Have you ever tried an unproven remedy to treat migraine? I’ve tried a lot of them. Some worked, some didn’t, and some I still use. My headache doctor offers a lot of patient education on triggers, lifestyle, complementary treatments, and stress management. Because he is a migraineur, too, his advice is practical and reasonable. Yet even his tips aren’t always enough. Over the years I have learned by trial and error that some things just work. I don’t know why they do. There is no research to support my experience. Yet I feel better and get fewer migraine attacks because of everything, not just medical treatments.
I love my quarterly Botox injections. This one treatment was the single biggest game changer in all my years of living with migraine. The only other treatment that ever came close was the use of triptans to abort an attack. Even so, I wouldn’t dream of only using these two options. Many of the treatments I use are supported by research. Others have no scientific support at all, but they work for me.
Here are some examples of treatments I have tried that have limited or no scientific support:
- Chiropractic adjustments
- Myofascial release therapy
- Massage therapy
- Essential oils
- Dietary supplements
- Low tyramine diet
- Avoiding artificial sugars
- Ice packs
- Hot packs
- Hot showers
- Magnesium-infused hydrotherapy
- Pain relief ointments and patches
- Theraspecs eyeglasses
- Noise-cancelling headphones
- Silicone ear plugs
- Light dimmers
- Hypnotherapy recordings
- …and many more!
Do I recommend all of these treatments to you? No way! If something on my list interests you, I suggest you talk to your headache specialist, do your own research, and make a joint decision on what’s best for your unique situation. If you don’t have a headache specialist, I’d recommend you get one before you make even one more treatment decision. Having an expert on your team can mean the difference between good migraine management and daily migraine attacks that are nearly impossible to treat.
Migraine research is still woefully underfunded. The NIH allocates about 53¢ per patient per year for migraine research. The rest is up to academic grants and pharmaceutical research. That doesn’t leave much room to study alternative or complementary treatments. It’s just not possible for scientists to cover every possible treatment with so little money. Even if researchers discover that a given treatment is ineffective, that doesn’t mean it won’t work for some people. It just means that the majority of people won’t benefit. Who knows, maybe you’re the only one for whom that treatment works. But if you get relief, you won’t care what science says, now will you?
Here’s the rub with unproven treatments: I have a huge problem with people who try to promote unproven methods as “the cure” or make claims based on incorrect information and/or anecdotal evidence. It is one thing to share what works and quite another to sell that “fix” to everyone without a shred of scientific evidence. If something works for you, GREAT. I will be the first one in line to cheer you on. Try to make a quick buck off desperate people, and I will call you out on it every time.