There is a wide variety of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies for the treatment of migraine. These include physical therapies, medicinal herbs and teas, relaxation techniques and pharmacologic supplements. One recent survey of patients at an outpatient headache clinic showed that 85% had used alternative therapies for headache relief, and 60% felt the treatment had helped.
The following are some CAM therapies discussed recently in the journal Practical Pain Management:
Acupuncture – A popular and rapidly growing alternative medical therapy. One study evaluated the benefits of acupuncture compared with flunarizine (Sibelium), a prophylactic treatment that is not FDA approved in the U.S. Patients receiving acupuncture had a reduction in duration and times of headache attack, as well as fewer adverse reactions, and better outcomes 1 year later.
Feverfew – is a plant from the sunflower family, which has been used for hundreds of years in Europe as a treatment for headaches, fevers and arthritis. A randomized controlled study of 60 patients found that feverfew and ginger used during a migraine was more effective than placebo at reducing pain.
Lavender oil – May be beneficial due to it’s ability to relax patients, though no study has shown it to be effective in treating migraines. Other herbs including rosemary, lemon balm, cayenne and cilantro have all been proposed for treating migraines, however there is still little or no research on their effectiveness for migraines.
Yoga – A practice originally from India combines breathing exercises, physical postures and meditation to improve wellness. The few studies that have been completed on the effect of yoga on migraines have been positive. In a study of 72 patients with migraine without aura, 3 months of yoga caused a significant reduction in the participants’ headache frequency, intensity, pain rating, anxiety and depression scores. A pilot study on the effect of laughter yoga on chronic migraine reported a reduction in headache disability, fatigue and improved quality of life.
Meditation – Research has shown that the benefits of meditation go beyond relaxation. According to a study in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, spiritual meditation is effective in reducing migraine frequency, and anxiety, while increasing pain tolerance.
Capsicum annuum and zingiber officinale – Capsicum annuum is an extract from the chili pepper. Zingiber official is a homeopathic extract from the ginger root. The combination of the 2 are marketed as the non-prescription intranasal homeopathic preparation called Ausanil, which is used for acute abortive treatment of migraine. It is postulated that Ausanil desensitizes the branch of the trigeminal nerve supplying the nose……. Practical Pain Management July 2014