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Migraines and daily headaches...what helped you?

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I have frequent migraines and a generally constant daily headache (not exaggerating) and have for about 7 years. I have a high pain tolerance, but honestly I am just wearing out from these. For those of you who have had migraines or cluster headaches, what has helped?

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What has always helped me is getting off wheat and sugar. Whenever I slip up and go back on it, the horrible headaches and joint aches start up again. I've been off it this time since the end of Dec and haven't had headaches since about a week after I started. This is a relief because I used to get really debilitating ones. :)

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my friend struggles with this - to the point where few people believe him because he's had to learn to function through them since he has them so frequently. I believe you're not exaggerating ((hugs)).


He takes caffeine pills in the morning to try to head off and get through a work day. He takes Imitrex at night. He can only take meds for 8-12 months before they become ineffective. Then he moves to the next drug :(


Other than that he has to make sure he's eating regularly and sleeping well (quality over quantity). He's done a ton of studies, tried everything under the sun from supplements to accupuncture and more, gone to tons of specialists -- nothing. I hope you figure out what's causing yours, and hope to gleam good information from this thread for my friend, too.


PS - love your avatar :)

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For a period of about 2.5 years in my late 20's I had daily atypical migraines. Turned out they were caused by my birth control pill. It was a complete surprise, as I'd been on it for a few years before the headaches started. But they stopped cold turkey as soon as I went off them in order to try to conceive. Several years later, my progesterone IUD actually caused a mild recurrence of those headaches when it was first inserted, but they went away fairly quickly.


Obviously if you aren't already on hormones you cannot go off of them to try to solve the problem.

But a hormone balance issue might be something to explore anyway.

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There's a post about magnesium on the boards somewhere. I have migraines and my 18yo has nearly daily headaches. My dad had them and now the 12yo is starting. Do you have family history? I take Imitrex. Have you asked the MD about meds? (((HUGS))) It is miserable and when people look at you they can't believe how horrible they are because you're not bleeding and upright.

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Getting enough sleep helped me the most. Also I take Toradol and Reglan together at the first sign of headache. Ds gets them too, and for him regulating sleep helped some, but getting all the harsh chemicals out of the house helped more. We switched to natural, non toxic household cleansers and laundry detergent and bath products and everything else I could think of. He still gets headaches occasionally but nearly as often as he did before.

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After I switched from pop to coffee, I started getting constant headaches. After a little reading, I found out that non-organic coffee is filled with toxins and pesticides. After switching to organic, the headaches went away completely. Something to consider if you're a big coffee drinker.

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My dad had this all the while I was growing up. Very sad to see him miss so much of life. I just wanted to say that he just got out of the hospital yesterday. . . a stay that was caused from bleeding ulcers. . . which most of his doctors agree are caused by all the meds he took/takes for the headaches. I would just caution anyone that, if at all possible, you find a diet change, enviroment change (a lot of good things already mentioned) to help your headaches vs. drugs. Amazingly enough my dad will tell you that he felt best all around when he was off wheat and processed flour anything. He was like a different person, but it was easier to take the drugs :( he'll tell you now that the bleeding ulcers are worse than the headaches.

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Getting off wheat and sugar, adding plenty of natural fats, and taking a daily magnesium supplement (Natural Calm). I used the GAPS diet to help with my issues: constant headache for years, joint pain in hips, and weird low energy. I am now a poster child for GAPS! It is working miracles for us.

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Eating gluten free and chiropractic adjustments has helped to decrease but not eliminate my migraines. I also take magnesium supplements (when I remember) because this is supposed to help. Mine have a hormonal component to them so I would imagine that menopause is the cure.


I had a friend who had daily migraines which didn't respond to any of the typical prescription meds. She started on the Atkins diet to lose weight and they stopped. She determined that eating gluten gave her migrainese. It's worth a try for you.

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I have frequent migraines and a generally constant daily headache (not exaggerating) and have for about 7 years. I have a high pain tolerance, but honestly I am just wearing out from these. For those of you who have had migraines or cluster headaches, what has helped?


