Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments are popular with many people who get migraines. CAM treatments for migraines may include acupuncture, acupressure, herbal or nutritional supplements, biofeedback, chiropractic, and daith piercing. Some CAM therapies have been studied in clinical trials, but in many cases, there is limited or inconsistent evidence that they are beneficial for migraines.
If you choose to try one or more CAM therapies, it is important to maintain the traditional drug regimen established by your doctor. These treatments have been proven effective in rigorous, scientific trials. It is also vital to check with your doctor before beginning a CAM regimen so that they can warn you about any potential interactions and correctly interpret any side effects.
What does it involve?
At this time, several CAM treatments are accepted by doctors as potentially benefiting some people with migraines.
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practice that has been used for thousands of years to treat a wide range of illnesses. During an acupuncture treatment, you will lie still on a table. A trained acupuncturist or TCM practitioner will insert fine needles into the skin or connective tissue just beneath the skin. The needles are left in the skin for up to 30 minutes. Different regions of the skin are targeted during acupuncture depending on the condition being treated. The practitioner may gently twist or move the needles. Heat or electricity may be applied to the needles. Acupuncture is usually painless.
Acupressure is another TCM practice. During an acupressure treatment, a TCM practitioner will press firmly into your skin with their fingers, elbows, feet, or special tools.
Acupuncture and acupressure are believed to work by balancing and correcting the flow of energy, or qi (pronounced “chee”), throughout the body. Some Western researchers have proposed that acupressure works by stimulating nerves and increasing blood flow.
Daith piercing is a cometic procedure believed by some to provide similar benefits as acupuncture, but on a more permanent basis. The procedure for daith piercing involves piercing a cartilage fold near the opening of the ear and placing jewelry in the new opening.
Herbal and nutritional supplements including feverfew, butterbur, magnesium, melatonin, ginger, fish oil, and Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) are taken by some people to ease or prevent migraine symptoms.
Biofeedback involves wearing special sensors on your head that monitor your brainwaves. You view a visualization of your brainwaves and attempt to change the pattern in ways that control or lessen symptoms.
Chiropractic is a health treatment that aims to correct problems with the muscles, nerves, and skeletal system. The most common form of chiropractic treatment is an adjustment, also called a spinal manipulation. During an adjustment, the chiropractor will carefully direct force into specific joints to increase mobility and correct misalignment. Chiropractors may also utilize massage or teach you stretches you can do at home.
Some people claim that one CAM treatment or another prevents or treats their migraines. However, most CAM treatments have not been studied in rigorous clinical trials to establish their safety and effectiveness.
CAM treatments may not work. Some CAM treatments may worsen migraines.
Herbal supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Their safety and effectiveness have not been evaluated. The strength and purity of the ingredients may vary from brand to brand or batch to batch.
Daith piercings can be painful to receive and while they heal. Rarely, a daith piercing may cause infection or loss of sensation.
Some CAM treatments can cause interactions with medications. Some CAM treatments may exacerbate other health conditions.
Health insurance may not cover CAM therapies. Some CAM treatments can be expensive.
Depending on where you live, it may be difficult to find a place to try biofeedback. There may not be a trained acupuncturist or chiropractor who specializes in migraines located near you.
For more details about this treatment, visit:
Alternative Therapies for Headache Treatment – National Headache Foundation
Complementary and alternative therapies – Migraine.com
Non-pharmacologic treatments - American Migraine Foundation