January 25, 2023
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Some natural remedies are more widely researched than others, I’m grateful to have found a treatment plan that has helped me.
I was raised with an awareness that there’s more than just one way to treat illness and disease. Of course, modern, conventional medicine plays a vital role, but there are times when integrative medicine may be able to fill unmet needs.
As a preteen, my first menstrual cycle was accompanied by the unwelcome surprise of a migraine attack. This pairing became a common occurrence. I wasn’t alone — almost 2 out of 3 women with migraine experience attacks around the same time as their period. This is likely caused by changes in estrogen and progesterone levels during the menstrual cycle.
Every month I would find myself needing to lie in a dark room with a cold compress over my head. I would grit my teeth through the pain in between bouts of running to the bathroom, thanks to digestive issues caused by the attack.
At the time, I wasn’t able to swallow pills. When I could stomach the taste, I would crush up ibuprofen and swallow it as well as I could. Thanks to nausea and vomiting, this was often difficult.
I vividly remember going to a concert one evening with my parents. Just as we arrived, the familiar symptoms began to creep in. It began with a headache, then nausea washed over me. When I whispered to my mother that I thought I was getting a migraine attack, she quickly ran out to the nearest pharmacy to buy ibuprofen.
I stared at the crushed pills in my hand for a moment, then attempted to swallow them. I couldn’t stomach it and wound up spitting it all into the toilet.
For the rest of the evening, I lay in my mother’s lap, eyes squeezed shut, trying my best to relax through the pain.
Integrative medicine seeks to treat a person holistically, instead of just focusing on their diagnosis or specific symptoms. It takes into account your physical symptoms, as well as your mental and emotional state. My family was already familiar with the practice of integrative medicine.
As my migraine attacks persisted and I struggled to swallow treatments in pill form, we eventually began exploring holistic treatment options for migraine. These methods had a slow but significant effect on my symptoms.
My family had practiced homeopathy, for years. I had personally turned to homeopathic remedies in the past for other health issues.
Homeopathy is based on the principle that “like cures like.” This is the idea that an undiluted substance that would cause certain symptoms in healthy people would treat the same symptoms when given in tiny doses, diluted in water or alcohol.
Homeopathy medications are called remedies and are made from substances found in nature, many of which are toxic. There’s a wide range of remedies that are geared toward alleviating different types of very specific symptoms.
For headaches alone, Boiron sells at least 20 types of remedies, depending on your symptoms.
For example, for a person who is experiencing a sensation as though they are “feeling of head fullness” and light or noise sensitivity, they might try one remedy while a different remedy would be recommended for migraine attacks caused by mental exertion or around your menstrual cycle.
The practice of homeopathy instilled in me the importance of paying close attention to the nuances of my symptoms.
While scientific studies of homeopathy are considered inconclusive in the United States, individuals with different symptoms have reported finding relief with homeopathic remedies.
A small study in 2000 suggested that homeopathy reduced migraine pain slightly more than a placebo. Also, a 2013 study noted that homeopathy might help reduce the frequency, severity, and duration of migraine attacks in children. However, the study lacked information about the concentrations of homeopathic substances used.
While not specific to migraine treatment, arnica is a commonly used remedy for bruising and it might be helpful to add to other pain management strategies. A 2021 peer-reviewed article discussed numerous studies, and concluded there’s more benefit than risk to adding arnica to a pain management approach. It did note that allergic reactions can happen, and for this reason, topical arnica products are recommended over oral products.
A 2020 study found that homeopathy was a cost-effective option for treating symptoms of depression, but noted that it wasn’t as effective for migraine.
Research on the efficacy of homeopathy is still inconclusive. The World Health Organization (WHO) warns about trying homeopathic remedies because the substances aren’t regulated in the same way that conventional medications are.
If you’re interested in trying homeopathic remedies for migraine, or if you feel as though your current treatment plan just isn’t working for you, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor first. Sometimes homeopathic remedies interact with certain medications or come with side effects you should know to look out for.
1 in 7 adults in the U.S. experiences migraine attacks and I’m not the only one who has sought out a more holistic treatment regimen.
From my experience, much like how every person is unique, the efficacy of treatment varies from person to person. What works for some may not work for others.
While there needs to be more research on the effectiveness and safety of homeopathic remedies, there are other integrative medicine treatments that have been more widely studied.
Some people living with migraine have found that taking certain vitamins and supplements helps reduce their symptoms. Research on the following natural options suggests that they may have benefits for people navigating migraine.
Acupuncture involves inserting very small needles into parts of your body to treat different health conditions. Several studies have shown that regular acupuncture may help reduce migraine symptoms and even reduce the frequency of attacks.
Though I still have migraine attacks from time to time, finding a more holistic treatment regimen has helped me reduce the frequency of my menstrual migraine episodes.
Whether your migraine episodes are caused by weather changes, a disrupted sleep schedule, or other triggers, if you’re not finding relief, integrative therapies may be worth exploring.
Migraine is underdiagnosed and many people spend years “sticking it out” without an effective treatment. Invisible illnesses and chronic conditions are often overlooked because others can’t always see your physical pain or symptoms.
If you want to try a new treatment, always speak to your doctor first. If your doctor isn’t listening to you or you’re being told “it’s all in your head,” you may be experiencing medical gaslighting. Medical gaslighting is real and can cause significant trauma.
It’s important to remember that your experiences are valid and that you are your own best advocate. It’s also always within your right to find a new healthcare professional.
There are many healthcare providers who have experience guiding patients through integrative therapies for chronic condition management.
Health and wellness touch everyone’s life differently. This is one person’s story. The views and opinions expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Healthline Media.
Medically reviewed on January 25, 2023
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