Ds8 gets migraines (about every 4-6 weeks he'll get 2 or 3) and chronic headaches. We took him to the ped. neurologist. For his chronic headaches, she had us take him off of all ibuprofin (he also has juvenile arthritis) and told us to switch to Aleve for any pain management. Ibuprofin can cause rebound headaches. She put him on an rx (something similar to benadryl)--he took it at night. We first saw her in September or October, and when we went back for his follow up in December we got the go ahead to wean him off the rx, and he now only has 2-3 headaches a week, and they go away with Aleve and don't come back. It's not a constant headache like he was having.

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I can't count the number of times I've been to the ER because of migraines. I actually used to get them so bad they make me throw up and I become dehydrated. I heard angels sing when I discovered a supplement called Migrasolve. They have discontinued it but it's just a daily dose of butterbur. BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD!! When I do start to get a migraine (which is rare now) there are only 2 things that seem to help. One is Tylenol PM (doesn't knock me out as I only take 1) and recently discovered to my surprise is Aleve. Aleve takes longer to kick in but seems to work pretty well. I also put Ben Gay on my forehead and temples. I feel for you. I hope you find some relief. :grouphug:

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I don't have them often enough anymore to offer personal advice.


I did just read that they are finding that white willow bark is more effective and longer lasting than most NSAIDS. It's also very gentle.


I also know a person who was able to lessen her migraines by taking iron.


Fish oil might work because it's an anti inflammatory.

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3 or 4 years ago, I was in the same posistion you are now in and it was awful! I had daily headaches and migraines weekly. It was almost debilitating. I am unable to take triptans, which are meds specifically for migraines, because they make me very ill, so my dr. treated me by controlling my pain. This usually entailed several ibuprophen followed be a hydrocodone-this left me in a funk/fog/hangover for one to two days AFTER the migraine. I was prone to depression because I often just felt HORRIBLE!! I had to change drs for insurance purposes, and my new dr told me I had just been putting on a big band-aid and not treating the problem itself. She was sending me to a neurologist but wanted to try two things first. She wanted me to try an anti-depressant used to treat chronic pain called nortriptyline, and then a beta-blocker if the other did not work. Well, it worked like a charm. I rarely had migraines, and although I still got headaches, it was not near as ofter nor were they as severe. After a year or two of this, I decided to get off of the meds. I began taking an herb called FEVERFEW and weened myself off of the anti-depressant. I am now 90% migraine free, and never get the horrible would rather shoot yourself in the head then feel that way kinda pain!! I do still get headaches, but they are treated with ibuprophen and/or aleve. If you go to iherb.com, you receive $5 off of your first order and I get a 6 month supply for about $13, I think. There are also ratings on this website-read the ones for FEVERFEW-there are many folks who have success with this. My life is so different now. I would go back to nortrityline in a heartbeat if the FEVERFEW ever quit helping me. It's kinda cheesy to say, but it really did give me my life back! HTH!! (too sleepy to spellcheck!! my apologies!)

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My doctor suggested that food might trigger my migraines. I did a super strict elimination diet.


My migraines are triggered by wheat, corn, tree nuts, soy, MSG and cinnamon. There is also something in chicken and pork.


Getting rid of these has almost eliminated my migraines except for accidental exposure. Also lots of migraine sufferers get rebound headaches an develop a daily headache syndrome from using pain relief even over the counter medicines like advil can lead to this if you use them too frequently.


Good luck.

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My daughter eliminated most of her migraines by avoiding yellow #5. Unfortunately, smoke seems to be her other trigger and she often can't avoid that in the fall.


If you have a trigger and you can figure out what it is, that may be your best bet.


Other people I know say red wine gives them migraines.


I have never figured out what my triggers are, but I get migraines so rarely it's not a huge issue (well, until I get one).

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Air fresheners can be major triggers. Febreze is the worst! My dr told me that some of these things contain chemicals that can cause slight swelling in the brain. My mil tries to sneak in Febreze when we go away, and I will get a severe migraine when we get back. Also, certain brands of scented candles can trigger a migraine for me. Finding and eliminating triggers can help a lot! I found it necessary to completely eliminate Imitrex and other similar meds. My headaches were increasing in frequency and severity from using these. It was a rough few weeks, but now I only get a mild migraine every month or so. I've been seeing an increase now that I'm in the midst of perimenopause, but it's a bearable migraine. I will probably try a beta blocker soon.

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OKay..... I have had a zillion migraines. What helped me? Calcuim! I take it 2-3x weekly, sometimes less and I haven't had one in a couple-few months.


