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If you are one of the over 37 million Americans that suffers from migraines, here’s some help! You may be wondering what you can do to keep these draining headaches at bay. Well, the first place to start is to understand the facts around them.
To learn about auras and the causes & triggers of migraines, check out our Migraine Headaches 101 blog post.
Natural Methods for Prevention and Relief of Migraines
Although relief is found for some migraine sufferers through OTC or prescription medications, consider more natural approaches and lifestyle changes for migraine prevention and relief. While there is unfortunately not a way to do away with migraines forever, there are healthy lifestyle habits that may help extend your time between migraine attacks.
1. Adequate Water Hydration It is extremely important to drink enough water to hydrate your body throughout the day. The most common suggestion is to drink about eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, which is about 2 liters (or half a gallon) per day. Of course, the amount of water will increase based on daily activity level.
2. Regular Exercise Dr. Andrew D. Hershey, a headache specialist and the chair and director of the Division of Neurology at the Headache Center in Cincinnati, states that exercise helps both the body and the brain. He recommends patients with migraines exercise 4-5 times per week for 45 minutes. 1
3. Healthy Sleep Cycles If you are a migraine sufferer, it’s vital to get adequate sleep every night for prevention. Around 7-8 hours of sleep is the common recommendation, along with going to sleep around the same time each night. Also, avoid playing on your phone and/or computer right before you go to sleep as the blue light emitted from these devices can make it harder for your brain to wind down and fall asleep.
4. Well-Balanced Diet Since prolonged hunger may bring on migraines, it’s important to avoid skipping meals and to focus on a well-balanced diet consisting of fruits, nuts, vegetables, protein and good fats (i.e. avocado, cheese, eggs, extra virgin olive oil, etc.). With that being said, it is also important to avoid the specific foods or food groups that you notice trigger your migraines.
5. Stress-Reduction Techniques Techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises, taking a walk (without your phone) and being mindful of all your surroundings, journaling and anything else that brings you relief from the daily stressors of life can be advantageous for migraine prevention.
Dietary Supplements: CoQ10 and Magnesium
In addition to these lifestyle habits, regular intake of the antioxidant CoQ10 and the mineral magnesium can also contribute to migraine prevention and relief.
Not only is CoQ10 an important nutrient for energy production in the body, human studies also show that it can help make migraines shorter in duration and less severe, all without the side effects seen in prescription medications.2 If you are a premenopausal woman with migraines, there is even better news! A new 2018 study revealed that taking CoQ10 consistently for three months can lead to significantly fewer migraine attacks and when they did occur, they did not last as long and were less severe.3
Magnesium is a vital mineral that plays a role in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. One of its major roles is relaxing smooth muscles within the blood vessels, which supports healthy blood flow in the body. When it comes to the brain, magnesium is essential in controlling brain electrical activity such as balancing excitatory-to-inhibitory actions of nerve cells as well as helping to boost blood flow. Studies show migraine sufferers are deficient in magnesium.4 For migraine prevention, magnesium oxide is one of the most frequently recommended nutrients by neurologists for their migraine patients. In fact, magnesium’s effectiveness is seen primarily in patients who have or have had aura with their migraines.5
Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give in!
Although migraine headaches come with a host of distressing symptoms, educating yourself on your triggers and avoiding them as best as you can could make a world of difference. Maintain your healthy lifestyle habits, take your nutrients daily (and medication as needed), be gentle with yourself when one does come on and take all the rest that you need! Migraines DO pass. You are NOT alone in what you are experiencing. For even more helpful migraine information, visit the Life Extension Migraine Headache Health Protocol.
About the Author: Julia Dosik, BS, MPH, is a clinical corporate trainer at Life Extension headquarters in South Florida. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology and psychology as well as a Master of Public Health specializing in health education. Julia utilizes a mix of in-person, virtual and written training to educate employees and consumers on how the human body functions and the importance of supplementing with science-backed ingredients. It is her deepest belief that high-quality dietary supplements are fundamental to an individual’s physical and mental well-being.
- Shoeibi A, Olfati N, Soltani Sabi M, et al. Effectiveness of coenzyme Q10 in prophylactic treatment of migraine headache: an open-label, add-on, controlled trial. Acta Neurol Belg. 2017 Mar;117(1):103-9
- Dahri M, Tarighat-Esfanjani A, Asghari-Jafarabadi M, et al. Oral coenzyme Q10 supplementation in patients with migraine: Effects on clinical features and inflammatory markers. Nutr Neurosci. 2018Jan 3:1-9.
- Mauskop A, Varughese J. Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium. J Neural Transm. 2012 May;119(5):575-9.