Alternative Medicine for Migraines
A Quest for Migraine-Free Living

Finding the alternative medicine for migraines that work for you can be tricky. And there are more alternative options available than ever before in history. I mean there are: bio-identical hormones and progesterone cream, Botox, melatonin, supplements, etc. So take action now to help this work in your favor. 

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I think I have tried every alternative medication that has come into my awareness, and then some.

Just like traditionally prescribed medications we must treat the more natural alternatives with the same respect and caution.

After all, the patented drugs were derived from natural substances originally.

The man made version is called synthetic and in most cases the active component of the plant has been isolated in order to target a specific reaction to be created in our body. The same reactions are created from natural herbs and medicines.

I guess I can't say much more than please use caution.

Educate yourself on what you are taking and make sure your alternative specialist also knows about treating migraines.

With tests and monitoring procedures they can help guide you through your quest for migraine free living. Or at the very least a reduction in pain and or symptoms, so you can live well despite having chronic migraines.

ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE FOR MIGRAINES DISCLAIMER

All alternative medicines for migraines can have potent effects and side effects. They should only be used following the advice of your physician or healthcare professional – and even then – be aware, cautious and know the dose suited for you.

I do not take responsibility for any consequences you might experience from the use of the alternative medicines listed below. The list is for information and education only. It is not for self medicating purposes.

Let me tell you about what alternative medicine for migraines are available now. 

Bio-identical Hormones

Alternative Medicine for Migraines

Bio-identical hormones are being prescribed as an alternative medicine for migraines. Your hormones can be tested by either a blood test or a saliva test. The jury is out on which one is more effective. My vote goes to saliva.

Migraines can be caused by hormone fluctuations that occur when levels of estrogen are not in the right ratio in relation to the required levels of progesterone. The two work together. Normally progesterone levels lower whilst the body has its menstrual cycle and rises up again after the cycle is finished.

I was on several different hormones for over ten years: compounded Estradiol, then Tri-est, Progesterone and Testosterone. Oral tablets: Pregnenolone and DHEA 5mgs.

I have also tried: Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus), Kava, Melatonin, Saw Palmetto, Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) and Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis), just to name a few other herbal options.

Does this list sound familiar? 

I was told then that the blood tests were not reliable enough, so my doctor used the more expensive route with saliva testing every 6 months or so, until we found the right ratio for balancing my DHEA, estrogen and progesterone.

Even though the doctor found my results improved (slowly), the migraine attacks persisted. Don't let my results discourage you. Many migraine sufferers, and I mean many, have very good results from using bio-identical hormones.

Most of the studies I have researched all show a significant reduction of frequency and severity.

Balancing Hormone Deficiencies

Any hormone deficiency will set the whole system off balance. In this case, supplementation should provide significant improvement in migraine symptoms and in overall feelings of well being.

I found that progesterone cream really calmed me down. I took extra amounts, as specified by my doctor, prior to an attack. I am sad to say it only worked for a month or so, and then my cycle of 20 days each month returned.

Looking back, I would recommend seeing a physician who is a hormone specialist. It is very possible that my doctor with a special interest in hormones was not actually the best person for me to see.

So – my advice is - find a doctor who specializes in migraines and hormones. Some pharmacists and naturopaths also do saliva bio-identical hormone testing, but if you can find a doctor that does both that would be the best choice.

Alternative Medicine for Migraines Test  Results

They may request these blood tests:

Cholesterol Panel; Cortisol; Metabolic Panel (CBC); Pregnenolone; Testosterone, free and total; Homocystine; T3 (they may also look at REV T3); T4; TSH; DHEA sulfate or DHEAs; Estradiol; Total Estrogen's; and Progesterone.


The Controversy Around This Alternative Medicine for Migraines

Some physicians disagree with the new aged ‘bio-identical’ compounding pharmacies and the expenses associated with them, especially when other forms of bio-identical hormones are available from a normal pharmacy at a lesser expense.

Choosing alternative medicines for migraine can be confusing

Dr. Hutchinson writes about this at migraine.com and it's a wonderful reminder about who you see as your primary health care provider. She recommends using an estradiol patch like the Vivelle dot or Climara, both known for their good results. Both of these are also considered bio-identical products.

Estradiol now comes in many delivery forms: sprays, patches, insertable pellets, gels and lotions.

There are so many progesterone products and creams available online, at any pharmacy or health food store. We have to be careful that we are actually getting the right product. For example wild yam cream, which is marketed as natural progesterone, is just not the same as bio-identical hormone cream. 

