Managing Migraines

If you suffer from migraines, you know how debilitating and unbearable they can be. More than your typical “headache”, migraines can cause severe head pain, sensitivity to light/sound, nausea, vomiting, visual changes, and numbness and tingling. The symptoms of migraines are also similar to symptoms of a stroke, so if you have never experienced a migraine before or experience a change or worsening to your typical presenting symptoms, please seek immediate medical attention to rule out a more serious concern.

If you know the pain of migraines, here are some naturopathic solutions to prevent and minimize migraines:

  • Identify and eliminate food intolerances. Migraines can be a result of various food intolerances. Some migraines are triggered by foods that are high in tyramine. Food that are typically high in tyramine include foods that are aged, fermented, or pickled such as certain cheeses, lunch meats, pickles, fermented soy products, alcoholic beverages, and nuts. For a more complete list, visit Additional food intolerances can also exist and can be identified using food sensitivity testing and/or an elimination diet. Speak to your naturopathic doctor so that you can be assessd for a possible food intolerance.
  • Enjoy magnesium rich foods and consider taking a magnesium supplement. Magnesium helps promote relaxation of blood vessels (which may be constricted during a migraine) and also calms the nervous system and reduces muscular tension associated with migraines. Foods high in magnesium include artichokes, spinach, grains such as oats and barley, and halibut.
  • Relax daily! Many people will report migraines after a period of overwork and stress. Work on setting good boundaries and make time daily to do a quiet activity that allows you to recharge (such as going for a walk, meditating, listening to calming music, journalling, etc). Learning to say no and avoiding taking on an excess number of activities and responsibilities can have a profound reduction on migraine occurrences.
  • Increase your omega-3’s. Fish, eggs and fish oil supplements are high in omega-3 fatty acids which help reduce inflammation and prostaglandins which are associated with migraine pain.
  • Balance out your hormones. Many women experience migraines around their menstrual period. Naturopathic doctors can perform hormone testing and have numerous tools to help harmonize hormones which can reduce and eliminate migraines.