Those of us who suffer from migraines, we salute you. Even if you’ve only experienced one once, or very occasionally, it’s not an event easily forgotten. Blinding, debilitating, all-encompassing—it’s a specific kind of suffering, and has even the most holistic nature fans reaching for the hard drugs if it promises to deliver us from even a fraction of the pain.
You never know where you’ll be when a migraine strikes, but even if it’s your favorite place on earth, a migraine can turn it into your own personal hell. It’s best to stay one step ahead of migraines, or at least have some vices on hand to ease the pain. But how do you know what will induce a migraine before it happens?
Dr. Molly Rossknecht, neurologist and medical advisor to WeatherX, explains that migraine headaches have many triggers, including lack of sleep, stress, hormonal changes, allergies, and seasonal changes. “The change in seasons means a change in the weather, specifically drops in barometric pressure, but also temperature changes, high humidity, stormy weather, and dry conditions.” She even says that some studies suggest “ambient air pollution combined with higher temperatures can increase the frequency and severity of a migraine attack.”
If you live in a big city, like LA or NYC, this might sound inescapable. High-traffic areas have super high levels of ambient air pollution, especially the types Dr. Rossknecht mentions we should watch out for, which include carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. We aren’t asking you to move to Middle America or give up your city boss-mode for a slower pace on the ranch, but we are here to spread the awareness. If you know you’re going to be outside for a long time in the midst of a high-traffic zone, Dr. Rossknecht says that a face or surgical mask can provide some protection from these air pollutants.
Luckily, those are oddly having a chic moment, but they aren’t always practical. That’s why we’ve compiled some simple and natural remedies to help you stay ahead of your next attack, so that you can find some solace before it feels like your head is about to implode.
Acupuncture is great, and we definitely recommend it for all sorts of pains and concerns in the body. But in a pinch, like getting a migraine at your desk in the middle of the early afternoon or watching your child’s soccer game Saturday morning, you might need something a little less needle-y. Acupressure is easy and foolproof.
The point for headache and migraine pain is known as Union Valley, and it’s a highly accessible spot between your thumb and your index finger. Start by holding down or pinching the area firmly (not painfully, of course) for about 10 seconds. Make circular motions in each direction for 10 seconds at a time, and switch to your other hand. It’s good to do this at the onset of pain.
Aromatherapy is a powerful tool. Our olfactory senses are incredibly sensitive and tied directly to our emotional processing receptors in the brain, and they have a noticeable effect on our stress levels. Peppermint oil is not only refreshing and invigorating, but a great tool for creating a cooling effect when your brain is on fire. Dilute a little peppermint oil with some filtered water, and massage it in circular motions directly onto your temples for a little hit of “ahhh.” The menthol feeling of the mint will linger for a while, continuing to cool, relax your muscles, and detract from the pain of migraines and tension headaches.
Nitrates, sulfates, processed sugars, caffeine, and alcohol can exacerbate a headache and trigger migraines more often in those who are prone to them. We know we just named all your favorite things, but hear us out. At Poosh, we stand for everything in moderation. So instead of depriving yourself completely, just try to go for the junk as little as possible. There are plenty of deli meats without nitrates, plus beautiful, delicious natural wines with fewer or no added sulfites, and some really fantastic teas to ease you off your caffeine addiction if it’s contributing to unparalleled pain. Because preventative care is better than reaching for a vice when the migraine hits.
Many studies suggest that magnesium may be a great tool for migraine prevention. Some research has shown that magnesium levels in the brain are super low during a migraine. It’s a crucial mineral that many of us don’t get enough of in our food due to modern farming (that’s a whole other topic, don’t get us started), so nearly everyone can benefit from supplementing it daily. There are several forms of magnesium available, so talk to your doctor to see which one is best for you, as some forms can show side effects. Nothing serious, but certainly a little uncomfortable.
Ginger is a spicy, aromatic root with many healing properties. While you might think of it first and foremost for cold and flu, it’s also very powerful for fighting migraine pain. In fact, in this double-blind clinical trial, ginger was compared with a standard dose of a powerful migraine medication, and the results were exactly equal. The only catch is that ginger has zero unwanted side effects, which is not the case for the drug. Try mixing 1/8 teaspoon of powdered ginger in a mug of hot water and sip. You should notice a difference in about 20 minutes.
Stress reduction, breathwork, and exercise are all powerful practices to promote relaxation, strong muscles and tissues, detoxification, and healthy circulation, so yoga is the perfect practice to incorporate all of them. Make yoga a habit two to three times weekly in a class or short sessions at home to strengthen your body’s natural anti-migraine defenses and get your zen on. Side effects may include impressive flexibility and a fit bod.