20 Highly Effective Migraine Relief Remedies in 2021 (w/ Sources)

For people with migraine, relief can be hard to find. Whether you get migraines a few times a month or pretty much every day, an attack can take you down fast and keep you there for a day or more. 

You may not be able to avoid migraines altogether. But a selection of daily habits may help reduce migraine frequency, duration or severity, so you could suffer less overall. 

In this article, we’ll offer 20 ways to find migraine relief, either for prevention or when you’re already in pain. Most of these are natural remedies for migraine and tools that may help with prevention.

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This article has been medically reviewed by Neurologist Ari Magill, MD.

Natural Remedies for Migraines

1. Migraine Glasses

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Migraine glasses, also called light sensitivity glasses, have been shown effective for migraine relief. They work by filtering out the specific wavelengths of light known to trigger or exacerbate migraine headaches in light sensitive people.

Since about 90% of migraine sufferers are light sensitive, these glasses are helpful to a lot of people in preventing and relieving their migraines. Axon Optics has pioneered much of the research on migraine glasses, and improved on the tint created for migraine back in the 1980s.

Verified Source: NIH.gov & HIT-6™ Survey

2. Lavender

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According to research conducted in 2012, migraineurs who breathed the vapors of lavender oil for 15 minutes during an attack achieved quicker migraine relief than people who inhaled a placebo. Breathe in the scent of the oil (it smells fantastic) or dilute it and rub it on your temples.

Verified Source: Karger.com

3. Peppermint Oil

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Peppermint oil contains menthol, a substance studied for its potential use in stopping a migraine attack. A 2010 study found that a menthol solution applied to the temples and forehead worked better than placebo for the pain nausea, and light sensitivity associated with migraine. 

Verified Source: NIH.gov

4. Feverfew

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Well known as a natural remedy for migraine relief, this flowering herb looks much like a daisy. While a 2004 systematic review didn’t find enough evidence to prove feverfew can prevent migraine, a lot of people swear by it for relieving their symptoms. The study of feverfew continues.

Verified Source: NIH.gov

5. Ginger

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Ginger is widely used for sour stomach brought on by illness, pregnancy, and yes, migraine. Research has shown that ginger powder may decrease the duration and severity of migraine as effectively as sumatriptan, a prescription migraine drug.

Verified Source: NIH.gov

6. Butterbur

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In 2012, the American Academy of Neurology actually recommended butterbur for migraine prevention. But they pulled their recommendation of this natural remedy a few years later due to potential liver toxicity. Some butterbur products may contain PAs (pyrrolizidine alkaloids) that may damage the liver and have other potential risks. If you use butterbur, choose products that have had the PAs removed.

7. CoQ10

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Research is ongoing, but there is some evidence that taking CoQ10 may provide some migraine relief. A review of studies in 2018 showed CoQ10’s effectiveness in reducing migraine duration and migraine days per month. A 2021 study upheld those findings. The studies used doses ranging from 30 mg to 800 mg daily.

Verified Source: NIH.gov

8. Magnesium

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Adding magnesium oxide to your diet through foods and supplements can help prevent migraine with aura, as well as those related to a woman’s menstrual cycle. Magnesium-rich foods include almonds, sunflower and sesame seeds, Brazil nuts, cashews, oatmeal, eggs, and peanut butter.

Verified Source: American Migraine Foundation

9. Riboflavin

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High doses of riboflavin have been found beneficial in treating migraines. In one study, patients received a 400 mg daily dose. The frequency, intensity, and duration was reduced by half when compared to baseline levels after 3 and 6 months of use.

Verified Source: NIH.gov

Axon Supplement Has Remedy #6, #7, #8, and #9 ⁠— All-In-One

Axon supplement is made of natural ingredients you can pronounce, in amounts shown to reduce migraines by up to 50%

We have only included ingredients backed by real data, so you get just what your body needs to reduce migraines.

Axon Migraine Supplement Drink Mix In a Bottle

10. Acupressure

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This is the practice of applying pressure to certain points on the body said to affect other points. As an alternative practice, acupressure is used to help relieve pain and other symptoms. In a systematic review conducted in 2014, acupressure was found credible in relieving chronic headache pain. Another study revealed that acupressure may relieve nausea caused by migraine.

