Reducing the Frequency & Severity of Migraine Headaches
There are a number of ways that migraine headaches can be prevented. These can be simpler than just preventative medication — they can include healthy lifestyle practices and avoiding external catalysts that can trigger the migraines.
Avoid Migraine Triggers
WebMD.com provides a list of triggers for headaches. These include bright lights, menstrual periods, changes to sleeping patterns, fatigue, certain kinds of foods, too much caffeine, fasting, caffeine withdrawal, smoking, strong scents and weather changes.
Common food triggers include aged cheeses, alcohol, bread, dried fruits, peanuts, pizza, potato chips, processed or cured meats and smoked fish. The site advises migraine sufferers to take note of what they ate or drank before a migraine to determine what could serve as triggers. But it also recommends that you eat regularly because skipping a meal can cause a drop in blood sugar and trigger a migraine.
Additives that can trigger migraines include tyramine, monosodium glutamate and preservatives such as nitrates.
Reducing caffeine can also prevent migraines. But it is recommended that people wean themselves off it rather than suddenly quit.
According to information at the Mayo Clinic’s website, medications containing estrogen can trigger migraines in women. These include medications for birth control and hormone replacement.
The site advises women with this migraine trigger to discuss alternatives or dosage amounts with their doctors.
The Mayo Clinic notes stress reduction as helpful for reducing headaches in general. Stress reduction techniques like Yoga, meditation, walking, getting a massage or listening to music are recommended as options, but an aerobic exercise routine can be particularly effective.
This includes running, swimming and cycling.
Overly-intensive exercise can also cause headaches, so most sources advise that you gradually increase your level of exertion and speak with your doctor first on what your limits are.
Exercise can also obviously prevent obesity, which is considered a cause of migraines.
Herbal Remedies for Migraines
Healthline.com provides a list of traditional herbal remedies from around the world for migraines. The effectiveness of these varies under clinical conditions and the site urges caution for anyone contemplating their use due to potential side effects.
Butterbur, for example, was considered effective in preventing migraines, according to a 2004 study published in Neurology. Feverfew, another herbal remedy, has had mixed reviews, but many people swear by it’s ability to help prevent migraine attacks. There are some research articles that show it’s effective and others, where the jury is still out. Some effective combination remedies such as MigraGone have Butterbur and Feverfew as some of their active ingredients.
Other herbs listed include peppermint, willow, ginger, black or green tea, valerian, coriander seed, dong quai, lavender oil, rosemary, lime tree (linden), horseradish, honeysuckle, mullein, yarrow, teaberry, hops, betony, evodia and raw potato cuttings.