Watch, because I said that, I'll get one! :glare:


The one I take is actually Calcium & Magniseum (now brand). Calcium is 1,000 mg, and the magnesium is 500 mg.


My Dr. told me calcuim is very helpful.



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You are all so wonderful to post. I appreciate it so much. Hopefully this thread and all the great info will be helpful to others. I am starting Feverfew, Magnesium, Calcium, Iron, CoQ10, B12, and a mega dose of B2 (at the advice of my neuro) but haven't been doing this long enough to tell. I hope something helps. It is taxing on your state of mind having these so often, but I do my best to keep a good attitude. Thanks again, and please keep posting your experiences.

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My bil had migraines for over 15 years. He had heavy duty medication for them. When he visited this Christmas he said he discovered they were due to dehydration! He said now as long as he drinks plenty of water he doesn't get them. If he feels one coming on he makes sure to drink several glasses of water.


Over the years he had seen many doctors, had many tests performed, and taken many medications!



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My husband could have written your post. Seriously. What we did was start an elimination diet. We looked at migraine triggers (google and find the TONS of lists!). And then we eliminated alot of those things. His headaches let up a bit. so we slowly started addding things back, and keeping a STRICT journal; What he ate at every meal, weather changes, exercise/schedule changes, etc. THEN we started mapping out when headaches happened. Hmmm, he ate ketchup 4X this week and had a migraines within 2 hours....chuck that one..etc


He takes zomig for migraines, and phrenalin for tension headaches. He also takes a daily allergy medicine, Claritan, I think.


we also made notes on WHERE the headache was, and how the pain felt; ice pick in temple, general ache in neck and up back of head, etc. Topamax works great for daily headaches. it is a seizure med. it is also an appetite suppresant ;) I can't remember why he didn't continue on it though. There are things out there for headaches. Pain management places, etc. We went to a neurologist who specialized in headaches. Honestly, in his words, 'Nothing suprises me as a migraine trigger'. Heck, for me, my CONTACT LENSES were a migraine trigger. :glare: (Journaling EVERY DETAIL brought that to light!)


HTH! :grouphug: :grouphug:

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Mine have a hormonal component--I am more likely to get headches sometimes than others.


I have been able to completely eliminate my headaches by avoiding ALL caffeine, chocolate and red wine. It took me a long time to figure this out because the headache did not always come right after consuming one of these things...but when I avoid them completely (not even decaf tea) I don't get headaches. GL...hope you figure out whatever is causing them.

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I have horrible headaches. Migraines a couple times a week, and often "normal" headaches on other days. I couldn't ever find a cause for mine, but they are exacerbated by a lack of sleep as a result of various sleep issues.


What helped me was Topamax. It was amazing. For an entire year I didn't have headaches. Then my insurance lapsed and we're back to headaches... :glare:

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Guest krutherf

I suffered from chronic daily migraines from age 12-20. As I got older they seemed to get worse and worse. By the age of 19 I had to take a medical leave from school they were so bad. I tried everything from prescription medications to botox to massage therapy, chinese medicine, acupuncture. You name it, I tried it. I even traveled to various doctors across the United States. Nothing seemed to work long term. Some medications would work for a little bit but it the migraine always came back. The only thing that provided relief from the bad ones was DHE. To get DHE treatment I had to stay in the hospital for 4-5 days. It would last for a little but they would always come back.


In 2008 I was referred to Dr. Ken Reed. He is based out of Dallas, Texas. He implants neurostimulators into the head (just right under the skin nothing invasive) that control chronic migraines. I had the surgery in 08 and I seriously got my life back. I still get migraines every once in a while (during that time of the month or when the weather changes) but now with the help of my stimulator I can take an advil and they are gone. I now sometimes go months without even a headache!


The technology of neurostimulation has been used in the spine since the 80's and now Dr. Reed is placing it under the skin in the forehead for migraine sufferers. I HIGHLY recommend checking out his website is : http://ascendantneuro.com. Watch the videos they are very helpful.

I wish the best of luck to you and hope that you are able to find some relief. Migraines can really take over your life and leave you quite hopeless.


God Bless!

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I used to get headaches far more frequently, but get them much less now. Magnesium has helped me INCREDIBLY.