Verified Source: NIH.gov & SpringerLink

11. Massage

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If you need a great excuse to get a massage every week, here you go! A study has found that weekly massage may actually reduce the frequency of migraine, along with improving sleep. As suggested by the study, massage can reduce your perception of stress and help you cope. So if your migraines are stress-related, regular massage could be helpful.

Verified Source: NIH.gov 

12. Migraine Diary

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Keeping a detailed diary of your migraines and what you were doing before or during the attack can help you identify contributing patterns. Many people can reduce their attacks and achieve some migraine relief within a few weeks of stringent diary-keeping.

Through your migraine diary, you might identify triggers, medications, or self-treatments that work (or not), and symptoms. It can also help you communicate with your doctor about your condition.

Many people choose to keep a physical migraine diary or tracker, but others like to use an app, like Migraine Buddy.

Verified Source: American Migraine Foundation

13. Yoga

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Practicing yoga may relieve the intensity, duration and frequency of migraine attacks. This could be due to the release of tension, reduced anxiety, and improved vascular health it promotes.

While studies say it’s too early to recommend yoga as a primary therapy for migraine relief, researchers do believe that yoga can be a good complementary therapy because it supports overall health

Verified Source: NIH.gov 

14. Avoid Nitrates/Nitrites

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Processed meats like hot dogs, bacon, sausage, and deli meats are usually laden with nitrates and/or nitrites during the curing process. These substances are believed to be migraine triggers for many people.

Verified Source: NIH.gov 

15. Cut Caffeine

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A little caffeine may help some people with their migraine pain; it’s even an ingredient in some migraine drugs. However, too much caffeine may actually trigger a migraine attack. Ingesting it regularly and then stopping too suddenly may also lead to headaches from withdrawal.

Verified Source: American Migraine Foundation

16. Proper Sleep

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There is a known connection between sleep quality and migraine frequency. Inadequate sleep as well as oversleeping are coming triggers for headaches, and regular sleep may help reduce attacks. There is also a correlation between migraine and sleep disorders like sleep apnea and insomnia.

Verified Source: NIH & American Migraine Foundation

Other Migraine Remedies

17. Prescription Drugs

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We’re all for natural remedies for migraine, and you probably are too. But sometimes you might also need to treat a migraine attack with prescribed pharmaceuticals. What works for someone else might not work for you, but there are several medicines that have been shown to provide migraine relief for at least 50% of patients within a couple of hours.

  1. Sumatriptan injection
  2. Sumatriptan 100mg tablet
  3. Sumatriptan nasal spray
  4. Zolmitriptan 2.5mg
  5. Diclofenac 50mg
  6. Paracetamol 1,000mg

Verified Source: Cochrane [1,2,3,4,5] & NIH

18. Over-the-Counter Drugs

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You might try these if you don’t have a prescription or would like to avoid strong painkillers. Ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen are all good options. Be sure to read your labels for dosage and talk to your doctor or pharmacist about how much to take.

19. Neuromodulation

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Neuromodulation uses low electrical currents or magnetic energy to alter brain activity. These devices have been studied for potential treatment of cluster headache and migraine relief. Many of these devices are only available by prescription, but there is one device FDA-approved for over-the-counter purchase.

Neuromodulation may help stop or prevent a migraine attack. Some of the machines are portable and others are placed surgically. There are no known significant side effects.

Verified Source: American Migraine Foundation

20. Biofeedback

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During a biofeedback session, you’ll be connected to electrical sensors that give you information about what’s going on in your body. The feedback collected allows you to make subtle changes that help you control autonomic reactions. You might be able to relax certain muscles that could help with migraine relief due to the release of tension.

Verified Source: Mayo Clinic

The Takeaway

While there is no known cure, you’ve armed yourself with 20 remedies that could help you get some migraine relief. With trial and error, you can choose several methods that could reduce your pain.

