Treating Headaches and Migraines with Alternative Medicine

Headaches and other forms of head pain, such as migraines, are the most common reason that workers take sick days. They are also the medical condition that leads to the largest loss in productivity for employers. Moreover, they are among the leading complaints to doctors. Though many of us wouldn’t think twice before popping pills such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or even a prescription painkiller, there are some alternative medicine treatments that many have found very helpful in easing or preventing this pain in the first place.

While drugs are an effective form of treatment, a growing number of individuals are seeking alternative medicine for overcoming their headaches and migraines, due to the risks and/or conflicts that can be associated with conventional treatments.

As chronic stress is considered to be among the primary contributors to the most common types of headaches, including tension headaches and migraines, many alternative treatments focus on reducing stress levels. The following are some of the most popular alternative medicine treatments for headaches and migraines:

• Stress management – stressful life events have been associated with chronic headaches and migraines. For this reason, some therapies for depression, anxiety, and overall stress have been known to be helpful for easing headaches. These include daily stress management techniques or may even involve those methods combined with antidepressant medications. Stress management techniques can involve eating a healthier diet, getting a better sleep, daily exercise, yoga and/or meditation, and others.
• Biofeedback – this is a technique that can help patients to learn stress reduction skills through information regarding skin temperature, muscle tension, brain waves, and other various vital signs. In order to obtain biofeedback data, small electrodes (metal sensors) are attached to the skin through an adhesive and measure the temperature of the skin or the tension levels in the muscles. Treatment based on biofeedback has been shown to reduce both the duration and the frequency in headaches in both adults and kids.
• Acupuncture – this ancient Chinese technique uses very fine, solid needles that are inserted in to different specific points on the body. The purpose is to help to correct imbalances of energy in the body so that the conditions and illnesses behind the headaches can be eased or overcome. Some studies suggest that natural pain reducing chemicals – such as endorphins – can be released by the body when it is stimulated through acupuncture.
• Massage – various forms of massage can be helpful for easing certain forms of tension headaches, particularly when they are related to muscle tension in the back, shoulders, and neck. Massage can also help to alleviate stress that could be contributing to the pain.

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