July 27, 2010, - 2:03 pm

What Are Your Migraine (or Other) Headache Cures?

By Debbie Schlussel

I was out for most of yesterday and the early parts of today with a horrible migraine headache.  When I get these, I’m often incapacitated and tossing and turning in pain in bed in the dark.  Even the strongest of medicines don’t knock them out unless I hit it right at the beginning.  It’s very debilitating and frustrating because I have to drop everything.  That’s why I’m happy I only get these once in a while.  But this is the second one I’ve had in within two weeks.  This one is just going away now (hope I didn’t jinx it).

frownyface

What are your best cures (prescription and natural/homemade) for migraine headaches and other types of headaches? Will try almost anything (so long as it’s legal, ethical, and kosher). In the past, I’ve asked for your best remedies for colds and flu, and I tried some of them. Some of them seemed to work. So I’m asking for your advice again.

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77 Responses

Stay on the Zone Diet by Barry Sears (MIT PHd). You could be out of balance by too many carbs and not enough protein or not in the right proportion of protein carbs and fat.

As goes Israel - So goes the World on July 27, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Yes, watch the carbs and try acupuncture.

    mk750 on July 27, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    i was thinking similarly… i don’t get debilitating migraines, but i do notice that when i’m not eating well — processed foods and too much bready food — i do get a low-level headache.

    and when i eat right (most of the time); completely avoiding packaged / processed foods, little to no bready food, and concentrate on fresh fruit, fresh / cooked veggies, and protein, i feel like a million bucks and never have these low-level headaches or general funkiness.

    i hope you figure this one out, schlussel.

    howardroark43 on July 27, 2010 at 3:57 pm

First option would be prescription Sumatriptan and acupuncture by an Oriental acupuncturist.

ramjordan on July 27, 2010 at 2:21 pm

DEBBIE,

I know how debilitating they can be they ruin your whole day.
Prescription Zomig works wonders for me. You have to take it right as the migraine starts but it stops it right in it’s tracks. There are very few side effects to taking it. I don’t know what coffee you drink but I found once I switched coffee from Folgers to Melita they seemed to come less frequently.

I also found chiropractic care helped.

For the record I am a Democrat who reads your site. Though I don’t agree with you on many things I like reading you because you are intelectualy honest. I acan get a conservative view on issues and not feel like you have an agenda. You are also critical (like I am of Dems) of Repubs when it is warranted. I especialy enjoyed your exposing Hannity for the phony that he is. i always considered him to be Ailes useful idiot. He will say or do anything to advance the cause of repubs even if it is wrongh or immoral.

Keep up the good work

Jeffrey Chicola on July 27, 2010 at 2:25 pm

I won’t say that these are ideal cures, but sometimes they work for me. I tend to get tension, migraine, and dehydration headaches fairly regularly. Sometimes, I can’t tell which one it is bothering me the most. Dehydration is an easy fix, but if you don’t know for sure, you still want to take something to go with the extra water intake.

I prefer Goody powders with the Orange flavor essence. The originals are so bitter. To take an original would mean you felt like your head would explode and the taste wouldn’t make a difference. The combination of tylenol, aspirin, and caffeine seem to do the trick. Aspirin thins the blood slightly making it easier for the tylenol portion get to the pain faster. I usually feel some relief within about 15-20 minutes. Swallow the powder with 6-8 oz of water. Lay down with a cool water pack or cold wet washcloth over your eyes and let the medicine work.

Of course, don’t use if you are allergic to aspirin or you avoid caffeine due to increased heart rates.

It helps me too if I add some soft instrumental music playing low in the background. Concentrate on how you are breathing as you relax every muscle in your body. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. With each exhalation allow your shoulders, arms, back, hips, legs just feel as if they have completely given up and released all the tension they have been holding for you.

If the medication isn’t what you prefer, then at least the last part of using relaxation should help to ease some of the pain as a bonus treatment to go with your medicine of choice. I am notorious for tensing my upper body and not realizing I am doing it. When I force myself to let the muscles go down it’s then I realize how tense I really was.

I hope this can be helpful to you in some way. As a frequent headache sufferer I can truly say I feel your pain!

God Bless!

Kimberly Day on July 27, 2010 at 2:27 pm

I take Topamax 2x daily and haven’t had a true migraine in years! And stay away from chocolate.

Sange on July 27, 2010 at 2:32 pm

I mentioned Goody Powders above, but Excedrin Migraine has the same exact ingredients and work just as well. They are easier to swallow too!

Kimberly Day on July 27, 2010 at 2:39 pm

My remedy for headaches would be a cold shower and sleep. Sudafed helps a lot. Most of my headaches are gone by the time I wake up.

