Anyone who has ever suffered a true migraine knows how terrible and debilitating it is. In the last year of my life, I started getting migraines, and they started multiplying. Besides the pain itself, it's rough to lose days (or weeks) every month, unable to get anything done. I find it incredibly frustrating to not know the cause, aka the cure for these things.
Everyone is different, and what helps me may not help you, BUT there's a chance it will! And when you're that desperate for pain relief, you're willing to try pretty much anything.
What I know about my migraines: they happen occasionally throughout the month, and get worse around my period. I'm thinking they're hormone related, and I also read that people who get bad cramps can suffer headaches and migraines at the same time, since the body sends pain signals to parts of your brain when cramps get really bad. Something like that...I'm not a doctor.
And what's more fun than suffering from terrible cramps once a month!? GETTING MIGRAINES AND CRAMPS! EVERY MONTH! LOVE IT!!
I don't really love it. So if you've noticed that you get migraines close to your period, or during other hormone spikes in the month, I may be able to help you...
Magnesium has been the BIGGEST help to getting rid of my migraines. Magnesium deficient people can suffer from migraines, anxiety, muscle cramps, insomnia, and a whole lot of other problems that doctors will diagnose as something else. If you are a human, you are probably a little magnesium-deficient (See this article: Why We’re All Deficient In Magnesium).
Eating sugar and drinking coffee doesn't help things, but it's not like we're gonna give THOSE up. Well. I'm not. So I bought magnesium supplements at the drugstore (250 mg) and I take one or two every single day. Some websites recommend taking more, like up to 800 mg a day, but I'd ask a doctor before doing that. Literally everything we do depletes magnesium in some way, so supplements are VERY important. And if you don't have migraines but you have anxiety and sleep problems, this might help you.
After a month of taking magnesium, my migraines are almost gone. I'll get maybe two small ones a month instead of 10 debilitating ones. Big improvement. Magnesium should help with your cramps too, but based on the last two days of my life, I'm not so sure that it does!
I know. "What is this hippie nonsense Jill is cramming down my throat?" IT WORKS, OK!? Don't knock it till you try it!!
Buy this here. It is 4 dollars for the small one and you won't regret it. Mix a few drops with coconut oil or something similar, and rub on your temples, jaw, and back of neck.
Also, the last few times I've had migraines, nothing helped at all until I boiled some water, put a few drops of this oil in the water, and breathed the steam with a towel over my head. I know. When you have a mind-splitting migraine, it doesn't seem like steam of all things would make any difference. But seriously, it has completely stopped my migraine in its tracks every time. And then it's gone. And it doesn't come back. Plus it's super relaxing and good for your skin to breathe steam, so go for it.
It also smells really good, like spearmint, so that's cool, right? If nothing helps your migraines, maybe this puppy will.
Knowledge is POWER! To be powerful and migraine free, this book helped me:
17 bucks on amazon: here!
Written by a doctor, with lots and lots of reliable sources and medical studies to back up the info. This book helps you break down the causes of your migraines based on your specific symptoms and hopefully you can get to the bottom of them. The causes and cures: most important part!
This baby illuminated the magnesium thing to me, and covers a lot that I didn't understand before. As awesome as the endless listicles on the internet about migraine triggers and cures are (this post), they can be contradicting and not scientifically based. Yes, food triggers are real for some people, but if you're like me, food doesn't trigger headaches so it won't help me much to avoid pickles! But thanks for the tip, internet.
I try to avoid taking medicine, and maybe you're one of those people too. Migraine pain is a little too much to handle at times, and sometimes it hits when I literally can't go lie down in the dark, like when I'm at work or performing. In those cases, EXCEDRIN!
Excedrin is a magical thing, taken in moderation. Who knew the key to the universe was two painkillers and caffeine? Just kidding, sort of. When you're desperate and you need fast relief (I think that's their slogan...) Excedrin almost always works.
"Excedrin migraine, make sure it's Excedrin migraine!!" my dad always says, even though I'm pretty sure they're the same thing. But yes. Make sure it's Excedrin Migraine.
Also talk to your doctor about starting or switching birth control pills. They contain hormones that don't cause your headaches, but some work better with your body to keep them at bay. If you get menstrual migraines, you might need to take the pill that only gives you 3 periods a year, etc. Talk to your doctor about it.
I can hear my doctors frowning from here. This may sound like a terrible idea, but for me personally, on days when I feel the small symptoms of a migraine, I drink a cup of coffee, and usually the migraine won't hit. I've had a few times when Excedrin didn't work, nothing worked. But I drank an entire iced coffee in the midst of a bad migraine and all the pain went away. There's caffeine in migraine medicine, so there's something to it. My doctor said not to do this, that it could cause a "rebound headache" so take my words with a grain of salt. But hey, try it if you're desperate. Especially at the first signs of a migraine. If it works for you, awesome. If not...rub some oil on your head.
It's a really good idea to keep a migraine journal and track the times, triggers, and remedies of every migraine to notice a pattern, but in my experience, writing all that down and deciphering it later is REAL difficult. I have this free app called Migraine Buddy that prompts you with a series of questions, you fill in all the details whenever you have a migraine (or hit "bother me later" and fill it out when the migraine has ended) and it will keep track of all the important stuff for you. It makes charts of when you frequently have them, what helps them, and what might cause them. Super helpful if you don't totally understand why the pain happens!
And if you get the app, ADD ME, cause I currently have no migraine buddies. I think you can put up a status like "currently in pain, send love" to your migraine pals and they can cure you with their love. Or at least empathize.
That is everything I've discovered in the last year. Different combinations of these remedies usually work. Try them if you think you have hormone related headaches. Also consider the usual health code: eat right and exercise. Drink an absurd amount of water and take your vitamin.
Obviously alcohol won't help your migraines, and it might even be triggering them. Think about your posture. If you're putting pressure on the wrong nerves or straining your neck all the time, that can very likely give you migraines. Definitely buy that book new or used, if you want to really understand what may be causing your pain, instead of popping a pill every time you feel it.
Doctors will tell you there's not enough understanding of migraines and some people "just get them" and no one knows why. Doctors are really dumb sometimes. So do your own research and help yourself because lord knows no one at kaiser permanente is going to.
I hope this helped someone! Chronic pain can be SO frustrating and difficult to endure. I wish I'd found a post like this when my migraines were at their worst.
These are some cost-effective solutions to menstrual migraines that shouldn't give you crazy side-effects.
Stay well, everybody!!