Manage Migraines Without The Meds

Migraine treatment without medicines? Sounds impossible, but isn’t. All it takes is dedication and resolve – read my story!

Before I got pregnant (about seven years ago), I was a regular migraine victim. I would have crippling bouts – each lasting 2-3 days with no respite.  I was prescribed Vasograin by my doctor and was advised to take two tablets at the onset of the migraine attack, after which I was supposed to lie down in a dark and silent room. With a 9-to-infinity job that I had at that time, which involved being around celebrities who thought the very world of themselves and bosses who wanted what they wanted, when they wanted, there was no chance of me getting any silence around me, let alone darkness.

So for years, I suffered with no end in sight. I got pregnant with my firstborn in 2010 and my first question to my wonderful ob/gyn was, what do I do about my migraines. Her answer was simple, learn to control them without medications., I could have altered my medication, switching to a relatively low-dose, safe drug, but frankly I took it as a challenge: To go off the medicines and control the migraine with any and all home remedies I could find.

So here are my self-tried, tested and trusted tips. I hope they could help some people find relief, even if it's to a small degree.

Step 1: Find The Trigger

It’s the first statement you’ll hear from a doctor or from any other migraine sufferer – find out what triggers the attack. For many it’s an olfactory reason, for others it’s about digestion and for still another, it’s about photosensitivity. The easiest way to find out what makes you prone to an attack is to keep a small notebook t and – the moment you feel an attack coming on -- note down what you have eaten, drunk, smelt in the past 2-3 hours, and where have you been – indoors, outdoors, temperature, etc. Keep noting this information down for the next 5-10 migraine episodes and you’ll end up finding the common culprit behind it all.

Step 2: Avoid The Trigger, Or Find A Way Around It

Not all triggers are avoidable. You can’t stop odors from reaching your nose, or the sun from shining in your eyes. My triggers were coffee, not having breakfast on time and my period. The period problem went away during my pregnancy (and what a wonderful thing that was!) and I switched from instant coffee to filter – that solved my coffee problem. And finally, not having breakfast on time also got resolved when I was pregnant – I would wake up starving, and the first thing I needed was food. From then it was a simple matter of following this routine even after pregnancy – an early breakfast and filter coffee. As for my period, I went (and am) on a low-dose oral contraceptive; this seems to have stopped my period-related migraines, too.

Step 3: If An Attack Has Been Triggered, Hit-And-Miss To An Eventual Solution

This doesn’t mean that I have not suffered a migraine attack since 2010! But they are few and far between. So what do I do when I get to know that a migraine is just around the corner…

  1. Massage my head with a little hair oil (the Indian in me!) and then shampoo off with ambient water (cold water in summers,moderately warm water in winters).
  2. Drink something minty – mostly I go for an Ayurvedic medicine by Dabur India, Pudin Hara – which is a minty-based digestive concoction that you have to take diluted with water. The smell alone makes me feel better. If I have some mint leaves at hand, I crush a few and keep smelling them at intervals.
  3. Tiger Balm is a savior when it comes to migraines – there’s a strange cinnamon smell to it that soothes my migraine-stressed nerves. Apply all over forehead, temples and at the nape of your neck for best results.
  4. While dark and silent rooms aren’t really possible when it comes to being the mother of two rambunctious boys aged 6 and 4 – I still try and get at least 20 minutes of utter and complete rest -- longer if my husband is at home.
  5. When all else fails, I switch on some soothing mantra music (Times Music has some great options) and meditate. There are two ways I can manage to put myself into a soothing trance. One is to concentrate on my inner third eye – a chakra point right in the middle of your eyebrows. Tap this point gently once with your finger with eyes closed and you’ll start to feel a gentle resonation from it. It’s easy to then concentrate on this point and let yourself be sucked into the existence of just this point. On the flipside, sometimes this can exacerbate a headache. Another technique is to sit in a chair and slowly try and relax into it completely. The floor takes up the weight of your feet, the chair takes the weight of your torso through the pelvis. Start consciously relaxing each limb, each body part till you feel weightless – your chair is in God’s hands – you are weightless… Breathe in and out, slowly and gently – letting your thoughts flow naturally. Rouse yourself from this trance in 10-15 minutes and you’ll find the pain has lessened, if not completely vanished.

So these are the tips and tricks that have worked for me, and still help me stave off an attack in the first place. If you have remedies to share with us, please do write them in the comments section below…