Tips and Tricks: Migraines Without Meds

We’ve all got that one thing that we know will make us be more comfortable, more ourselves. That little something we feel gives us an edge in whatever we’re doing.

It’s that red pair of shoes that’ll make us stand out from the crowd because there really isn’t a wrong time to wear them, but they certainly aren’t expected.

It’s that lucky pair of socks. It’s the green scarf. It’s our lucky pen.

We want to be comfortable.

But, when we’ve got outside forces controlling a pulsing sensation in our heads, comfort is about as far away as the sun we’re desperately trying to avoid.

And if you’re in my position, reaching for the bottle of pain killers isn’t always the right choice.

To be completely honest, my pain meds scare me. Every time I get into some trance while I’m on them. Every time I feel myself coming down. Every time the pain sneaks back in. Some days I convince myself that the medication simply wore off and the brunt of the migraine will soon pass. But other days, I’m stuck in this state of paralyzing fear that the only reason the pain jumped back up so high is because I’m really withdrawing from my medication.

So I study my charts. I pay attention to how many days go by. I look for patterns where they probably don’t exist.

But for now, I’m avoiding my pain medicine as if it’s actually the source of the next bubonic plague.

There’s a lot that’s been said and analyzed when it comes to riding out migraines naturally.

Plenty of people find that when they stop taking medication, they’re migraine attacks don’t occur as close together. But, obviously that isn’t the case for everyone and usually points to the underlying “medication overuse headache” diagnosis.

Having been diagnosed with that 8 months ago, now I live in fear that I’ll get to that point again.

So, for those of you looking for more natural treatments, I made a list of those that provide some relief for me.

1. Peppermint Everything 

Peppermint is actually such a life saver. I carry a peppermint essential oil roller stick in my purse along with a container of breath mints.

This is less to treat pain and more to combat that pesky nausea that pops up without warning more than one would prefer.

I cannot count the amount of times I’ve made it home or made it through some sort of event simply because I had a breath mint come to my rescue.

Peppermint essential oils have tons of uses and everyone should have some on hand.

2. Eucalyptus Oil + Unscented Lotion 

This one is totally new to me and once I discovered it, I was actually a tad angry with myself for having gone so long without.

Take a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil and combine it with a dime’s worth of an unscented lotion. Massage this into your forehead, eyebrows, temples, neck, shoulders, and even your jaw if you tense up their like I do. Avoid any open sores and don’t get too close to your eyes.

Make sure to test this out on a small area before applying it to your face/neck to make sure you don’t have any sort of reaction, as some people’s skin is too sensitive to handle essential oils.

Something about this combination helps ease up the tension and relaxes the muscles. It isn’t permanent relief, but temporary relief goes a long way.

3. Dimmer Switches and Black Out Curtains

Breaking news: light is our worst enemy. And there isn’t anything worse than getting struck with a migraine and not having a dark place to go.

When you realize how much curtains cost, chances are you’re going to cringe and say absolutely not, but if you’re prone to migraines and headaches, trust me it is worth the investment. And if you can’t stretch for it, find some cheap curtains and run to your local craft store and find a dark fabric or a thicker fabric to sew onto the back of your curtains.

Sometimes we have to nap during the middle of the day. Sometimes we just need to sit in the dark. Black out curtains are going to become your best friend.

The next best thing, is a dimmer switch. Perhaps you go in and change your actual light switch so you can dim the overhead light… or like me you abandon the overhead light all together. They sell dimmer switches that your lamps can be plugged into so you can always have the perfect amount of light. This comes in handy when you can’t stand to be in the light, but you realize you can’t see your dinner.

And once you start having dimmer lights, you realize how much better ambiance lighting is than regular lighting.

4. Hot Shower or Ice Packs?

This is the trickiest decision to make, at least in my mind. And some days your pain will respond to one and not the other.

My only tell tale sign is if I can tell I’m a bit stuffed up, heat is probably my best bet.

Hot showers are great because they can help ease up the tension from your migraine, in your sinuses, and any built up tension in your neck.

I’ve found that if I’m too sensitive to light, I can still shower if I plug in a nightlight.

