Alternative Treatments for Migraines and Headaches
Massage, and Acupuncture to Ease Migraine and Headache Symptoms
The 4 treatments listed below are considered complementary and alternative medicine treatments, which means that they're not part of mainstream medicine. Complementary treatments are used with traditional treatments (eg, prescription medications), while alternative treatments are used in place of traditional treatments.
More In-depth Migraine and Headache Treatment Articles
- Preventive Medications: Stopping Migraines Before They Start
- Exercise when You Have Chronic Migraines: Is It Possible?
Acupuncture for Migraines and Headaches
Acupuncture—an ancient Chinese technique—uses very fine needles (about as thin as a strand of hair) to help reduce the frequency and intensity of chronic migraines and/or headaches. These needles get inserted into specific points on your body to promote a healthy flow of Qi (also called Chi), which is your energy force.
The needles typically remain in your body for 20 to 40 minutes. You'll probably need to have regular acupuncture sessions to experience the most benefit, so work with an acupuncturist who you feel comfortable with and who has experience treating people who have chronic migraines and headaches.
Acupuncture may also be beneficial because experts think that because it can help release endorphins ("feel-good" hormones created by your brain), it can reduce your sensitivity to pain.
Biofeedback for Migraines and Headaches
With biofeedback, you learn how your body reacts to stress via a machine that can measure physical stress markers, such as heart rate and muscle tension.
By becoming more aware of how stress impacts your body and your pain, biofeedback teaches you how to control your body's natural reaction to stressors.
For example, if you're stressed because you're stuck in a traffic jam and you feel a migraine or tension headache coming on, you can use the techniques you learned in biofeedback to reduce your body's response to the stressor.
Massage for Migraines and Headaches
There are many of types of massage that can help you manage migraines and headaches. Your certified massage therapist will work to find the right massage for you.
He or she will focus on head, neck, shoulder, and upper back muscles to ease your pain and reduce other symptoms.
Regular massage is a safe and effective treatment for migraines and headaches: It promotes deep relaxation and can help decrease stress and head pain.
Supplements for Migraines and Headaches
The herbs and dietary supplements below may help reduce the severity or frequency of migraine and headache symptoms. But as always, check with your doctor before taking them because they may interact with other medications or supplements you're taking.
- Coenzyme Q10
- Feverfew and butterbur (but do not use these if you're pregnant)
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
Have a conversation with your doctor before trying any of these alternative treatments for migraines and/or headaches. You may need to include a combination of mainstream treatments and alternative treatments into your overall treatment plan for migraines and/or headaches.