I used to get 1-4 migraines per year also. Haven't had one in a very long while.


Long posts to follow. Sorry if the overwhelming advice by itself leads to yet another headache. That is NOT the intention. :lol:

Read it or do with it as you will when you don't have a headache. Hoping you find relief very soon. :grouphug:






Helps occasional headaches that can come with caffeine withdrawal

Magnesium helps eliminate peripheral nerve disturbances that can lead to migraines

There’s a strong correlation between migraines and hormonal fluctuations. Estrogen hormones (right before, during, or immediately after your period) can block the body’s absorption of magnesium, leading to low blood levels of this mineral.

A number of scientific studies found low levels of magnesium in people with migraines. Many women with monthly migraines have low blood levels of magnesium.

Found in:

Dark Chocolate

Sea vegetables (seaweed)






Wheat bran

Wheat germ



Brazil nuts





Brown rice



Collard greens





Dandelion greens



Whole Grains


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Helps occasional headaches that can come with caffeine withdrawal

Magnesium helps eliminate peripheral nerve disturbances that can lead to migraines

There’s a strong correlation between migraines and hormonal fluctuations. Estrogen hormones (right before, during, or immediately after your period) can block the body’s absorption of magnesium, leading to low blood levels of this mineral.

A number of scientific studies found low levels of magnesium in people with migraines. Many women with monthly migraines have low blood levels of magnesium.

Remember that the more calcium you take, the more magnesium you need. Try cutting back on calcium while you increase your magnesium and see how this change affects your migraines.

Take equal amounts of calcium and magnesium. For most people on a healthy diet, 500 mg of each supplement should be enough.

If you have symptoms of magnesium deficiency (see above) – if you’re feeling edgy, have muscle cramps, suffer insomnia, crave chocolate, or notice increased urination, adjust your calcium-magnesium ratio, so that you’re taking at least as much magnesium or—ideally—twice as much magnesium as calcium.

400-1200 mg daily of Magnesium is helpful but use according to bowel tolerance. Your body knows how much magnesium you can tolerate from bowel tolerance – take as much magnesium as your bowels can tolerate

Add 100 mg of magnesium to your nutritional supplements, and increase it by 100 mg every few days until your stools are soft, but not uncomfortably loose.

Take in divided doses and with meals to ensure optimal absorption – preferably more at night – and preferably not with calcium

Calcium, magnesium, and many other minerals are best absorbed when they are bound to an acidic carrier such as citrate, aspartate, picolinate, or amino acid chelate. Minerals need an acidic base to break down and get used.

The most absorbable forms are magnesium citrate, glycinate taurate, or aspartate, although magnesium bound to Kreb cycle chelates (malate, succinate, fumarate) are also good.

Avoid magnesium carbonate, oxide, sulfate, and gluconate. They are poorly absorbed (and the cheapest and most common forms found in supplements).

Side effects from too much magnesium include diarrhea, which can be avoided if you switch to magnesium glycinate.

Most minerals are best taken as a team with other minerals in a multi-mineral formula.

People with kidney disease or severe heart disease should take magnesium only under a doctor's supervision.

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Vitamin B2 - Riboflavin – 400 mg of this nerve-soothing vitamin daily could cut off your headaches in half within 3 months.


Teas made with relaxing herbs like chamomile or valerian help


Try supplementing with ginger.

520 mg daily to prevent headaches and 1040 mg to treat them

Solgar Ginger Root capsules



Headaches are a common symptom of a congested lymphatic system. Things that help to clear up the lymphatic system:

Daily Rebounding

• Deep Breathing

• Daily Dry Body Brushing

• Massage and/or Reflexology

• Swinging



Taking a hot bath with Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) is a good way to absorb and get much needed magnesium.


Tiger Balm - love this stuff :D


Dab a few drops of lavender essential oil on each temple and rub some around the hairline. Breathe deeply and relax. Repeat as needed.


Take a nap :)


Take middle finger and thumb of one hand, and grasp the webbing between thumb and forefinger on other hand, where you’ll probably feel a tender or sore point. Squeeze that point firmly for 40 seconds to one minute and then let go.


Stretch regularly to prevent tension headaches

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SLEEP - Get enough sleep. Your body needs a full night of quality sleep to fight pain. Sniffing lavender oil before sleep can help you. I seldom get enough sleep, so I'm not one to talk ...


