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Summit Medical Group of Oak Ridge

Home Remedies for Migraine: 5 Alternative Therapies for Relief From Migraine Pain Naturally

By Dr. Robert Chalmers


According to the National Institute of Health, migraines affect about 10 percent of the global population and in the US about 50 million adults report having experienced a migraine. Women are almost three times more likely be affected by migraines than men.

Typical features of migraines include one-sided pain that is pulsatile and usually lasts more than 4 hours and up to 72 hours if untreated. Migraines are also associated with light and sound sensitivity as well as nausea.

Migraines tend to be recurrent and affected individuals can often predict the onset of a migraine, especially those that have migraines with “aura.” An aura is a visual disturbance that appears as flashing lights, zig-zag lines or temporary loss of vision. Visual symptoms are fully reversible. These typically last for 5 minutes but not longer than 1 hour. The headache will also begin during the aura or will follow the aura within 1 hour.


A headache diary can be helpful in identifying triggers. This should include headache frequency, symptoms, initiating and exacerbating conditions and treatment response over time.

The most common triggers for migraines include stress, anxiety, hormonal changes, bright or flashing lights, lack of food or sleep and dietary substances. Avoidance of these triggers can be key in management.

Nonpharmacologic therapies with some evidence for treating headaches include relaxation therapy with biofeedback, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), acupuncture, and physical therapy.

First-line pharmacologic treatments include acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Using these medications together can increase pain relief, however, overuse of these medications can exacerbate headaches. The American Headache Society does not recommend prolonged, frequent use of over-the-counter pain medications due to this risk. There are prescription medications that can be used to quickly treat migraines and if your headaches are severe enough this may be appropriate.

If migraine frequency is often or severe enough, then taking a preventive medication may be warranted. An over-the-counter supplement with data to show reduction of headaches such as riboflavin and magnesium. If this is not effective, then taking a prescription medication is warranted. Severe enough headaches can also be treated with Botox injections at certain points around the skull, but this is typically after trying several medications unsuccessfully.

Headaches that require urgent evaluation:

Some headaches are more worrisome than others. For example, if your headaches change suddenly from how they typically manifest, such as having the “worst headache of my life,” then this needs prompter evaluation. Neurologic changes such as balance issues, seizures, fever, and headaches associated with elevated blood pressure are concerning. If you are over the age of 50 and develop new headaches, this also needs an evaluation.

If you, or someone you know is struggling with headaches please call us at (865) 483-4172 to schedule an appointment to see a provider or physical therapy.


My wife, Brooke, and I moved to Knoxville from Des Moines, IA in 2017 for my family medicine residency training. Brooke is originally from Oregon, and I am a bit of a nomad having lived in seven different states with much of my time in Knoxville and Washington State. We decided to stay after residency as much of my family resides in the area and we both have grown very fond of East Tennessee. As a new physician at Summit Oak Ridge since August 2020, I am enjoying meeting all my new patients and helping them achieve their healthcare goals.