Dr. Hutchinson uses a product called Prometrium which is micronized natural progesterone. She, and many others, steers away from the product Premarin which is made form pregnant horses urine. Doctor Hutchinson has wonderful results with Prometrium, which is available in most pharmacies in 100 and 200mg doses.

In some cases, she will use compounded tri-estrogen, or bi-estrogen and progesterone for her patients with migraine. As we know, everyone is a unique case. Dr. Uzzi Reiss' book Natural Hormone Balance for Women is a good book (e-book) to read on all of this.

I just wanted you to know all the options I could find for alternative medicine for migraines so you can make your own choice about how to proceed.

The tradesman is only as good as his tools!

So there is much to consider if you think balancing your hormones might stop your migraines. Finding the right alternative medicine for migraines, as I have said, can be trial and error.

But once you find what works, then it's migraine free smooth sailing!

Botulinum Toxin A (Botox) Injections

Since October 2010, Botox has been approved by the FDA as a migraine treatment. It is now one of the most widely used alternative medicine for migraines.

It was originally used to treat wrinkles and muscle spasms. Now it is officially used for chronic daily headaches that are over 15 days per month. It is only used for chronic conditions.

This drug is injected into muscles at the sites of pain in the neck, face, and head in doses up to 100 units every 3 – 4 months.

Some of the more common side effects are: aching, bleeding or itching at the injection site, mild pain, and there is a potential for increased headaches. The most obvious side effects are a drooping eyelid and dry mouth.

I wrote specific posts for these: Botox for migraine headaches and Botox injection for migraine.

More Alternatives - Melatonin

Used for: insomnia and sleep disturbances and with patients who are woken up with headaches, especially cluster headaches. The dose used is normally 10 to 15 mgs at bedtime. There is no published data available on the use of melatonin with migraine at the time of this post.

Personally, my doctor has had more effective results with micronized melatonin. I would not recommend any homeopathic versions for migraine treatment.

Common side effects: nightmares and difficulty sleeping for the first 2-3 nights of use. Less grey hair! Feeling refreshed from a good nights sleep.

Minerals

Magnesium oxide (*note: will most likely cause diarrhea - so I don't recommend this type of magnesium)

Magnesium diglycinate (chelated or glycinate)

Magnesium chloride slow release

Used for: fibromyalgia, muscle spasms and helpful for decreasing many types of pain syndromes including migraine. Magnesium has also been found to decrease nerve pain (Teitelbaum, 2010). It is most beneficial if used alone in a dose from 250 – 750 mgs. The most common dose for migraine sufferers is 400mgs in divided doses, so 200mgs twice a day - morning and night.

You can also try magnesium push injections under the direction of your physician. They are recommended at the onset of a migraine, the earliest warning signal, to abort the attack. I had these for 18 months, weekly, and although I felt amazing and full of energy, they had no effect on my migraines.

Common side effects: diarrhea from the supplements, and fainting and hot flushes during the injections. Feeling more energetic and reduced muscle pain.

Vitamins and Herbal Medicine

Alternative Medicine for Migraines Leaf

Riboflavin – Vitamin B2

Feverfew

Butterbur

White Willow Bark


Used for: headaches and migraines.

Allow two weeks to five months to notice effects of the vitamins and herbs. The white willow bark is what aspirin is made from, so you should have effects within 20 minutes. Aspirin does not even touch the side of my migraine pain.

I took B2 for 18 months, 200 mgs twice a day until my skin turned orange! I was allergic to Feverfew, sadly. I took butterbur for 2 years and am happy to report that it reduced the frequency and intensity for at least 18 months.

These are widely used alternative medicine for migraines with good success rates, and I think they are definitely worth a try.

Common side effects: urine discoloration.

I can recommend trying these two products that have good combinations: 

  • Life Extension Migra-Eeze has: Riboflavin (B2), a standardized Butterbur, and Ginger formula
  • Migrastil has: Magnesium, Taurine, Feverfew, Vitamin B1 (thiamine)

Other Ways to Prevent Migraines Naturally

Biofeedback is now one of the the most widely recommended alternative treatments to reduce migraine attacks, along with acupuncture. There are also some good external stimulation devices on the market like:

that are effective for the prevention of migraines.

Be open to experimenting with different alternative medicine for migraines to find what works on your quest for migraine-free living. It can be a lot of trial and error.

Persevere, and 'soldier on' as they say here in Australia .... you will find what works.

I have faith in you.




Alternative Medicine for Migraines Reference:

1. Teitelbaum, Dr. J. (2010) Magnesium for pain relief. Psychology Today: Complementary Medicine. Available at: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/complementary-medicine/201009/magnesium-pain-relief Accessed June 6, 2011.



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