CHIROPRACTIC/MASSAGE – both help immensely with pain

Be aware that you should wait for any inflammation to subside before starting either.


EXERCISE – Begin with a daily 10-minute walk, take up a gentle yoga class, or try the slow movement of Tai Chi. Water aerobics and swimming help also.

The more you exercise, the less likely you are to suffer from tension headaches.


YOGA - Many yoga poses and the regular practice of yoga help relieve headaches.


If you don’t have vision problems or difficulty speaking, and you get frequent headaches, you may be experiencing rebound headaches triggered by OTC pain-relieving drugs. When taken just 3 times weekly, aspirin, ibuprofen, and similar meds can actually blunt the brain’s natural pain-control mechanisms. This makes a person highly susceptible to repeat headaches.


You should take no more than 1,000,000 mg of ibuprofen over the course of your life or you risk liver problems.


When headache sufferers overuse pain meds, there’s often a rebound effect. Researchers suspect that the drugs may turn off the production of natural painkillers or lower your pain threshold.

Those containing caffeine, including Excedrin Migraine, are most likely to cause overuse headaches.

Track just about how many days a month you take headache medicine. If it adds up to 15 or more days, chances are the drugs are at fault.

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Feverfew – this herb treats migraine pain by interrupting its main cause: inflammatory reactions in your head that aggravate nerve endings and cause the blood vessels to expand. When taken daily, feverfew can prevent migraines as well as reduce their severity, duration, and frequency. Be patient. The results can take up to 6 weeks. If you stop taking it, your migraines might return.

500-600 mg of standardized feverfew daily – use a standardized extract or capsules with 0.2% parthenolide –some commercial products have been found to have little or no parthenolide

Take 2 equal portions on an empty stomach in the morning and evening.

Higher amounts – 1-2 grams – may be needed if you are having an attack



During a migraine, the tissue surrounding the brain becomes inflamed. Omega-3s reduce inflammation.

A good fish oil – such as Carlson’s - Take 4000-6000 mg of fish oil daily with meals for best absorption. After 8-12 weeks, if the migraines have stabilized, you can adjust the dose to 1000 mg per day.


Chia Seeds

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Melatonin - taken at night helps some. Low melatonin in our bodies has been linked to migraines.

Melatonin is a natural hormone that promotes sound sleep. It acts as an antioxidant. Early in life, the body produces an abundant supply, but as we age, production steadily declines.

Melatonin is helpful for more difficult insomnia.

It also acts as a powerful antioxidant; while it shuts the body down, it cleans the toxins and free radicals from cells. But we often do things that keep melatonin from being produced, and that can be deadly. When we stay up late at night or work night shifts, we keep our body from producing melatonin. This increases the risk of hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Studies show women night-shift workers have a 500% higher risk of breast cancer and male night shift workers have a 50% increased risk of colorectal and bone cancer. While not realizing it, many people increase this risk with inconsistent sleep/wake schedules - late night studying or partying or shift work schedules.

Melatonin, the antioxidant hormone that helps protect cells from DNA damage, is able to cross the blood-brain barrier, actually breaching the membrane designed to prevent toxins from entering your brain. Because it has been shown especially effective at preventing free radical damage to cell membranes (one of the prime targets of EMFs from cell phones etc.), I recommend taking 3 to 15 mg of melatonin (preferably in a time-release form) daily.

If melatonin is taken in the evenings, tumor growth may be slowed.

If you’re in the habit of having a late-night snack, a banana would be a good one as it can boost melatonin production.

• Start with 1 mg just before bedtime. Take 2 hours or less before bedtime. If this is not effective, gradually increase dosage. Melatonin dosages vary from individual to individual ~ and most do not need the highest dose. Ease into melatonin in increments.

• Use melatonin only occasionally. Do not take melatonin every single night

• Do not take melatonin during the day.

• When you awaken after melatonin-assisted sleep, you should feel refreshed – not tired or groggy. If you do experience grogginess, reduce the dosage.

• Do not give to children.

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Vitamin D3- 2000-5000 IU daily

Calcium and Vitamin D – A calcium deficiency can exacerbate migraine symptoms. Women often suffer from migraines more often than men because women are more prone to calcium deficiencies. Most experience low calcium levels during the premenstrual or ovulatory phase of the menstrual cycle.

