Migraines and Menopause

“What’s the best natural migraine relief?” This one is a frequent question for my perimenopausal and menopause patients. Many of my patients suffer from the unique and debilitating effects of migraines. Now new research confirms that the risk of high-frequency migraines (10 or more a month) rose 60 percent during the transitional time into menopause marked by irregular periods.  This time is called perimenopause.

If you suffer from migraines, you understand that they aren’t your average tension headache.  Migraines are intense, and often times incapacitating.  A migraine can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on just one side of the head. It’s often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.  In other words, when you get one, you’re down for the count.

The key for those who suffer from migraines is to catch them before they are full blown.  In fact, if you know your triggers (i.e. what invariably leads you to have one) avoidance or at best, monitoring contributing behavior is key.

Top 7 Ideas for Natural Migraine Relief

Lavender and Peppermint Essential Oil

Both lavender and peppermint oil play a role in natural migraine relief.

Peppermint oil has a cooling effect on the skin.  Placing a few drops along with a carrier oil (mix with coconut, almond or grape seed) on your temples and at the back of your neck can stimulate blood flow and soothe muscle contractions.

Lavender oil is known to support mood and have a calming effect.  Research confirms that use of lavender oil is safe and effective for migraines. This particular study   measured inhalation of lavender essential oil and was shown to be an effective and safe treatment modality.

It’s easy to try this remedy.  Place 4-5 drops of lavender oil (or peppermint oil) into your hands and rub together gently.  Then put your hands up to your nose and take 4-5 long deep breaths.  Then rub the oil on your temples, forehead and the back of your neck.  Some women find peppermint oil very strong so I suggest diluting it down a bit with a carrier oil like coconut, almond or grape seed.

Magnesium

Magnesium is an effective natural remedy.  It is safe and several studies indicate that migraine sufferers have consistently low levels of magnesium.  Magnesium may block pain-transmitting chemicals in the brain. 200-600mg of magnesium a day may reduce the frequency of headaches.

Detox Bath

Sometimes just the peace and quiet of a bath can help ease a migraine.  Boost the effect with a few of these ideas.

  • Add two cups of apple cider vinegar to your bath.  It pulls excess uric acid out of your body and provides headache relief.
  • Or add an essential oil like lavender, lemongrass, peppermint or Ylang Ylang to help release tension.

Gluten Free Diet

If you know you have Celiac Disease or and have a gluten sensitivity there is often a connection between gluten and migraine headaches.

If you haven’t been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, you may have a gluten sensitivity that is the cause of your migraines.  Try an elimination diet for a few weeks, eliminating all gluten.  Then reintroduce it to your diet and pay close attention to your body and if it triggers a migraine.  Figuring out your relationship with gluten can make a world of difference.

Herbs: Feverfew and Butterbur

Yes, these are some interesting herb names!  But if you suffer from a migraine they just may help.  There has been a lot of research done on this little herb feverfew. It is available in liquid, tablet or capsule form and the recommended dose for migraine relief is 50-100 milligrams of feverfew extract.

The same holds true for butterbur which is said to reduce the inflammatory effect of chemicals that trigger headaches, especially migraines.

Proper Hydration

There is a direct correlation between women, water and menopause and why it is critical to overall health and symptom management. Read more on the importance of your water intake here.

Hydrating is also the key to keeping your migraines under control as well.  Remember, hydration can also be achieved through consumption of veggies and fruit.  (Eat your water!) Some have very high water content like cucumbers (96.7% water), Celery (95.4% water), green peppers (93.9%), spinach (91.4%), cantaloupe (90.2%) and strawberries (91.0%).

Yoga

In addition to yoga being a perfect exercise for perimenopause and menopause, it can also help with migraines.  This great resource gives you some yoga pose ideas that may help.

Action Steps

  • Don’t reach for the medication when you feel a migraine coming on.  Consider at least two ideas for natural migraine relief and integrate them into your healthy lifestyle.
  • Keep a Migraine Log – If you do get frequent migraines, take a moment to write down anything that you can pinpoint that contributed to your migraine’s onset.  Consider foods you’ve eaten, a stressful situation, your cycle, alcohol consumption, change in weather or altitude (barometric pressure), etc.  By identifying patterns you will be able to minimize or avoid your triggers in the future.

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