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[2] American Migraine Foundation. (2013, October 15). Magnesium and Migraine. https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/magnesium/

[3] American Migraine Foundation. (2017, January 10). Caffeine and Migraine. https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/caffeine-and-migraine/

[4] American Migraine Foundation. (2019a, April 25). Sleep Disorders and Headache. https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/sleep/

[5] American Migraine Foundation. (2019b, May 2). Headache Journals: Tracking Your Migraine. https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/headache-journals/

[6] American Migraine Foundation. (2020, April 2). Neuromodulation for Migraine Treatment. https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/neuromodulation-for-migraine-treatment/

[7] Bird S, Derry S, Moore R. Zolmitriptan for acute migraine attacks in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD008616. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008616.pub2

[8] Boehnke, C., Reuter, U., Flach, U., Schuh-Hofer, S., Einhaupl, K. M., & Arnold, G. (2004). High-dose riboflavin treatment is efficacious in migraine prophylaxis: an open study in a tertiary care centre. European Journal of Neurology, 11(7), 475–477. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-1331.2004.00813.x

[9] Borhani Haghighi, A., Motazedian, S., Rezaii, R., Mohammadi, F., Salarian, L., Pourmokhtari, M., Khodaei, S., Vossoughi, M., & Miri, R. (2010). Cutaneous application of menthol 10% solution as an abortive treatment of migraine without aura: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossed-over study. International Journal of Clinical Practice, 64(4), 451–456. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1742-1241.2009.02215.x

[10] Chen, Y. W., & Wang, H. H. (2014). The Effectiveness of Acupressure on Relieving Pain: A Systematic Review. Pain Management Nursing, 15(2), 539–550. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmn.2012.12.005

[11] Derry CJ, Derry S, Moore RA. Sumatriptan (subcutaneous route of administration) for acute migraine attacks in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD009665. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD009665

[12]  Derry CJ, Derry S, Moore RA. Sumatriptan (oral route of administration) for acute migraine attacks in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD008615. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008615.pub2

[13] Derry CJ, Derry S, Moore RA. Sumatriptan (intranasal route of administration) for acute migraine attacks in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD009663. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD009663

[14] Derry S, Rabbie R, Moore R. Diclofenac with or without an antiemetic for acute migraine headaches in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD008783. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008783.pub3

[15] Derry S, Moore R. Paracetamol (acetaminophen) with or without an antiemetic for acute migraine headaches in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD008040. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008040.pub3

[16] Gonzalez, A., Hyde, E., Sangwan, N., Gilbert, J. A., Viirre, E., & Knight, R. (2016). Migraines Are Correlated with Higher Levels of Nitrate-, Nitrite-, and Nitric Oxide-Reducing Oral Microbes in the American Gut Project Cohort. MSystems, 1(5). https://doi.org/10.1128/msystems.00105-16

[17] Javanmard, S., Boroujeni, M., Marandi, S., Esfarjani, F., Sattar, M., & Shaygannejad, V. (2015). Yoga intervention on blood NO in female migraineurs. Advanced Biomedical Research, 4(1), 259. https://doi.org/10.4103/2277-9175.172995

[18] Lawler, S. P., & Cameron, L. D. (2006). A randomized, controlled trial of massage therapy as a treatment for migraine. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 32(1), 50–59. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15324796abm3201_6

[19] Lin, Y. K., Lin, G. Y., Lee, J. T., Lee, M. S., Tsai, C. K., Hsu, Y. W., Lin, Y. Z., Tsai, Y. C., & Yang, F. C. (2016). Associations Between Sleep Quality and Migraine Frequency. Medicine, 95(17), e3554. https://doi.org/10.1097/md.0000000000003554

[20] Maghbooli, M., Golipour, F., Moghimi Esfandabadi, A., & Yousefi, M. (2013). Comparison Between the Efficacy of Ginger and Sumatriptan in the Ablative Treatment of the Common Migraine. Phytotherapy Research, 28(3), 412–415. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.4996

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[25] Zeng, Z., Li, Y., Lu, S., Huang, W., & Di, W. (2018). Efficacy of CoQ10 as supplementation for migraine: A meta-analysis. Acta Neurologica Scandinavica, 139(3), 284–293. https://doi.org/10.1111/ane.13051