If you've ever suffered from a migraine headache, you know they can be caused by any number of factors. That means there is no one-size-fits-all remedy. Therefore, keeping an open mind and exploring some alternative treatments could actually be the key to becoming migraine-free.
Fortunately, people seeking migraine relief have a wide range of treatments available to them, outside the realm of conventional medicine, that are proven to help reduce migraine frequency and severity.
As a doctor, I recommend trying these five alternative treatments to help keep your migraine at bay:
According to a review of 22 clinical trials studying more than 4,000 migraine sufferers, acupuncture was found to be as effective as medication—and sometimes even more effective than medication—for preventing migraines. Plus, it comes with fewer side effects.
2. Nutritional supplements
Although side effects are generally milder than those from prescription medications, remember that supplementing is not risk-free. Make sure to buy from a reliable source and talk to your doctor about dosages and possible interactions with other medications.
3. Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy
Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy (OMT), also known as Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, is a noninvasive, manual therapy that relieves tense muscles, tendons, and ligaments to allow the body to work more efficiently. A number of studies have shown that the hands-on techniques used in OMT, including massage, soft tissue and muscle stretching, and joint mobilization, are particularly effective for preventing migraines.
4. Trigger Point Therapy
Sometimes headache pain can be caused or worsened by trigger points or a strain or sprain located in the neck. If this is the case, trigger point injections can be very effective in relaxing tight areas in the neck and back and thus reducing the incidence and severity of migraines.
5. Craniosacral Therapy
By using a gentle "light-touch" to help release both emotional and physical imbalances that have been stored in the body's membranes and connective tissue, craniosacral therapy allows the body to relax. Practitioners trained in craniosacral therapy are able to feel and monitor changes in the body by placing their hands in the areas that are the source of dysfunction, following the body's cues as it works to release the tensions that are causing pain. Over time, this noninvasive touch can help decrease the symptoms of headaches and migraines.
When it comes to migraines, symptoms really vary for everyone—so prevention and treatment options may have mixed levels of success depending on your medical condition, history, and specific needs. Thinking outside the box when considering treatment options is the best approach when searching for relief from migraine symptoms.
Gary Kaplan, D.O. is the founder and medical director of the Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine and a founder of the Foundation for Total Recovery. He also authored the book Total Recovery. He graduated from the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery in Des Moines, Iowa and completed his residency training at Georgetown University/Providence Hospital’s Family Practice Residency Program. A pioneer and leader in the field of integrative medicine, Dr. Kaplan is one of only 19 physicians in the country to be board-certified in both family medicine and pain medicine. He created the Kaplan Center to offer patients suffering with chronic pain and illness a more effective model of medical care.