Migraine Treatments and Therapies


Click here to download our booklet on complementary treatments for migraine.


People with migraine often need to make lifestyle changes or take medication to help control their migraine.  This section helps to explain more about the different types of migraine treatments available for individuals. 

Please remember that the information in this section is general, and it is important that you discuss any concerns or problems you may have with your medications and treatments, with your GP or neurologist.

The migraine treatments available are:

Acute Treatments   Complementary Treatments   Preventative Treatments   Self Help Measures

Are you concerned about the side effects of your medication? If so, you are not the only one! Many people are worried and are looking to explore complementary treatments, but do they work and should you be cautious?

Whilst it is important to be open minded, any treatment, intervention or medication (whether traditional or alternative, bought over the counter or prescribed by a health professional) should be considered with a healthy degree of scepticism.

Although many branches of complementary medicine have excellent training and accreditation procedures in place, you should always make sure you use a reputable therapist with recognised qualifications or monitoring.

Please view our guidelines to see how you can get the most from complementary practitioners.  To download a booklet about complementary treatments, please click here

What is complementary therapy?

There are many different types of complementary therapies (CAM) out, and these should not be considered in isolation but as part of an overall approach to general well being (including improved control of headache and migraine).

CAM practitioners take a holistic view of health (i.e. viewing the whole person, not just a particular part of them, as often happens in mainstream medicine) taking into account all symptoms, individual preferences, lifestyle and family history. Usually, they will spend a long time during the first consultation asking many different questions which you may feel are totally unrelated to your migraine.

For details of other associations for complementary medicine, please click here. Your GP surgery may have a list of accredited practitioners in your area.  Below is a list of treatments for which there is some evidence of helping migraineurs. Please click on the links below to find out more:


In 2015 the NICE guidelines detailed the use of acupuncture, particularly for those who had found both topiramate and propanolol unsuitable and ineffective, as a treatment option for headache and migraine.  Its treatment consists of small fine sterile needles being inserted into your skin at certain points; they may be left in for just a few seconds or for several minutes.

The British Acupuncture Council

To find out more and find an acupucturist near you visit The British Acupuncture Council 

  Homeopathic remedies for migraine

The principle of homoeopathy is treating like with like.  Particular substances have been shown to produce certain symptoms in healthy individuals; a heavily diluted form is given to cure a sick person who has these symptoms.  The dilutions can range from one drop of the active ingredient in 99 drops of water (1/100 or 1c) or diluted further by one drop of the 1c solution in another 99 drops of water (1/1000 or 2c) and still further with one drop of the 2c solution to another 99 drops of water (1/100000 or 3c).  The minimum effective dose is used.  Remedies are usually supplied in very small tablets to be dissolved on the tongue.

read more... Although, homeopathic remedies can be bought over the counter, it is advisable to consult a homeopath as there are over 100 remedies that can be prescribed for headache disorders, according to the needs of each individual.




Manipulative Therapies

Manipulative Therapies
Some of the therapies currently available in the UK include:

  • Chiropractic
  • McTimoney Corley Chiropractic
  • Osteopathy
  • Cranial Osteopathy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Bowen Technique
  • Reflexology

read more... • Chiropractic: diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the effects of these disorders on general health. Emphasis is on manual treatments including spinal manipulation. (General Chiropractic Council 2004).
• Also McTimoney Corley Chiropractic: a gentler form of chiropractic
• Osteopathy: a way of detecting and treating damaged parts of the body such as muscles, ligaments, nerves and joints. (General Osteopathic Council 2004)
• Cranial Osteopathy: a very gentle manipulation of the bones of the skull. This is believed to be particularly helpful for people who experienced a difficult birth.
• Physiotherapy: concerned with human function and movement and maximising potential. It uses physical approaches to promote, maintain and restore physical, psychological and social well-being. (Chartered Society of Physiotherapy 2004)
• Bowen Technique: a very gentle therapy, applying light pressure to re-channel the body's energy for healing.
• Reflexology: a gentle massage/manipulation of the feet. It is believed that particular areas of the feet relate to certain organs in the body.

These treatments are usually self-funded as they are not commonly available under the NHS.

  Physical Therapies

Physical Therapies
These techniques are designed to manage symptoms:

  • Biofeedback
  • Alexander Technique
  • Relaxation

read more... • Biofeedback: a method of educating your body to induce certain responses and thus control your symptoms. This requires training and practice, but good results have been experienced with children.
• Alexander Technique: postural re-integration and (un)learning, with particular emphasis on relationship between head and neck. This requires training and practice.
• Relaxation: anything that helps you lower stress levels and encourage relaxation can be beneficial. This may be deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation (as taught at ante-natal classes), yoga, meditation or just taking a few minutes to yourself.

Click here to download our booklet.




Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and Minerals
Food supplements which have proved beneficial in migraine prevention include:

  • Magnesium click here to download further information
  • Vitamin B2 click here to download further information
  • Co-enzyme Q10 click here to download further information
  • Ginger

read more... • Magnesium: To be taken as magnesium - 500 mg daily.
• Vitamin B2: 400 mg daily - this is much higher than the recommended daily allowance and you will not obtain the required amount from a B-complex product.
• Co-enzyme Q10
• Ginger: can be helpful in treating nausea associated with migraine and there is some evidence of efficacy in preventing attacks.

For details of an open study investigating the effects of co-enzyme Q10 on patients with migraine, click here

  Herbal Remedies

Herbal Remedies
An herbalist after a consultation will prepare a combination of plants (usually dried to prepare as an infusion) according to your individual needs.  Beware of buying loose dried plants for medicinal purposes in High Street herbal shops as the quality control cannot be guaranteed, and staff may not be adequately trained to advise you.  Some herbal remedies are effective in helping migraine and they are listed below:

  • Feverfew: 4-6 fresh leaves daily or 50mg in dried form. For more information, please click here.
  • Butterbur petasin: 50 mg twice daily. Do not eat the fresh plant as it is poisonous! Please click here for more information




Allergy Tests

Allergy Tests
There are various methods of testing for allergies that are available, with the prices and the sensitivity of the tests varying.  Many people take these tests to try to find out whether their migraine is triggered by certain foods.

  Dental Work

Dental Work
Migraine can be triggered by problems with the teeth and jaw. Clenching the jaw or grinding the teeth, especially whilst asleep, can trigger attacks; some people have noted an improvement after being fitted with a dental splint to wear overnight.

read more... Problems with the alignment of the teeth or jaw can also be implicated, but rectifying this can require substantial remedial work by a specialist and could involve the fitting of braces etc.
Limited research has suggested that migraine can be triggered by the mercury in fillings, and some people have benefited by having the mercury removed and replaced by alternative materials which are considered safer.
None of these are normally available on the NHS and specialised treatment can be very expensive.

Click here to download the information booket on migraine and jaw tension.




Tinted lenses

Tinted Lenses
Flicker and glare may derive from various light sources and can trigger a migraine attack. Click here to read more.
Various types of tinted spectacle lenses which claim to reduce/prevent migraine are available. Migralens is one of many products that are available.
Reports of efficacy are mixed and mainly anecdotal, although some people do find substantial benefit. A trial of one particular type of lens has recently been completed and results are expected soon.

  Other Complementary Therapies

Other Therapies
Some people have found the following helpful in relieving the symptoms of migraine:

  • Cooling applications to the head and neck (there are numerous masks, caps and gel patches available)
  • Peppermint to help reduce nausea (e.g. sweets, tea etc.)
  • Lavender (which is available in various different forms from health stores or supermarkets) can be inhaled or rubbed onto the temples helping you to relax.