I’m a girl who likes products: I like to find a deal on products, I like to think about how products can improve my life, and I like to try new things. This is especially true for anything that might help bring some relief to my migraine symptoms. Like just about any migraineur, I have a small arsenal of devices and natural products to use to mitigate my migraine triggers and ease pain.
Over the years I’ve tried dozens and dozens of products marketed as alternative remedies for migraine symptoms. While the majority don’t work — at least not for me — I’ve found a few that have.
What to look for
Always avoid products that claim to “cure” migraine. There is no known medical cure to this complicated neurological illness, and any product claiming otherwise is likely a waste of your time and money.
I also look for products that promote relaxation and overall well-being as well. Migraine disease affects mind, body, and spirit, so self-care is especially important.
Here are some of the products I love that help me cope with the physical, emotional, and spiritual effects of migraine.
Sarah’s tool kit must-haves
When it comes to pain, both heat and ice are helpful.
A good heating pad helps relax the muscles in my neck, shoulders, hands, and feet, and keeps my extremities warm during a migraine attack.
By far my favorite product is the Headache Hat — it’s so much easier than fumbling around with ice packs! The Headache Hat has individual cubes that can be placed on the pressure points on your head. It can be worn like a normal hat or pulled down over your eyes to help with light and sound sensitivity.
Some other great ways to treat body pain are Epsom salt baths and massage with different pain rubs, sprays, and lotions. My current favorite lotion is from Aromafloria. They have an unscented line which I love for those smell sensitive days, but you can also get an individualized lotion made for specific aromatherapy relief.
Symptom: Light sensitivity
Photophobia and light sensitivity are common. All light seems to bother my eyes, including harsh inside lighting. I use Axon Optics glasses for my sensitivities with fluorescent and other bothersome light. They have indoor and outdoor tints specifically designed to block wavelengths of light that can make migraine pain worse.
Symptom: Sensitivity to sound
Even the slightest noise bothers me during a migraine attack, so a quiet room is the best place for me. If I’m not able to be in a quiet space, I use earplugs or a hat to muffle sound. Focused breathing allows me to deal with the pain more effectively and meditation, although not always obtainable, can help my body relax enough to sleep.
Certain scents can be a trigger or be an effective method of relief, depending on the smell and the person. For me, cigarette smoke and perfume are instant triggers.
Essential oils, on the other hand, can be helpful in many ways. Oils can be diffused, ingested, or used topically. I like the line of diffusers and mixed oils from Organic Aromas.
I diffuse different oils around my home, use a roller applicator on pressure points, and also add a few drops to my baths.
There can be a lot of trial-and-error with essential oils — what works for one person may not work for another. For some people, they may even be a migraine trigger. Do your research before testing out essential oils and be sure to buy high-quality oils from a reputable retailer.
Trigger: Nausea and dehydration
Eating and drinking can become complex while having a migraine. Migraines sometimes cause cravings that tend to be unhealthy choices like chocolate or salty foods, which may even trigger more symptoms. But they also can cause nausea, which may lead to skipping meals and going about your day on an empty stomach, which is — you guessed it — another trigger.
In short, food and drinks can trigger migraines, but not eating or drinking liquids is absolutely not an option. I always keep a water bottle with me and a protein bar for those missed meals. I keep mints in my purse because peppermint seems to help nausea along with ginger.
The emotional fallout from migraine
Migraine can last for hours or days at a time, so distraction from pain is a crucial coping strategy. Movies, games, social media, and music are ways to pass the time quietly while dealing with a migraine. Screen time can trigger a migraine, though, so small amounts at a time are advised.
Emotions can run high before, during, and after a migraine, and a community can answer questions, give advice, and provide support. Connecting with people who understand without judgement is important for the mind. You can find resources and migraine communities online, or there may even be a support group in your area.
Doing something nice for yourself or others feeds the soul. When I’m not out spending my money on medication or doctors, I like to treat myself and others in need with something special. ChronicAlly is a subscription gift box specifically made for chronic illness sufferers. I have treated myself to a box and sent it to others in a time of need. There is nothing like giving or receiving a box of items made with love and for self-care.
When it comes to migraine, nothing works the same for everyone, and even the things that do bring relief don’t work every time. My best advice is to do your research and beware of the hype around any one product. Remember, there is no cure, and nothing can be effective 100 percent of the time. The best migraine products are those that fit your lifestyle and needs to help you deal with migraine better.
Here’s hoping these tips help life become less painful, and a little more relaxed.