Calcium carbonate is the worst absorbed form of calcium there is.

More calcium is absorbed from 500 mg of calcium citrate (an acidic form) than from 2,000 mg of calcium carbonate.

Calcium needs to be balanced with magnesium. Take twice as much magnesium as calcium.


Butterbur – Butterbur root is one of the best herbs to prevent migraines. Take 150 mg two to three times per day.

A good brand is Petadolex.

Make sure the label specifies that pyrrolizidine alkaloids have been removed.

Get ones with capsules free of Pas, compounds found in crude butterbur that are toxic to the liver.


Xiao yao wan – Migraines are often due to liver qi stagnation – when the liver doesn’t properly clean toxins from the body. This is a blend of plant roots, rhizomes, and mushrooms, believed to help cleanse the liver.


Chasteberry – Many women suffer from menstrual-induced migraines. If your progesterone level is too low in relation to estrogen, it can cause blood vessels in the brain to dilate, which is a known cause for migraines. Use the herb chasteberry as a tea or in concentrated herbal capsules to boost progesterone levels. This way you can try to affect hormone change without actually giving the hormone. Drink several cups of chasteberry tea per day and take 500 mg supplements every morning.


Co-Q10 – Two-thirds of volunteers who consumed 200 mg daily cut their migraine attacks in half.

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B6 helps prevent migraines

You don’t need to necessarily take B6 every single night. One way that I know if I have enough B6 or not – if I remember my dreams quite clearly, I don’t take B6 for the next few nights. If I don’t remember my dreams – I take B6.

Some people may need up to 250 mg or even special "active" B6 (pyridoxyl-5-phosphate) to achieve the greatest effect.

Doses higher than 500 mg may cause nerve injury and are not recommended.

Possible symptoms of an oversupply of B6 are night restlessness, numb feet, and twitching.

Vitamin B6 is called pyridoxine and it is metabolized through the liver. Pyridoxyl-5-phosphate, or P-5-P, is a co-enzyme form of B6. That is, it turns B6 in your body, and does so without going through your liver. So it’s easy to absorb and is well tolerated. Co-enzyme B vitamins are best absorbed. Look for Pyridoxyl-5-phosphate, or P-5-P on the label as an indicator of the form of the B vitamins it contains.

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Eat cherries as often as possible. Consuming 20 a day (about 2000 mg of cherry fruit extract) has been proven to provide more pain relief than aspirin and other painkillers.


Acupuncture helps with all sorts of pain. I love it. :)



What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Migraines by Dr. Alexander Mauskop



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Dilute a few drops of peppermint oil with olive oil and rub the mixture onto your temples.


A mix of peppermint and lavender oil. 2-3 drops of each rubbed into the temples, back of the neck and on your feet feels wonderful and really helps.


TYLENOL, ETC. - when really needed, of course

1 aspirin, 1 Tylenol and 1 ibuprofen taken with some caffeine will work on the majority of my migraines if they haven't progressed too far.....


Excedrin Migraine




2 Excedrin Migraine and a hot bath in a dark bathroom. Then quiet sleep.



0.025% or 0.075% cream 1-4 times daily


COLD COMPRESS on head, face, or throat will lessen the pain



If you regularly suffer from migraine pain (especially if you develop auras), be careful of heart attack or stroke.

If you have fewer than one migraine a month, you’re 50% more likely to have a heart attack than non-sufferers.

If migraines strike at least weekly, you have 3 times the risk of stroke, compared with those who don’t.

• Aim to keep your cardiovascular system as healthy as possible.

Control high cholesterol and obesity, via diet and exercise

• Quit smoking

• Limit alcohol intake

• Control blood pressure

• Try to avoid oral contraceptives – which has been found to add to stroke risk for women with migraines

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Finding and Curing the Causes of Your Migraines

Food Allergy/Bowel and Gut Imbalances


Brain fog


Irritable bowel syndrome

Joint or muscle pain

Postnasal drip and sinus congestion

and more


The testing: Check an IgG food allergy panel and also check a celiac panel because wheat and gluten are among the biggest causes of headaches and migraines. Stool testing and urine testing for yeast or bacterial imbalances that come from the gut can also be helpful.