On the other end, sometimes heat makes it worse. Sometimes I’ll shower only to find my pain is worse and my face is blotchy like I’m going to have a heat stroke…

I’ve got two different “ice packs” that are my go to. I’ve got the Cold Pac that is designed to fit your neck and then a gel ice pack that’s a face mask with a soft liner – both are available for around $15 on Amazon.

Sometimes my best option is to put on my face mask and lay the cold pac on my pillow, wrap up in some blankets and try to take a nap. Even if I don’t actually sleep, the cold can provide tremendous relief.

5. Ice Cream

Call me crazy, but ice packs work for a reason… so does ice cream.

If you’ve spent hours and hours unable to break the pain, seriously go dish up some ice cream. Odds are the brain freeze will help dull the pain, and if it doesn’t you probably needed to eat something anyway.

6. Soothing Music 

Meditation isn’t necessarily for everyone, but when you’re just laying on your couch or in bed waiting for the pain to ease up, putting on a some quiet spa or meditation style music can be really helpful.

Nothing is more annoying than the advice that says “oh you just need to relax you’ll feel better” but allowing your mind to focus a little bit on something other than the pain can go a long way.

One of my favorite hypnosis videos talks a lot about how much our subconscious is capable of, and I truly stand behind the idea that if you can focus in on soothing music and almost distract yourself from the pain, you’ll get through it quicker.

No, this isn’t at all intended to relieve any pain, but with practice you can hide within your subconscious and be much less aware of the pain.

Yes, I sound like a nutcase but after years of dealing with this, I’ve only recently become successful at this practice. 

7. Laughter 

Obviously the last thing you want to deal with when you’re in so much pain is other people, but the hormones released when you’re truly laughing, and I mean laughs that are coming from deep within your soul, belly laugh, laughing until you sound a bit like a seal, laughter – are incredibly powerful and act almost as a placebo for the pain.

8. Frankincense at night

Nothing is harder than trying to fall asleep when your head is throbbing and it hurts to lay down.

I always take melatonin, but that isn’t always enough.

I’ve found that diffusing frankincense with a bit of peppermint helps me fall asleep through the pain. Sometimes all we need is actual rest to start feeling better, but for the most part just being able to sleep is a huge breakthrough.

9. Peanut Butter Toast

For when you just don’t think you can stomach anything. A slice of bread (I go with oatnut) with peanut butter smeared all over it has enough calories and nutrients to sustain you, without having an overpowering smell or flavor.

Plus, it doesn’t taste weird if it gets cold so if you take half an hour to eat your singular piece of toast, that’s okay.

My most important tip and trick is to find a consistent routine. I’ve found that the way I start my morning has a huge impact on how I’ll feel throughout the rest of the day.

For me, getting up and getting my coffee brewed to enjoy my first cup in my dimly lit living room allows me to wake up and become acquainted with the new day at the pace that feels right.

If I’m feeling a bit “heavy” in my head – not a full blown migraine, but maybe a lingering one – I’ll diffuse a combination of lemon, peppermint, and rosemary. This “uplifting” blend helps me wake up and can get rid of that heavy fog I may be in. If I find it isn’t working, that’s a clear indication of an actual migraine so I can prepare for how my day will go.

My mornings take about 3 hours of slowly getting up, making breakfast, and continuing to slowly enter my day. And that’s okay.

I know that if I wake up too early, or rush to eat breakfast or get off to an appointment I’m setting myself up to miserable the rest of the day.

Everyone has their own little list of ways to find relief, this just happens to be mine. The hardest thing we do everyday is decide how to treat ourselves and playing the guessing game as to what will work.

We can’t just pop an Excedrin and drink some coke and feel better.

But some days, we just can’t bring ourselves to take our abortives. Maybe it’s been too close to the last time we took an abortive. Maybe, we’re out of medication or the 10 pills they gave us for the month are used up.

There’s all sorts of placebo type remedies out there that people will swear by, it’s a matter of finding which one’s are effective for you.

And a reminder to all that we’ve all tried so many options. These are mostly “at home” remedies. If we want your remedies and your advice we’ll come to you.


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