Types Of Headaches Migraine Headaches Alternative Treatments

Alternative migraine headache treatments include chiropractic joint manipulation, massage, acupuncture, acupressure, aromatherapy, and feverfew supplements.

Chiropractic Joint Manipulation for Migraine Headaches

For years, chiropractic joint manipulation has been suggested as an alternative migraine treatment. Chiropractic therapy involves the manipulation of the spine to correct a variety of disorders. Migraine headaches are treated by both joint manipulation and reducing muscle tension. Often at-home massage of the neck muscles is also recommended.

Clinical trials examining joint manipulation and migraine treatment vary in their results, although many people claim to have received headache relief through chiropractic care. Chiropractic therapy for migraines often requires two to three joint manipulations a week for a period of four to six weeks.

Acupuncture and Acupressure for Migraine Headaches

The Oriental science of acupuncture has also been used to treat migraine headaches. Research suggests that acupuncture can work well as a preventive measure, reducing the frequency and intensity of headaches. Why acupuncture works is a mystery. It has been suggested that endorphins are released when the acupuncture points are stimulated, or that regular treatment stabilizes the brain’s serotonin levels.

Acupressure is closely related to acupuncture. Instead of using needles, massage is used to stimulate the body’s pressure points. Acupressure has the advantage that it can be used by anyone, once they have been taught which pressure points to manipulate. Acupressure is often used by migraine suffers themselves as soon as they recognize symptoms.

Feverfew for Migraine Headaches

Of all the herbal remedies claiming to relieve headache pain (and there are a great many of them), feverfew is one of the most popular. Used extensively for headaches in Europe, feverfew contains a substance called parthenolide. Parthenolide prevents the production of the chemicals that cause the brain’s blood vessels to dilate.

Feverfew is a preventive agent, not a migraine treatment, and must be taken for several weeks before relief is felt. Side effects are most commonly stomach problems and nervousness. Some studies indicate that long-term feverfew users experience anxiety, insomnia, and intense headaches if they suddenly stop taking the herb.

Aromatherapy for Migraine Headaches

Little scientific research has been done into the use of aromatherapy as a migraine headache treatment. Unless your migraine is triggered by perfumes, however, it probably can’t hurt to try aromatherapy.

Rosemary is generally held to be the best essential oil to use, although aromatherapists also recommend peppermint and chamomile. A few drops of rosemary oil may be heated to release its scent, or dropped into a hot bath; many people find hot baths relieve their migraines. A massage with a mixture of ten drops of rosemary oil and an ounce of carrier oil, such as olive or vegetable oil, may also help.

Never use essential oils on the skin without first diluting them with a carrier oil. Some essential oils can be quite harsh and irritate the skin.

Resources

Holistic-Online.com. (update 2002). Migraine headaches.

Migraine Action Association. (nd). How to treat migraine.

Migraine Mentors. (nd). Treatment without medication.

National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain. (nd). People with migraines.

Whole Health MD. (nd). Acupressure for migraines.