Feel better :-)

American Sabrah on July 27, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Dear Debbie: For the record, I’m not a doctor. Having said that, I will venture that I have a neurologist friend who says that all headaches are technically migraines. That’s not to minimize the intense pain I know you suffer, as I also occasionally have a very debilitating headache. (These tend to be when I’ve gone intentionally or unintentionally cold-turkey from my daily coffee fix.) But it might help you think differently about them.

If you’re a heavy coffee drinker, rein it in a bit. I make my own pretty strong brew first thing in the AM and indulge 3-4 cups. But then I’m done for the day. I don’t keep my bloodstream irrigated on a steady 20-hour-per-day coffee drip.

Before the full-day fasts I “caff down” gradually — over 5 or 6 days, by reducing intake — to hot water alone two days or one day before. For daytime fasts I eat breakfast before dawn. Did you caff down before tisha b’av?

I agree with the other commentators that sleep is important, as is not adding perhaps unwittingly to your caffeine quotient with chocolate, et al. ON TOP of coffee. I don’t know about the carbs question. Personally I like to avoid medications unless absolutely necessary. Make sure you have had a recent medical exam to rule out any organic causes before you follow any advice, of course, in my or others’ comments.

If I’m way off the mark on my advice, sorry, I’ve never been officially diagnosed with migraines per se. But I know I’ve gotten sick with blinding pain to the point of nausea on one or two Yom Kippurs — around Avodah — before I discovered the caffing down technique. That kind of pain doesn’t happen anymore. Maybe you could get relief by thinking about and moderating your routines — coffee; carbs; sleep; fasting; relaxation; exercise; regularity of meals — to even-out these things which affect metabolism.

You’re obviously also a high-strung, manic, constantly-thinking, detail-oriented person of high mental activity — I mean this all in a good way and with admiration for your writer’s persona — and this may all be an influence on your general equanimity. I don’t mean to wax mystical here, but your brain may just need a break if you push it too very hard, and forcing you into bed may be the only thing it can do to get your attention.

Hope some of this helps, refuah sheleimah.

Dernon Ruton on July 27, 2010 at 3:04 pm

According to my wife: Excedrine Migrane, first. If that does not work then prescription Imitrex (Spelling?) . After researching this and speaking to doctors, she has found that the cause of her migraines is a change in barometric pressure. Airplane flights, weather, and other things that cause a change in the barometric pressure effects her.
The tough part is finding a non-drug way to combat this.

Adam S on July 27, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Adam S

    YES! Excedrin Migraine. The secret ingredient is caffeine. It gets the meds into you FAST.

    I lived with migraines for 15 years. What stopped them? The Zone Diet. I didn’t have enough protein and too many unfavorable carbs. Most of the time I just wanted to DIE.

    In 2005, I discovered the Zone Diet. And Dr. Barry Sears is my hero. I love you, Dr. Sears. I tell him this often. His wife gets a big kick out of it.

    As goes Israel - So goes the World on July 27, 2010 at 3:28 pm

One more thing. I used to get frequent migranes. Then I contracted viral meningitis. Two plus weeks of the worst migrane I ever had. But since then, no migranes! Obviously, I am not suggesting you contract viral meningitis….

Adam S on July 27, 2010 at 3:10 pm

My head has to be cold for anything to have a chance of working. Dark room, fan blowing at my head, cold washcloth over eyes and at the back of neck (my Mom uses rubbing alcohol on her washcloth on the back of her neck, sometimes the smell is too much for me so I just use water.) Ice pack when I can deal with it. I start with Excedrin Migraine, and then move to my prescription Axert, but the Axert only works if I time it just right. I know what my triggers are and I’ve gotten pretty good at avoiding those migraines, but as I’ve gotten older, I get hormonal migraines specifically at certain points of the month, and they are getting worse and more frequent as I get older (and I don’t think I’m all that old! 43)

Lorena on July 27, 2010 at 3:11 pm

There is no cure, but I find Maxalt sometimes short circuits them. My neurologist had me do a diary for a month where I recorded what I ate and drank and any headaches or migraines.
I found that I had to stay away from wine, horseradish, MSG, sweet liqueurs. Good sleep patterns help. (It was also good for loosing weight!)
I’ve found that taking Omega 3s, a multivitamin, lysene, magnesium, and CoQ10 help. Taking the supplements and watching what I eat, I’m down to a migraine a month. It was the same results as Topomax without the side effects (no taste, swear I was retarded, hair loss).
Acupuncture helps too. I just need to find a new one who does electro-acupuncture, which is more effective.