The treatment: An elimination diet -- getting rid of gluten, dairy, eggs, and yeast -- is a good way to start. Corn can also be a common problem. Getting the gut healthy with enzymes, probiotics, and omega-3 fats is also important.


Chemical Triggers

The causes: A processed-food diet including aspartame, MSG (monosodium glutamate), nitrates (in deli meats), sulfites (found in wine, dried fruit, and food from salad bars) is to blame. Tyramine-containing foods like chocolate and cheese are also triggers.

The treatment: Get rid of additives, sweeteners, sulfites, and processed food. Eat a diet rich in whole foods and phytonutrients.


Hormonal Imbalances

The causes: Premenstrual syndrome with bloating, fluid retention, cravings, irritability, breast tenderness, menstrual cramps; use of an oral contraceptive pill or hormone replacement therapy; or even just being pre-menopausal, which leads to too much estrogen and not enough progesterone because of changes in ovulation.

The testing: Blood or saliva hormone testing looks for menopausal changes or too much estrogen.

The treatment: Eat a whole-foods, low-glycemic-load, high-phytonutrient diet with cruciferous vegetables. Use herbs such as Vitex, along with magnesium and B6. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and refined carbohydrates. Exercise and stress reduction also help.

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Magnesium Deficiency

Anything that feels tight or crampy like headaches





Sensitivity to loud noises

Muscle cramps or twitching



The testing: Check red blood cell magnesium levels. Even this can be normal in the face of total body deficiency, so treatment with magnesium based on the symptoms is the first choice.

The treatment: Magnesium glycinate, citrate, or aspartate in doses that relieve symptoms or until you get loose bowels. If you have kidney disease of any kind, do this only with a doctor's supervision.


Mitochondrial Imbalances


Muscle aching

Brain fog

Although sometimes the only symptom can be migraines


The testing: Checking urinary organic acids can be helpful to assess the function of the mitochondria and energy production.

The treatment: Taking 400 mg of riboflavin (B2) twice a day and 100 to 400 mg a day of coenzyme Q10 can be helpful, as can as other treatments to support the mitochondria.


Keep in mind that sometimes a combination of treatments is necessary. Other treatments can be helpful in selected cases, such as herbal therapies (like feverfew and butterbur), acupuncture, homeopathy, massage, and osteopathic treatment to fix structural problems.


KEEP A MIGRAINE DIARY for several months to help identify triggers. Track your diet, exercise, stress levels, and symptoms.

Some common culprits include chocolate, food additives, hormonal fluctuations, weather, and stress.

93% of people with migraines improve when they stop eating their trigger foods. Any food can cause a migraine, but some foods are more closely associated with them. Foods high in chemicals called amines – found in chocolate, aged cheeses, red wine, beer, dairy, nuts, citrus, and beans – commonly trigger migraines. It’s worth trying an elimination diet.

A migraine-provoking food could be something you eat in a large quantity, such as a glass of milk or some yogurt, or in small amounts like the dairy in ranch-style salad dressing. Food reactions are difficult to identify because an allergic reaction like a migraine doesn’t always occur right after you eat. It can take as long as 72 hours.

If you suspect a food, eliminate that food in all forms for at least 3 months. Then test it by eating it alone. If you have no reaction, you can try eating it again in small amounts. Don’t eat it more than once or twice a week, however. You don’t want that sensitivity to come back. In addition to the foods listed above, the foods found to be most likely to cause headaches are beef, yeast, and sugar (corn and cane).

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Keep your blood sugar stable by eating every 4-5 hours and get some protein at each meal.

Chromium Picolinate (see above)



Copper can trigger a migraine, especially if you have an abnormal copper metabolism or consume high quantities of this mineral.

Some alcoholic beverages, such as red wine, beer, and whiskey are distilled in cooper stills.

Some water supplies travel through copper pipes.

Foods naturally high in copper include: shellfish, wheat germ, chocolate, soy, and nuts.

Citrus increases your body’s absorption of this mineral.

Talk with your health care practitioner about getting a hair analysis or other assay of your copper levels.

Avoid eating too many of the above foods and beverages and make sure your multivitamin is free of copper.

When copper levels are too high, zinc levels tend to be too low. The result of this imbalance can be anything from fatigue to migraines. When you increase your zinc, copper levels come down.

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