It's difficult to explain exactly how debilitating a migraine can be, and if you suffer from them, it can be tricky to predict when they're going to hit. One time I woke up in the middle of the night practically unable to move or think or function because I was in such severe pain. My then-boyfriend began frantically Googling "home migraine remedies" to try and find something to help ease the pain. Turns out there's a lot of conflicting information out there on the internet. (Shocker, right?)
After my migraine subsided, I sifted through the info out there in the hopes of being better prepared if/when it happens again. Here, 10 home migraine remedies that are backed by science and research.
Essential oils are kind of the Windex of the 2018 wellness world. But they really work for just about everything, including migraines. Promising research suggests that inhaling lavender essential oil can help manage migraine symptoms in the short term.
Peppermint essential oil is often touted as an effective migraine treatment, but a small study also found that applying 10% menthol—a compound found in peppermint—could actually be more effective at relieving pain, nausea, and light sensitivity.
There's plenty of anecdotal evidence that putting a cold compress on the back of your neck can help relieve the pain, and let me just say, when you're in the throes of a migraine, you'll try almost anything that has a shred of evidence. Luckily, this is also backed up by studies. This one found that migraine patients who put a frozen compress on their neck right when their migraine started helped reduce pain.
This supplement is great for easing anxiety and helping with better sleep (two factors that can influence migraines). But beyond that, supplementing with 300 to 400 milligrams of magnesium can help prevent migraines, especially for people who experience aura with their migraines or have menstrual-related migraines, according to the American Migraine Foundation.
Riboflavin, aka vitamin B, has been well-researched as a home migraine remedy. That's because riboflavin is thought to have strong neuroprotective properties, meaning it helps protect your nervous system. Studies suggest that daily supplementation with riboflavin can reduce the frequency of migraines.
In a small study of women with migraines, researchers found supplementation with ginkgo biloba to be an effective home migraine remedy. In the study, it was found to reduce not only the frequency of migraines with an aura but also the duration. And in a review of studies about ginko biloba's neurological benefits, researchers found that it was effective in helping with a variety of brain- and nervous system–related disorders including migraines.
Adopting stress-reducing practices has been shown to help with migraines. Meditation, in particular, can be extremely beneficial. One study found that when people with migraines meditated, it decreased their stress, depression, and the intensity of pain. Another study found that meditating actually reduced the frequency and duration of migraines among sufferers.
Keep a Food Diary
Certain foods can trigger migraines, and while there are a number of common triggers—alcohol, processed foods with MSG, and artificial sweeteners, for instance—there aren't any hard and fast rules of things to avoid. Keeping a food diary can help you track how your diet affects your migraines and allow you to avoid migraine-triggering foods.
Drink a Small Amount of Caffeine
Evidence suggests that small amounts of caffeine can improve the effectiveness of over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen. This study says that 130 milligrams of caffeine—about 10 ounces of coffee—is the optimal dose. However, caffeine dependency can actually cause migraines, so make sure it's not one of your triggers (see: food diary above) before adding it into your home migraine remedy arsenal.
Supplement With Coenzyme Q10
Coenzyme Q10 doesn't have the name recognition of some of the other home migraine remedies on this list, but it's a powerful antioxidant that comes recommended by the American Migraine Association. In studies, it has been shown to be effective in reducing the frequency and duration of migraines. You can get it in supplement form.