RonL on July 27, 2010 at 3:12 pm

I think that on a long term basis getting enough sleep is important. I hope you feel better.

Little Al on July 27, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    You must have 8 hours of sleep to break a pain cycle.

    Fortunately, I control my headaches with Zone Diet :) Now, when I wake up in the middle of the night (I like it – not complaining), I get up and do shelter chores and watch old time programs like Sea Hunt and Highway Patrol. I am comforted that during some part of my life, things were sweet and simple. There was right and wrong.

    As goes Israel - So goes the World on July 27, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Amen!

    JeffE on July 27, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Very low dose LSD is reputed to give migraine relief lasting for months. No kidding.

Jason on July 27, 2010 at 3:34 pm

If you’re willing to consider something alternative, look into neuro-cranial restructuring (NCR). People with sinus and headache problems respond very favorably to this therapy. (My doctor’s office has a testimonial book filled with hand-written stories of these patients) I’ve had 2 series of treatments and it fixed my snoring and allowed me to fly without ear pain after 30 years. It’s powerful and, for many, life-changing.

Cindy on July 27, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Have heard that hormonal fluxes can trigger such headaches. Have also known people who get them from barometric triggers in the weather. Caffeine and foods containing it can help or worsen this and it varies person to person. I remember reading years back that a side effect of a pharmaceutical called Neurontin really helped people with headaches like you describe but it was only being provided “off label” and the pharama company got smacked around or something to that effect? Anyway – time, sleep, water. Hope it stays away.

Curiouser on July 27, 2010 at 3:39 pm

I don’t smoke marijuana but if I had these intense migraines then I would consider smoking pot. However if it is against your religious or moral beliefs then I understand you wouldn’t consider this. I know people who have genuinelyhave been helped. Although I know ten times as many people who will lie to get high. I know you probably have been advised about this before. Just saying.

Whatever you do don’t take oxycontin or vicadin. Best of health.

CaliforniaScreaming on July 27, 2010 at 3:43 pm

A friend I know had terrible migraines, and his neurologist said that migraines are a form of increased focused brain neural activity, resembling a seizure, and so, anti-seizure meds work to prevent them.

(Topamax is the one he’s on, and the migraines stopped, but ask a neurologist, as it’s by prescription only.)

exdemexlib on July 27, 2010 at 3:57 pm

if i were in michigan, i’d make you some of my ginormous meatballs… probably wouldn’t make a dent in your migraine but they sure do taste good.

hang in there, schlussie!

howardroark43 on July 27, 2010 at 4:03 pm

My doctor prescribes Midrin for my migraine headaches. The dosing instructions say to take 2 at the onset of the migraine and 1 every so often after that.

It works for me.

Rocky on July 27, 2010 at 4:48 pm

I like to drink teas for my headaches. In particular Hibiscus Tea. Hibiscus is good for release of hyper-tension, good for your heart, cardiovascular and such.
here is a link for ya about tea
http://www.teabenefits.com/tea-remedies/tea-for-headaches.html

jingo go go on July 27, 2010 at 4:59 pm

I guess I’m old fashioned – I use Fioricet (yes, it is a prescription medication – containing tylenol, a mild sedative & caffeine). Too much coffee sets off my headaches. But I love coffee. Some folks find Topamax helpful but it has some side effects (some call it “Stupidmax” for its effect on memory. One friend says “I took Topamax but then I couldn’t remember to take it again” – also it can lead to weight loss!).

Cat K on July 27, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Debbie you won’t let me comment on Facebook, but since I am a daily migraine sufferer I am taking rachmunus on you. I go to Jefferson Headache Center. You need to order Petadolex on the internet. It must be from Germany and in a gel form. You take 3 50 mg pills each day any way you want .ie all at once one with each meal etc. Don’t forget to take any. It is the herb butterbur. it actually says on the labelfor brain health. If you want to know more about this you amy email me. andrea

Andrea Hershman on July 27, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Acupuncture is known to help relieve migraines. In addition, plenty of rest and nutritional unprocessed foods should do the trick. Also, sometimes the stress of your terrific work, which I am sure could be quite aggravating as you uncover all the corruption that is going on all over the world, can cause these symptoms, so when this happens take a brief break, and do something relaxing, like yoga, walk on the beach, dancing to great music, meditate or just watch something hysterically funny that can make you feel wonderfully calm and peaceful!
Feel better soon!

