As a political junkie and analyst, I cannot help but to look at everything through a political lens. We hear much about the gender gap on the issues, but the ultimate gender gap is on migraines. Out of the nearly 30 million Americans who suffer from migraines, 3 out of 4 are women. And one of them is my wife.
The reason may have something to do with a woman’s menstrual cycle, but triggers can also include alcohol, weather changes, stress, food and lack of sleep, said Dr. Brian Grosberg, an Assistant Professor of neurology and the Director of Inpatient Headache Program at Montefiore Headache Center in Bronx, N.Y.
For the millions of husbands and “significant others” who may feel as useless as me, there are some home remedies or home therapies you can try at home to relieve your or your wife’s migraine pain.
None of these remedies are gender-specific, nor are they medication-based.
1. Drink water
“Dehydration can be a big cause of headaches,” Grosberg said.
2. Drink caffeine
Caffeine is a double-edged sword – it can both help and hinder headaches.
Caffeine can restrict blood vessels, it can lessen pain, it’s a replacement for over-the-counter pain medicines like Excedrin Migraine, but it can also trigger headaches for some people. Also, if someone uses caffeine excessively, it can cause a rebound headache, making existing headaches even worse.
You have to get to know your own personal triggers, and for many, too little or too much caffeine is one of them.
3. Tying a headband around the head
This method has been done since ancient times, and many people claim it works, including my mother-in-law. Even though it must be tight to work, you have to use a bit of common sense here. I have seen some pretty stupid stuff.
4. Fish oil
Enthusiasts claim that fish oil reduces inflammation and works by restricting the blood vessels in your temples. The actual medical or pharmaceutical evidence is in infancy, but them again, they will only make such a claim when they can make a dollar. Many people take daily doses of fish oils for inflammation, and indeed, some doctors swear by it for migraines, in addition to many other ailments.
5. Peppermint oil
Rub it on the part of your head that hurts, particularly the back of the neck and temples. Migraines typically bring the heat, and peppermint brings the cool. I have heard that the oil should be 100% for it to have a real-lasting effect, and some people use fish oil and peppermint topically together. Lavender oil can also be applied, but this works best when inhaled, although it should NEVER be taken orally.
6. Eat ginger or take ginger capsules
Even doctors admit that ginger reduces nausea, but as far as migraines, it is certainly one of the more common treatments among those who practice home medicine. However, I cannot say how or why, it apparently helps. Sometimes it is mixed with other remedies such as peppermint, or sometimes it is in a tea, but others just use it alone.
Grosberg, for an interview with Fox, said “this has been studied and when taken in doses of 400 to 600 milligrams per day, magnesium is effective for menstrual-associated migraines and migraines associated with auras.”
There is a downside, however, because magnesium may cause diarrhea, if you take too much.
8. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
In doses of 400 milligrams a day, vitamin B2 can also act as a preventative for migraines. It can cause some people to urinate more frequently, however, or have darker urine. The dosage, therefore, may have to be adjusted.
Taking 300 milligrams per day has proven to be effective in reducing head pain. The downside to CoEnzymeQ10 is that It can get quite expensive.
The most effective “natural medicine,” Grosberg said, is called butterbur, or petasites.
Butterbur is a plant grown in Germany, and extensive studies have proven that in pill form, it is very effective in treating migraine pain and asthma, as well as alleviate upset stomachs. Butterbur is safe, although it can only be ordered online.
11. Cold (or hot) compress
Obviously, most swear by the cold compress for the same reason the initial effects of peppermint are so welcomed. It’s cold, plain and simple.
It may just be a placebo effect, or it can have a distracting effect on the patient. But a lot of people, including my wife, swear by it.
Whether you try one or all of these at-home remedies, you should definitely keep a headache diary to monitor what works and what doesn’t, and most importantly what triggers your headache. This will assist your doctor in treating you, and also help you to recognize the aura specific symptoms unique to you.
For me, the less medicines you take, the better your long-term health.
One Last Suggestion For The Guys
12. Scalp massage
Nothing helps or aids my wife like massaging the scalp, especially on the back of the head or the base of the neck. Temples, although everyone is different, can quickly get sore and irritated with deep fingers message. Using your thumb or tips of you pointer and middle finger together, make small circles on the base of the area of the neck where it connects with the head.
Those who cannot do scalp massage can also opt to tie headbands around their head as stated in number 3, but it is going the extra mile fellas. This technique is effective as it uses reflexes to give the same scalp massage feel to the head.