My chronic migraines and headaches started about five years ago. I saw eight of the top headache and pain specialists in New York and was prescribed everything from Imitrex to Botox shots at the back of my head. In total, I think I tried fifteen different types of medication. Nothing worked effectively for me. It was years later that I made the connection between my headaches and mast cell issues. I now have a sense for what triggers me but, very often, my headaches will come and go with no clear patterns. I now treat my headaches almost entirely through natural methods. Here are my top go-to remedies:

  • Heat: an electric heating pad is my saviour! I don’t care if it’s 100°F(38°C) outside, if I have a headache, I will use it. A hot shower also helps but once I get out of the shower, the headache usually comes back

  • Meditation: I try to lie down in a quiet place in complete darkness as light and noise both tend to make my headaches significantly worse. I will then meditate for 20 mins to the best of my ability. You will hear me say this many times but nothing has changed my life as significantly as meditation.  Stress is a huge trigger for headaches and most of the time that we’re stressed, we don’t even know it. Meditation will go a long way to managing your stress levels and has a multitude of other benefits.

  • Essential oils: I dab some peppermint oil on a tissue and inhale it periodically. This only works when my headache is beginning. Once it’s come on full force, peppermint is not effective for me. My mother uses Frankincense but I’ve been more successful with peppermint oil. I’ve also rubbed a small amount on my temples and ears but I find inhaling it to be more effective.

  • The Alexander Technique: this involves completely relaxing the muscles in your body, especially your face and jaw. It takes a lot of practice and I would recommend taking a few classes with someone who is trained in the Alexander Technique to deal with pain management (if you’re in NY, email me for some recommendations!). When pain comes in, our first reaction is to tighten our muscles and fight the pain but this makes matters worse (this is why practising yoga is so helpful because it teaches you have to breathe through the pain). I know it’s completely counter-intuitive, but when the pain starts – accept it and let it wash over you. It will ultimately help to reduce your headache.

  • Curable app: I have a subscription to Curable and will often listen to their guided meditations when I feel a headache coming on.