rebecca on July 27, 2010 at 6:35 pm

I experienced a similar bad headache once and discovered a quick cure, although its soothing effects are not long lasting. It starts by stubbing one’s toe on something hard, preferably in the dark. All the pain that was in one’s head will quickly rush to the traumatized foot. Secondary pressure is also released from the head as profanity is expelled from the oral cavity. Next submerge the sore foot in cold water for 20 minutes. This treatment works well because it’s better than submerging one’s head in cold water for 20 minutes. I hope this helps. For more quick tip for pain relief visit my web-site http://www.Geedathurts.gov

Globe Warmer on July 27, 2010 at 6:43 pm

For about a decade, I got migraines – really bad ones, where I had to lay in the dark perfectly still for hours and after it was over, I felt like I had just gotten over the flu. I took prescription Relpax – as soon as I could tell one was coming on – and called it a day. I still get them once in a while, but since then I have learned that they were caused by hormonal fluctuations starting in my mid-30s. Although, that knowledge and a nickel will get you a nickel. I also noticed that going to a chiropractor greatly reduced the frequency of my migraines. When he moved out of state, I never did find another one and sure enough, the migraines reared their ugly head more often. Hope you find relief somehow!

LRL on July 27, 2010 at 6:43 pm

http://www.naturalcalm.ca/

Read about this product.

Jacques on July 27, 2010 at 6:47 pm

I have never experienced a migraine before, but I hear that they are awful. I hope that you feel better soon! Hopefully you will find something that works for you if this happens again!

Angela04 on July 27, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Pilsner beer works for me. Sometimes after I get off work I get bad headaches and after 2-3 pilsner beers, the pain seems to go away. Given the fact that they recommend 2 drinks a day for good health, I think I am within limits.

Gino on July 27, 2010 at 7:31 pm

“D”…Adam S is onto something with barometric pressure- it can induce headaches. However, I believe your condition is related to hormones more than anything.

My wife used to get blistering Jeckyll-Hyde like migraines, until she was beyond menopause(around 50), then the headaches just truncated.

I turned her onto “Black Cohosh” supplements which lessened the severity of the headaches. You can buy them at any pharmacy.(Research it and see if it’s for you.)

In the meantime, your audience offered you some good suggestions: cool dark rooms and excedrin migraines. Good luck!

patrick on July 27, 2010 at 8:29 pm

I used to get ‘em bad. The only thing to do is curl up in fetal position absolutely still, even my heartbeat caused excruciating pain. No aged cheese or red wine cured mine.

Quorum on July 27, 2010 at 8:31 pm

It might also be worth a visit to a good registered dietician, to see if changes in diet could help long-term in prevention.

Little Al on July 27, 2010 at 8:51 pm

And it is important to make sure this person is a registered dietician; some categories such as nutritionists are not regulated.

Little Al on July 27, 2010 at 8:52 pm

Have you been undergoing a great deal of stress lately?

Worry01 on July 27, 2010 at 9:18 pm

I find this worrisome. Medicine is not an exact science. These kinds of headaches could have multiple causes and while some of the suggestions noted above may in fact be helpful, my strong sense is that it would be wisest to assume the worst possible case: if you can get an MRI (I’m presuming you have never had one or have not had one in a while), then please do so as soon as possible and work from there.
This is not good. Something has changed. You need to find out what without hesitation.

J'Kel on July 27, 2010 at 10:53 pm

I get migraines… bad! Two things I have found that have helped me immensely is getting a BOTOX shot every 3-4 months (I never have a migraine for three months due to the shot) and following the book “Eat to Live” by Dr. Joel Fuhrman (this reduced my migraines to once every 1 – 1 1/2 months if you don’t do the BOTOX). If I get a headache (not a migraine), I will take Excedrin migraine (as mentioned in an earlier post). If you get migraines bad, I would recommend BOTOX. I was skeptical at first until I had one. Now, I will not skip a Botox session.

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krisshan kant sundriyal on July 27, 2010 at 11:02 pm

As someone stated earlier, sometimes migraines can be caused by medical conditions. I have migraines due to Arnold-Chiari Malformation (ACM-I) and a friend has them due to Arteriovenous malformation (AVM). We both are on meds to manage it.

Sange on July 28, 2010 at 12:05 am

    I would suggest chiropractic and/or acupuncture as a better management system. ACM-I is a deformity in the skull where the spinal column enters it. Surgery works but is risky. Meds do nothing but mask the pain. Teh malformation will always be there without the surgery but keeping your head screwed on straight via chiropractic manipulation will minimize the pressure on the brainstem. Acupuncture will also help block the pain and it non-toxic as are so many drugs.

    mk750 on July 28, 2010 at 7:36 am

I had debilitating migraines during my pregnancy and found that an ice pack on the head helped even in the absence of pain medication. Avoid monosodium glutamate also. I’m only speaking from my own experience, but I think it can be a trigger.

jkl on July 28, 2010 at 1:54 am

Go get your eyes checked…

I know that for the past 6-8 years my eyes were compensating for vision changes…and as each year went by the periodic headaches got worse and more frequent.

