, helping to decrease symptoms and pain during a migraine, and shortening the duration. Dietary sources of riboflavin include organ and other meats, certain dairy products, leafy greens, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds. You can also try a B-complex supplement
When trying to relieve a migraine headache naturally, it’s important to consume certain foods and herbs, but it’s also important to avoid certain headache-triggering foods. Avoid added sugar, refined grains, conventional dairy, aged cheeses, pickled or cured fish, gluten and yeast, alcohol, chocolate, caffeine, eggs, artificial food additives and sweeteners, preservatives, high amounts of sodium, extremely cold foods, nitrates (often found in processed meats), and fried foods/fast foods to help rid yourself of those nasty migraine symptoms quickly and avoid future attacks.
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