It's a traditional Chinese practice in which tiny needles are inserted at specific points in your body. Small studies suggest it can ease migraine pain and may lower the number of headaches, too.
Complementary therapies like this generally work best along with traditional treatments.
Your body responds to pain with physical changes like a faster heart rate, tensed muscles, or cold hands. In biofeedback, sensors measure these changes, and then feed the information to you as a blinking light or a tone you can hear.
You learn relaxation techniques to control your physical state. Biofeedback is often referred to as "mind over migraine," and studies show it can often reduce migraine pain and frequency.
This therapy hasn't been studied in depth, but early research is promising. One study showed that massage therapy lowered the number of headaches people got, though it didn't help with pain once a migraine got started.
Massage is also often used to ease stress, a common migraine trigger.
Research suggests that taking riboflavin (vitamin B2) might help you get migraines less often, though it doesn't seem to relieve pain during a headache. Coenzyme Q-10 may also lead to fewer migraines in adults and children, though it usually needs to be taken for several months to see a benefit.
Before you take a supplement, it's important to talk with your doctor to be sure it won't react badly with other medicines.
Because migraines are often triggered by stress, relaxation training may help. Some methods that often have good results include deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation, in which you tense and relax the muscles in different parts of your body.
With practice, relaxation training can help counter your body's response to stress and may prevent migraines.
Regular cardio exercise -- workouts that get your heart pumping -- may make migraines less severe or happen less often.
A Swedish study compared exercise with relaxation and a drug that prevents migraines. The cardio routine -- 40 minutes, three times a week -- worked as well as relaxation or medicine in reducing the level of pain and the frequency of migraines.
There's some controversy over whether this technique, also called getting "adjusted" by a chiropractor, can help with migraines. But one small study compared spinal manipulation against an effective drug treatment and found it worked just as well to prevent migraines.
There are some risks with spinal manipulation, so discuss it with your doctor before trying it.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which focuses on changing your thought patterns and actions, may help you have fewer migraines.
Getting talk therapy doesn't mean that you have emotional problems or that your migraines are imaginary. It helps people get a fresh approach to situations that may lead to headaches. It works especially well combined with other treatments to prevent migraines.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
TMS uses a device held against your scalp to send painless magnetic pulses into your brain.
If you have migraines with aura, or visual disturbances, TMS done during the aura phase may shorten the length of the migraine and make it less intense.
Some people find that certain foods trigger their migraines. Common ones include alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, canned foods, cured or processed meats, aged cheeses, cultured dairy, MSG, and aspartame.
Keep a food diary to help you remember what you ate before a migraine came on. Then cut out these foods one at a time to see if it helps with your headaches.
Feverfew may ease pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light during a migraine, as well as help you have fewer headaches, but the research is mixed.
Some studies show that an extract of the herb butterbur may help prevent migraines. But the herb itself is toxic, so only use a commercially prepared product.
Talk with your doctor about any herbal remedy you're thinking of trying. He'll let you know if it's safe for you.
Many people find that applying gentle pressure to the head, face, and neck during a migraine can help ease the pain. Techniques to try:
Press the brow line and under the eyes.
Rub the temples and jaw in a circular motion.
Massage the base of the skull with a tennis ball.
A variety of head wraps and bands claim to ease migraine pain. They're inexpensive and might be worth a try.
Studies show that poor sleep and migraines often go hand in hand, so changing some of your bedtime habits may help. Things to try:
Don't read, watch TV, or listen to music in bed.
Don't take naps.
Don't eat within 4 hours or drink within 2 hours of bedtime.
Good Habits Fight Migraines
Your lifestyle can have a big impact on how often you get your headaches. These tips can help:
Don't skip meals.
Get regular exercise.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Why Try a Complementary Treatment?
They may be a good option if you:
Aren't getting relief from prescribed treatments
Are having trouble with medicine side effects
Have a condition that prevents you from taking migraine medication
Simply don't want to take medication
Do Your Homework
If you're thinking of trying a complementary treatment for your migraines, your doctor can tell you if it works and if there are any risks. She can recommend an experienced practitioner of these therapies, too.
Your doctor can also make sure any supplements don't have a bad effect on your other medicines.
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.