Migraines are no joke. As a migraine sufferer myself, I can attest.
Did you know migraines rank 3rd in the world’s most disabling illnesses?1
Migraines are a neurological event. In addition to an awful headache, you might have nausea, vomiting, see flashing lights, or have parts of your vision become blurry. You can be light and sound sensitive to the point you have to stay in a dark quiet room for hours at a time. You may have slurred speech, weakness, or numbness in your face or one side of your body2….you might wonder if you’re having a stroke. These symptoms can last for hours to days.
Frequent migraines severely impact your quality of life. They make it hard to function, hard to even think straight. It impacts your job, your social life, and your family life. Afterall, how do you take care of your kids or get that project done for work when you’ve got all that going on? Those close to you who don’t get migraines probably have a hard time understanding how bad it can be, because there isn’t anything else like it.
Making things more challenging, migraines are complicated.
Each person may have different triggers, and often there seems to a mix of things that can trigger migraines. Red wine, chocolate, aged cheese, a big change in the weather, strong wind, change in your sleep schedule, food sensitivities, tight jaw or neck…..the list goes on. Sometimes you might get a migraine even when you do everything right.
Western pharmaceutical medications, like triptans, and sometimes even ibuprofen, can help but often don’t. Plus, both preventative and acute migraine pharmaceuticals often have a lot of unwanted side-effects. This can leave us feeling a lot of despair and frustration.
So what can you do? Luckily, there are a lot of effective and natural treatments for migraines. They can all be used alone or together, even with your prescription meds. Often, a combination of things works best.
Acupuncture is very effective at treating migraines and has been successfully treating them for many centuries, without side effects. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine always treat both your symptoms AND the underlying root issues that cause the migraines in the first place, something Western medicine can’t do.
In PubMed, you can see this study, an overview of several other large systematic reviews of studies done between 2011 and 2019, which “…found high quality of evidence indicated that the effective rate of acupuncture was superior to western medicine in treatment of migraine.” This study also found that acupuncture reduced headache days, reduced the times painkillers were needed, and was “…more effective in reducing the frequency and degree of headache than western medicine and sham acupuncture…” 3
For best results, you can expect to need weekly acupuncture (or even 2-3 times a week if they’re really severe and frequent) for at least 6-8 weeks, then tapering down over time. Once your migraines are managed, you may just need to come every now and then for a tune-up.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) is also extremely helpful in treating the underlying root issues of your migraines, as well as reducing frequency and intensity. We use easy-to-take encapsulated formulas to keep things simple and practical.
One of the most effective things about CHM (and acupuncture) is that it isn’t “one-size-fits-all.” While there are certain herbs and formulas that make the foundation of treatments, your migraines are not necessarily stemming from the same issues as another person. We look at your unique “constitution,” situation, symptoms and history to treat YOU, not just your migraines.
Since CHM is so tailored to each person, you’ll need to come in for an appointment so we can prescribe exactly what works best for you.
Several nutritional supplements and western herbs have proven helpful in treating migraines, as well. These are more general and are safe for most people unless you’re taking blood thinners, anti-seizure meds, or lithium. It’s always wise to consult with us or your medical doctor if you’re unsure.
A meta-analysis study done in 2021 found daily CoQ10 use reduced both duration and frequency of migraines, helps with energy and stamina, and is helpful for cardiovascular health.4
Known as the “medieval aspirin,” this herb has been used in western herbology for centuries to treat pain. However, if you’re allergic to ragweed, you may be sensitive to this plant, too.
This supplement helps stabilize cerebral blood vessels and nerve sensitivity.
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) has also been well studied and found to reduce the frequency and duration of migraine.5
- Magnesium has been shown to also reduce the frequency and duration of migraines and can be helpful during a migraine, as well.6
- Butterbur has been shown to be effective at treating and reducing migraines and is safe when pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) are removed, as in this supplement.7
You can read more and directly order these supplements in our Migraine protocol here.
If you’re suffering from chronic migraines, it’s time to give these treatments and supplements a try. We’ve treated hundreds of migraine sufferers with great success.
We offer free 15-minute initial consults to answer your questions and see if we’re a good fit. For more personalized migraine support with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, or for your free 15-minute initial consult, book an appointment with Dr. Jennie.
Dr. Jennie Luther, DACM, L.Ac
Family Tree Acupuncture & Wellness
3 Li, Y. X., Xiao, X. L., Zhong, D. L., Luo, L. J., Yang, H., Zhou, J., He, M. X., Shi, L. H., Li, J., Zheng, H., & Jin, R. J. (2020). Effectiveness and Safety of Acupuncture for Migraine: An Overview of Systematic Reviews. Pain research & management, 2020, 3825617. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/3825617
4 Sazali, S., Badrin, S., Norhayati, M. N., & Idris, N. S. (2021). Coenzyme Q10 supplementation for prophylaxis in adult patients with migraine-a meta-analysis. BMJ open, 11(1), e039358. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-039358
5Namazi, N., Heshmati, J., & Tarighat-Esfanjani, A. (2015). Supplementation with Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) for Migraine Prophylaxis in Adults and Children: A Review. International journal for vitamin and nutrition