Finally 4 months ago, I went in for an eye exam. Had very noticeable vision problem…got a prescription and new glasses.

Made a helluva difference…to the point where now I’m so used to my glasses that if I take them off for anything other than sleep – I’m quickly putting them back on.

…and no more 1-2 times per week headaches that run an hour or two.

=8-)

mrrabbit on July 28, 2010 at 4:20 am

Well, I am a “go to the dr’s at last resort” person…but call them and schedule some tests for good precautionary measure.

Taking pain pills on a long term basis wrecks the liver, kidneys and gives tinnititus. Bad spelling, sorry. ringing in the ears.

But to knock it out see if you can get some anti convulsants, they numb the brain so to speak. Yeah, I know…but it could work.

It could be the heat doing this? kick up the a/c?

Get better rest up, excuse the spelling, up late working….

L on July 28, 2010 at 4:48 am

Try getting a cooling pillow for the neck…I heard that might help. get better and rest, take some time off from any stressors

L on July 28, 2010 at 4:55 am

Aspirin (BC or Goodies powder) at the onset. If it progresses further I take a hot, steamy shower combined with mental relaxation techniques. Alternating between hot and cold shower water has also worked…

I think that I have discovered that at least sometimes my “migraines” aka sick headaches are connected to caffeine withdrawals. Other times I’m not sure why, probably diet related.

Darin on July 28, 2010 at 7:33 am

While I have been lucky enough to never have had one, my wife has had migraines since a car accident in the late 80′s. Torodol and Phenergan have almost always helped her. Torodol is an anti-inflamatory (NOT a narcotic so doctors like to give it) and the Phenergan will get rid of the quesiness and vomiting (keeping the Torodol down) and puts you to sleep for a couple hours. It works for her, hope it helps you. Good luck hun.

Bullet on July 28, 2010 at 7:47 am

I used to get migraines as a kid, that were horrible and couldnt play outside. Mom even took me to have a brain wave test in Brooklyn. I finally figured out why I had migraines myself. I was born and raised in California, Mom moved us to New York when I was 9 and during that time the headaches were in full force there. Lots of things attributed to those headaches, but most of it was allergies. Now that I live in the south the humidity and pine trees are killer on my allergies as well as my sons.(Now I dont know if you have any sort of allergies) Ive had two massive migraines in the last week and those are the first in a long time. I know they are coming and didnt stop them ahead of time. Saline spray I use for the nasal congestion, even if I am breathing well. I have one son that gets the same headaches due to allergies. My spinal alignment also effects my headaches. I do like seeing the chiro when its bad. So in a nutshell my remedies are prevention. Saline spray (its just salt water and inexpensive) and stay hydrated and ibuprofen on the onset, when its bad enough to go to bed with the lights out, its the finding the right position to hold my head,(its a fetal position almost I guess we know why, the pain). Oh and stress can cause mine as well because my neck tightens to knots and I do have a chiropractor that saves me money and doesnt ask me to see me again in three days unless its bad. He says call me when you need it. I havent seen the chiropractor in 2 yrs.

signing off truly hoping one of the ones offered here helps
Ha-v-v

Ha-v-v on July 28, 2010 at 8:04 am

I used to go out with a girl who had pretty bad migraines. If her pills were not working and she was really desperate sex was the only thing that would work.

Barry on July 28, 2010 at 8:58 am

Debbie–
Try high-flow oxygen. It works on some migraine and cluster headaches, but not in every case. However, it is completely natural and absolutely not harmful.

Anthony on July 28, 2010 at 9:05 am

the muslims’ have a foolproof cure for headaches… and you only need to use the cure once…

howardroark43 on July 28, 2010 at 10:41 am

Three Excedrine works for me. It helps to try to take them before the migraine takes hold.

Janice Watson on July 28, 2010 at 10:53 am

Migrane triggers for me:
eye strain (terrible when I was a kid!)
constipation
caffeine withdrawal on fast days
barometric pressure

So:
get your eyes examined
keep regular
cut back on coffee
make sure your sinuses are clear

I used to take Coricidin until they removed the phenylpropanolamine and now it doesn’t work for me.

Dark room and a few hours of sleep.

Refuah shleima

SoCal Mother on July 28, 2010 at 10:58 am

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