11 Home Remedies for Migraine Headaches

Talk about gender bias.

Three out of four of the nearly 30 million Americans who suffer from migraines are women.

The reason may have to do with a woman’s menstrual cycle, but triggers can also include alcohol, weather changes, stress, food and lack of sleep, said Dr. Brian Grosberg, assistant professor of neurology and director of Inpatient Headache Program at Montefiore Headache Center in Bronx, N.Y.

Nonetheless, there are therapies you can try at home to relieve your migraine pain, Grosberg said.

And the best thing about these remedies? They aren't gender-specific.

1. Drink water

“Dehydration can be a big cause of headaches,” Grosberg said.

2. Drink caffeine

Caffeine is a double-edged sword – it can help and hinder headaches.

“Caffeine can restrict blood vessels, it can lessen pain, it’s a constituent of some pain over-the-counter pain medicines, but it can also trigger headaches for some people,” Grosberg said. “If someone uses caffeine excessively, it can cause a rebound headache, making existing headaches worse.”

3. Tying a headband around the head

Grosberg said this is a practice that's been done since ancient times, and he’s not sure how it came about, but some people claim it works.

4. Fish oil

Enthusiasts claim that fish oil reduces inflammation and works by restricting the blood vessels in your temples. Grosberg said there's no sound evidence, but he recommends trying it.

5. Peppermint oil

Rub it on the part of your head that hurts.

“There’s been no literature to support this, but again, people say it works,” Grosberg said.

6. Eat ginger or take ginger capsules

“No one really knows how this works either,” Grosberg said. “It clearly reduces nausea, but other than that ..."

7. Magnesium

Grosberg said this has been studied and when taken in doses of 400 to 600 milligrams per day, magnesium is effective for menstrual-associated migraines and migraines associated with auras.

The downside: Magnesium may cause diarrhea, if you take too much, Grosberg said.

8. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

In doses of 400 milligrams a day, vitamin B2 can also act as a preventative for migraines, Grosberg said. It can cause some people to urinate more frequently or have darker urine, so the dosage may have to be adjusted.

9. CoEnzymeQ10

Grosberg said that taking 300 milligrams per day has proven to be effective in reducing head pain. The downside: It can be expensive.

10. Butterbur

The most effective "natural medicine," Grosberg said, is called butterbur, or petasites.

Butterbur is a plant grown in Germany, and extensive studies have proven that in pill form, it is very effective in treating migraine pain and asthma, as well as alleviate upset stomachs. Butterbur is safe, although it can only be ordered online.

11. Cold (or hot) compress

This is another remedy that no one knows why it works, but it some swear by it.

"It's hard to study something like that," Grosberg said. "It can have a placebo effect, or it can have a distracting effect on the patient. But a lot of patients swear by it."

Whether you try one or all of these at-home remedies, Grosberg said you should still keep a headache diary to monitor what works and what doesn't, and what triggers your headache. This will assist your doctor in treating you.

"Overall, the less medicines you take, the better," he added.