Alternative Treatments – Headaches and Migraines

Alternative Treatments – Headaches and Migraines

Many Canadians suffer from migraines and headaches, which constitute one of the most common sites of pain in the human body. While the common antidote is aspirin, ibuprofen, or other painkillers, many people try to avoid these medications if possible due to their side effects. There may be some ways to help alleviate pain and symptoms from headaches and migraines without resorting to painkillers or medication with alternative treatments.

Types of Headaches

Headaches are usually defined as pain coming from the head or upper neck, and typically come in three types: tension, migraine, and cluster.

Tension: Tension headaches are caused by the contraction of muscles around the skull, and occur due to physical or emotional stress that the body is going through. The level and location of the pain may vary, but tension headaches are not usually disabling.

Migraine: Migraines are typically characterized by intense pain, and sensitivity to light, sounds, and smells. They are often debilitating, and can last several days. More severe migraines can result in vomiting or dizziness.

Cluster: Cluster headaches occur daily and can last for several days, weeks or even longer, and usually occur at the same time of day. Cluster headaches are characterized by intense pain for a period of time each day, and can be debilitating while they are occurring.

Alternative Treatments

While we cannot recommend that you try any of these alternative treatment methods without consulting a physician, these suggestions might help you to identify some factors that will help alleviate headaches or migraines.

Supplements, Vitamins, and Herbs

There are several supplements, vitamins, and herbs that can help alleviate headache and migraine symptoms or pain. These include: Vitamin B12, B complex, magnesium, and melatonin. These supplements are typically taken as preventatives for headaches and migraines. The herb feverfew has also been known to help with headache pain, as well as bitterbur.


Daily exercise will benefit your body on a number of levels, but can also help prevent headaches and migraines by releasing endorphins within the body. Particular types of exercise, such as yoga, can be beneficial for stress reduction and relaxation as well as physical activity. Yoga uses positions and structured breathing, as well as meditation, to calm the body.


Getting enough sleep and hydration are both key for reducing the chances of getting a headache or migraine. However, even more important is diet. Dietary changes can help get rid of potentially triggering foods; such as chocolate, cheese, citrus, and red wine.


Having good posture is a difficult task for many of us, as we hunch over desks, computers, and chairs for much of our days. Making a conscious effort to improve your posture can help take pressure off of muscles in the neck and spine, reducing the chance of headaches or migraines. Reminding yourself to drop your shoulders and take deep breaths can help to alleviate tension that you may be holding without knowing.

Stress reduction and relaxation

Chronic stress can be a huge contributor to headaches and migraines, as it places the body under duress. Therefore, activities that reduce stress and promote relaxation will help to rid the body of stress and lower the chances of getting a severe headache or migraine.

Massage therapy can be very helpful to alleviate tension, increase blood flow, and release toxins. Aromatherapy can also be beneficial, which essential oils such as lavender, peppermint, and ginger helping to reduce stress. Acupuncture has also been known to help reduce pain by releasing endorphins in the body, which help to relieve stress and tension.

There are clearly many alternative treatments to painkillers and medication when it comes to alleviating and preventing headaches and migraines. Are there any that we have missed? What kind of alternative treatments do you use?

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