Myth Busting Remedies to Migraines and Headaches with Dr. Humza Siddiqi
Many of us suffer from headaches, frequently or just on a rare occasion, but we all know just how miserable one can make you feel. Often, we’re so desperate to get rid of a headache or migraine we’re willing to try some extreme— and sometimes very strange— things to find relief. We asked one of our providers and fellow migraine sufferer, Dr. Humza Siddiqi, about his thoughts on different home remedies for migraines and headaches. Which work, and which don’t? Let’s find out!
Self-Induced Vomiting or Gagging
People try to vomit and think it helps. Patients have said, “I gagged myself and threw up, but I still have a migraine.” Sometimes vomiting can relieve pressure for a bit, but overall it’s not a remedy for migraines or headaches. It's actually not advisable for many reasons, including aspiration risks and pneumonia.
Putting Feet in Hot Water and Putting Something Cold on the Back of the Neck
This one isn’t really a remedy, but the concept has some merit. A hot shower can help the body relax, which can help alleviate a tension headache by relaxing the body and relieving stress. I've also had patients tell me they've tried the ice pack on the neck trick. This won’t relieve migraine or headache pain, but it may help with muscle tension. Stress is a big migraine trigger, and anything you can do to relax can help relieve a headache.
People with migraines often experience light sensitivity, making it difficult to be outdoors or in bright lighting. I've had patients try special yellow tinted glasses designed for people with photophobia— light sensitivity— but most of the patients I've asked don't get much relief from this."
Nope. I don't really see how that would aid a migraine. In fact, eating too much sugar can really intensify or even trigger a migraine headache. I tell patients to avoid excess carbs in the evening. I also warn patients about consuming too much chocolate. Sudden consumption of chocolate causes a release of tryptamine and can trigger or intensify headaches.
Getting More Sleep
Sure, this might help with your headaches, but it’s too broad and weak of an explanation. Actually, getting too much sleep can cause more headache problems than relief. The biggest tip I have for migraine sufferers is to stay on a sleep schedule. There is no such thing as make up sleep. A lot of people have trouble sticking to a sleep schedule on the weekends and then experience Migraine Monday, but if you can go to bed and wake at the same time every day and get enough restful sleep, this is one of the best ways to manage migraines. Too little sleep or oversleeping can be a start of a cycle of overconsumption, overeating, and other headache triggers.
This can help, sort of. If you are trying to stretch for the first time in a month to stretch your headache away, once it's begun you are probably not going to get a whole lot of relief. Immobility is a huge headache trigger, but if you stretch regularly, or engage in regular physical exercise, this can help greatly in managing migraines and overall quality of life. There are many studies that show practicing yoga helps a lot of migraine sufferers manage their symptoms.
Peppermint or Sunflower Oil
I've not heard of any benefits from these.
YES! Alcohol is a high carb drink, can cause sedation, and can worsen a headache that is already going on— or trigger a new headache altogether.
Burying a Lock of Hair Under a Stone
I've never heard of this, and I honestly don't know what to say... How old is this one?
Cutting a Lime in Half and Rubbing It on the Forehead
I've actually had patients tell me about this one, but I can tell you it has no medical relevance whatsoever.
Taking 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
Doing this has no clinical benefit for migraines, but it could help relieve constipation!
Taking a B Vitamin
This is not beneficial for migraines but can help with fatigue, weakness, brain fog, and food absorption.
What Do You Suggest?
I suffer from migraine headaches from time to time and have found the best home remedy to be Tylenol or Motrin with hot black coffee. I suggest doing that, assuming you don't have high blood pressure or heart issues. Migraines are caused by the vessels in the brain dilating, which causes pain. Black coffee can help constrict those vessels and relieve the pain. I also suggest you identify your triggers and minimize your exposure to them. This is the best way to prevent a migraine headache. You should also avoid different perfumes or scents. Some chemicals that cause these scents can trigger cluster headaches. You should also get a vision exam. Staying on top of your vision prescription can help keep you from suffering from headaches. Finally, get your blood pressure checked regularly because elevated blood pressure can lead to headaches.