What Are the Best Non-Medication Treatments for Reducing Migraine Frequency and Severity?

March 22, 2024

Migraines, a type of severe headache often accompanied by light sensitivity, nausea and visual disturbances, are a common health issue affecting many people across the globe. According to Google’s health data, many individuals seek alternatives to traditional medication-based therapies. When the throbbing, pounding pain of a migraine hits, it can be debilitating to the point where every day tasks become impossible. But what do the scholars say about non-medication treatments? Are there methods for reducing the severity and frequency of migraines that do not involve popping a pill? Let’s delve into the latest research and see what the experts recommend.

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Complementary and alternative therapies have gained popularity as people search for natural ways to manage chronic conditions like migraines. They offer patients the possibility of reducing the frequency and severity of their headaches without relying on medication.

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Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese healing technique, is a prime example of a non-medication treatment for migraines. The therapy involves inserting fine, sterile needles into specific points on the body to balance energy flow. Studies indexed in PubMed have found that acupuncture can significantly reduce the frequency of migraines, and that the effects may be long-lasting.

In a meta-analysis of 22 trials involving 4985 participants, researchers concluded that acupuncture can serve as an effective treatment for migraine prophylaxis. The study revealed that in comparison to standard care, acupuncture resulted in fewer migraine days and less intense migraines.

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Biofeedback and Relaxation Training

Biofeedback and relaxation training are techniques used to help individuals control their body’s response to stress or pain. Sensors attached to your body monitor functions like heart rate, muscle tension, and brain waves. This information is fed back to you in real time, helping you learn to consciously regulate these functions.

A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback found that biofeedback, in combination with relaxation training, could reduce both the frequency and intensity of migraines. Participants learned to control their body’s stress response, reducing the triggers for their migraines.

Lifestyle Changes

Making certain lifestyle modifications can also significantly impact the frequency and severity of migraines. These changes mainly involve establishing regular patterns of sleep, meal times, and exercise, as well as avoiding known triggers.

Regular Sleep Patterns

Inconsistent sleep patterns are often associated with an increase in migraine attacks. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, researchers discovered that people who have consistent sleep-wake times experienced fewer migraines. Establishing a regular sleep schedule helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythms, which in turn can reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.

Regular Meal Times

Skipping meals or fasting can trigger migraines in some individuals. Maintaining regular meal times and a balanced diet can help prevent blood sugar fluctuations, a common migraine trigger.

Regular Exercise

Engaging in regular physical activity is another lifestyle change that can help manage migraines. A study published in the journal Cephalalgia found that regular aerobic exercise reduced the frequency, severity and duration of migraines in its study participants. It suggested that exercise impacts the release of certain chemicals in the brain that are associated with migraines.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation have gained traction in recent years as effective non-medicinal therapies for a variety of chronic conditions, including migraines.


Mindfulness involves maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. A study published in the American Journal of Medicine revealed that people who practice mindfulness experienced less frequent and less severe migraines. It posits that mindfulness reduces stress, a common migraine trigger.


Meditation, a practice where an individual uses a technique to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state, can also be helpful for people suffering from migraines. A study in the journal Headache found that people who completed a course of mindfulness-based stress reduction, which includes meditation, reported fewer and less severe migraines.

Dietary Supplements

Certain dietary supplements have been found to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. However, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any supplement regimen.


Magnesium is a mineral that’s involved in many processes in the body, including nerve transmission. Low levels of magnesium have been associated with migraines in several studies. Taking magnesium supplements can help maintain adequate levels and potentially reduce migraine frequency.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a substance that helps convert food into energy. A study published in Neurology found that people who took CoQ10 supplements had fewer migraines than those who didn’t.

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

Riboflavin is a vitamin that’s needed for growth and overall good health. It helps the body break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats to produce energy, and it allows oxygen to be used by the body. Studies have shown that high-dose riboflavin can be an effective prophylactic treatment for reducing the frequency of migraines.

In conclusion, a wide range of non-medication treatments can reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. These include complementary and alternative therapies, lifestyle changes, mindfulness and meditation, and dietary supplements. However, it’s important to note that what works for one person may not work for another. Migraine treatment should be individualized, taking into account the person’s symptoms, triggers, and overall health status. It’s always a good idea to discuss any new treatment, even a non-medication one, with a healthcare provider.

Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies are gaining recognition in the reduction of frequency and severity of migraines. These natural treatments, often sourced from plants, have been used in traditional medicine for centuries and are now being validated by modern studies.


Feverfew, a medicinal plant, has been used traditionally to manage migraines. In a review of feverfew studies on Google Scholar, it was found that feverfew can prevent the onset of migraine attacks. The plant’s anti-inflammatory properties help to reduce the inflammation that often accompanies migraines.


Butterbur, another medicinal plant, has also been highlighted in migraine prevention. A study indexed in PubMed showed that butterbur (Petasites hybridus) can effectively decrease the frequency of migraine attacks when taken as a supplement. The study indicated that the plant extract impacts serotonin receptors and inflammation, both of which are linked to migraine pathophysiology.

Physical Therapies

Physical therapies such as massage, chiropractic adjustments, and physiotherapy can also play a role in managing migraines.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy can help to alleviate the physical stress that contributes to migraines. A study published by the Mayo Clinic found that massage therapy can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of chronic migraines. The study suggested that massage therapy can help to reduce the muscle tension that often triggers migraine headaches.

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care, which involves spinal adjustments and manipulations, may also aid in reducing the frequency and severity of migraines. A PubMed article highlighted a study that found significant improvement in episodic migraines for patients who underwent chiropractic treatment. The chiropractic patients also reported fewer side effects than those taking medication.


Physiotherapy can also be beneficial in managing migraines. A study indexed in PubMed showed that patients who participated in a physiotherapy program experienced a significant reduction in migraine frequency and severity. The study suggested that physiotherapy can help to manage the physical triggers of migraines, such as poor posture and muscle tension.


In conclusion, non-medication treatments can be effective in managing the frequency and severity of migraines. The usage of complementary and alternative therapies, lifestyle changes, mindfulness and meditation, dietary supplements, herbal remedies, and physical therapies all offer promising avenues for migraine treatment.

However, it is critical to remember that each individual’s migraine experience is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. Therefore, it is paramount to work with healthcare providers to individualize treatment plans for chronic and episodic migraines. Regular discussions about treatment progress and any potential side effects should also be held to ensure the utmost care and efficacy in treatment.

By exploring these non-medication options, patients have the potential to reduce their dependence on pharmaceuticals and improve their overall quality of life. It’s clear that the growing body of research underscores the multitude of ways in which migraines can be managed without medication, providing hope and options for the millions of people worldwide living with migraines.