What Are Some Good Alternatives to Prescription Medications for Migraines?

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April 11, 2022
May 15, 2021
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What Are Some Good Alternatives to Prescription Medications for Migraines?

Which non-medical treatments help migraine?

Many non-medical treatments can be effective for migraine prevention, and some can also even help when a migraine strikes.  

Vitamins

Some vitamin supplements are helpful for migraine prevention - these include magnesium oxide, riboflavin and CoQ-10.  A few other supplements can be helpful for other issues like insomnia that might trigger migraines, and some are helpful for non-migraine headaches.  Look here for more information on vitamins and migraine. 

Relaxation and Other Therapies

Starting a practice of some relaxation therapies have been shown to be very effective in preventing migraine - and you can utilize some of these practices in the throws of a migraine attack as well. 

  • Biofeedback is a guided meditation practice that has been shown to be almost as effective as some medications, especially for children and teenagers.
  • Mindfulness may be helpful as well, and if anxiety and depression are associated with your migraines, cognitive behavioral therapy might be right for you. 
  • Deep breathing exercises increase the response of the vagus nerve - the part of the nervous system in charge of rest and relaxation. This can decrease your sensitivity to the pain associated with migraine, and even shorten the attack. 

Aromatherapy

Some essential oils can be helpful when migraine attacks.  Peppermint and lavender oil are the two most recommended essential oils for migraine, and the act of breathing the scent in slowly can also help with relaxation. 

Devices

A number of devices have recently been developed to help migraine without the need of medication.  Some of these are helpful when migraine strikes, others can be helpful to prevent migraine attacks:

  • The Cefaly device is a transcutaneous nerve stimulator - it relaxes superficial nerves on the surface of the scalp.  There are a few settings that you can use: one can be used a few times per day to help prevent migraine, the other can be used to stop a migraine acutely.  This is available now without a prescription. 
  • The Gammacore device is an external vagus nerve stimulator - it increases the activity of the vagus nerve we talked about above, and by doing that increases the relaxation response of your nervous system. It is approved for cluster and migraine headaches. 
  • The Nerivio device is a remote neurostimulator - it is worn on the arm and it uses a specific stimulation frequency to decrease the brain’s pain sensory attention from the migraine attack.  It is approved for the acute treatment of migraines. 
  • The Allay Lamp is a green light that emits a specific frequency of light in the green spectrum that decreases light sensitivity.  Light sensitivity is a hallmark of migraine, and this lamp might allow you to still carry out many activities when you otherwise would be left in the dark. 

Do you want to learn more about migraine treatment options - both medical and non-medical? Sign up for Neura Health app and speak with our neurologists who can help you find the best option for your specific case.

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Thomas Berk, MD
Thomas Berk is Medical Director at Neura Health and a Clinical Assistant Professor at the Department of Neurology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine
About the Author
Dr. Thomas Berk is Medical Director of Neura Health and a neurologist and headache specialist based in New York City. He has over 12 years of clinical experience, having graduated from the NYU Grossman School of Medicine in 2010. He completed his neurology residency at NYU as well and is a board-certified headache specialist, having completed a headache fellowship at the Jefferson Headache Center. He is an emerging leader of the American Headache Society and has been on the Super Doctors list of rising stars for the past five years.

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