How to reduce migraines

I confess.

I get migraines.

In fact, I’ve been a migraine ‘sufferer’ (I hate that word. I don’t suffer from them. I get bashed about the brain by them, but I don’t suffer from them) since I was in my teens.

I didn’t realise they were migraines. I just thought they were really bad headaches. (doh)

It was only when I was watching something on TV about migraines and saw the auras that people saw when they got migraines that I realised the squiggly pattern which told me I was about to get a brain crushing, vomit-inducing, dizzying headache which lasted anything from a few hours to a day or so, was actually part of a migraine.

Since then, I’ve had people tell me that they aren’t that bad (hint: never tell someone who gets migraines they aren’t that bad. They blooming well are), or that I just need to avoid cheese (for me, cheese has nowt to do with them!) or that I just need to ignore them (thanks doc).

Since becoming a nutritional therapist, my migraines no longer affect life much at all. They are mild enough that I can get away with taking a couple of painkillers the moment I see the aura appear which is sufficient to ward off the pain of the migraine (although sometimes I still feel dizzy and woozy, but that is totally bearable compared to the pain I used to get).

Now what have I been doing since becoming a nutritional therapist which has made a difference? And could any of these things help you?

Well, they helped me, and they help my clients with their migraines, so I’m going to assume that they can help you too.

In no particular order:

Eat foods which are rich in magnesium. Magnesium is key for helping muscles relax, and it seems to be key for helping migraines. Chocolate (proper chocolate, not the cheap crappy stuff) is a great source of magnesium but clearly, if you feel that chocolate has something to do with giving you migraines, don’t go having loads of chocolate to get the magnesium!) Dark green leafy veg, nuts and seeds – especially almonds, sesame and sunflower seeds – bananas, oats and broccoli are all great sources.

Have an Epsom Salt bath – Epsom Salts are pretty much just magnesium, so having a lovely relaxing bath once or twice a week in Epsom Salts is a great way to give yourself a little magnesium boost. You could do a foot bath if you can’t quite be bothered with the whole ‘lying-in-a-bath’ thing. Magnesium oil is also a good idea – you just rub it on your skin as and when you need to.

Aim to balance your blood sugar. Our brains use the sugar in our blood stream as a source of energy, and it likes to have relatively balanced levels of fuel to keep it happy. Which means that keeping your blood sugar nicely balanced is one really cool way of reducing the chances of you getting a killer migraine. Balancing your blood sugar can be tricky – but a good place to start is by having a little fat or protein at breakfast time.

Stay hydrated. Your brain needs water to function properly and yet for many people, drinking enough water (at the right time) is something that they never think about. You don’t need to start downing pints of water each and every hour, but being a bit more aware of your hydration levels can be the difference between a migraine and a happy day!

Keep a food diary. Yes, I know it’s boring, and might not be an exciting way to spend five minutes each day, but food diaries are a great way to start spotting any patterns. How do I know that cheese has nothing to do with my migraines? Because of keeping a food diary.

There are, always, lots of other things you can try in relation to migraines, but these tips above might be just enough to keep those migraines at bay (or, like me, enough to prevent them from causing you to have to go to bed for a day or two, which would be nice, eh?)

And if you do want some help with your migraines, I’d love to see if I can help. A consultation might be what you need. Or you could join one of my Seasonal Five Day Reboots – a lot of the foods that we have during the Reboots (regardless of season) are exactly those which are rich in magnesium and help balance your blood sugar.

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Claire Stone

Founder and Nutritionist at Claire Stone Nutrition
Claire Stone might be a nutritionist, but she isn't a food dictator. 
She helps people understand what they need to be fit, healthy, productive and creative: especially useful for busy peeps. Claire helps them look after their most important business tool (their brains) in a way that is efficient, effective and easy.  
What's more, Claire won't make you feel guilty for liking the foods you eat - her approach is all about how to make small changes for big effects, while still eating the things you love.
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4 thoughts on “How to reduce migraines

  1. I have had migraines since age 20, I’m now 69, my only migraine free period Was when I was pregnant and breast feeding. So I thought when the , was menopause came they would dwindle ! No such luck, usually if I catch it in time I take half an imigran Sometimes I wake up early around 4 am with a full on one.
    Interesting article. I have a banana. Every day, I will get some magnesium. What is the best strength ?

    • Hi Kitty,

      Thanks for your comments – migraines can be such a nightmare, can’t they?
      Bananas are an ok source of magnesium so that’s a good start.
      The fact that you can wake up with a full on migraine early in the morning makes me think that maybe it does have something to do with your blood sugar levels so it might be worth thinking about balancing your blood sugar, especially before bed with a little snack of something like a small handful of nuts or a small bowl of porridge perhaps.
      In terms of magnesium supplements, I always suggest starting with the lowest level. Epsom Salt baths really are a fab way of getting some extra in without taking an actual supplement.
      I hope the tips in this post help – do let us know how you get on!

      • Hi Claire
        I have learned never to go too long without food and always eat regularly, and have a snack before bed.
        Other triggers are lights, stripes, getting too tired.
        I haven’t tried Epsom salts, and will get some, and maybe some magnesium

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