Migraine: Ayurvedic treatment, Herbs, Home Remedies

Migraine is a burning health problem of modern age, affecting more than 1 in 10. Suitable lifestyle changes, Ayurvedic therapies and medicines hold the key in treating migraine. In Ayurveda this condition is referred as ‘Sooryavarta’ . Soorya means ‘Sun’ and avarta means ‘affliction’ or ‘blockage’. The headache gets worsened on sunrise, peaks during noon hours and reduces in the evening. Even though this is the typical feature of this illness, it may not be true in all cases. Symptoms may vary based on body types and habits.

Migraine is caused by excessive stimulation of brain and blood vessels. Migraine headache is usually associated with one sided throbbing headache, with nausea (tendency of vomiting), vomiting and sensitivity to light. Some people get warning symptoms called aura, having visual changes, just ahead of migraine episode.

Causes

Migraine causes as per Ayurveda:
Suppression of natural urges
Indigestion
Intake of polluted food
Exposure to sunshine for prolonged period
Oily and spicy food
Anger, jealousy, grief, stress etc
Intake of dry, pungent and salty food etc

migraine

Migraine attacks can be caused by:
Alcohol or smoking
Sudden stopping of intake of coffee / tea
Changes in hormone levels during a woman’s menstrual cycle or with the use of birth control pills
Changes in sleep patterns – excess sleep or less sleep
Exercise or other physical stress
Excessive stimulation or stress on sense organs by loud noises, bright lights, strong perfumes / odours,
Fasting
Stress and anxiety

Foods that can trigger migraine: 
Usually foods that can cause sudden increase of Kapha dosha or Pitta Dosha triggers a migraine attack.
Baked foods, chocolate, dairy foods, heavy-to-digest non veg foods, Onion, peanuts, processed foods, fermented foods, spicy foods can cause migraine.

Origin of migraine

Origin of migraine headache:
Due to the causative factors, Pitta Dosha obstructs the flow of Vata dosha in brain, causing throbbing pain. In case of Suryavarta type of headache, because Pitta is dominant in the afternoon, headache is at peak. The condition calms down by the dusk.

Symptoms

Symptoms of migraine:
Usually migraines are initiated by aura – visual disturbances. These disturbances can be – blind spot in front of eyes, blurred vision, seeing bright light, zig zag lights, lines etc.
Some may get pre-migraine signs such as yawning, mild confusion, vomiting sensation etc.

Nature of headache

Nature of migraine headache: 
pain over the eyebrows,
Headache worsening on exposure to sunshine
Throbbing pain
Pulsating pain, pain increasing with every pulse
One sided or two side headache, lasting for a few hours to up to 2 – 3 days.
Pain may radiate to neck and even to the shoulder of same side.

shirodhara

Ayurvedic therapies

Ayurvedic therapies for migraine: 
Shirolepa – Application of herbal pastes which pacify Pitta Dosha like Sandalwood, camphor, Jatamansi.
Shiro Dhara – pouring of thin stream of liquid over scalp.

Taila dhara with oils like ksheerabala taila, chandanadi taila is carried out where Vata involvement is high.
ksheera dhara (cow milk) is done when Pitta involvement is more
Takra Dhara (buttermilk) is done when there is obstruction to Vata passage is to be removed.
Kavala graha – Oil pulling, with chandanadi taila, mahanarayana taila
Shirovasti – Retaining the medicated oils over the leather cap fitted over the scalp. Any vata-pitta pacifying oils are beneficial for this purpose.
Sneha nasya – Instillation of medicated oils can be carried to the nostrils. Shadbindu taila or Anu taila yield significant benefits in this condition.

Useful herbs

Herbs useful in migraine
Yastimadhu – Indian licorice – Glycyrrhiza glabra
Sariva – Hemidesmus indicus
Hareetaki – Chebulic myrobalan-Terminalia chebula
Amalaki – amala – Eemblica officinalis
Bala – Sida cardifolia
Mallika – Jasminum officinarum
Kumari – Aloe vera

Ayurvedic medicines

Ayurvedic medicines useful in migraine: 
Pathyadi khada – used in the treatment of headache, earache, pain in temporal region, migraine etc.
Shirashooladi vajra rasa – used in the Ayurvedic treatment of headache, migraine, tension headache, vascular headache etc.
Mayura ghrita
Bhoonimbadi khada
– Used in fever, cold, sinusitis, headache 
Kamadugha rasa (mouktika yukta) 
– Used in all high Pitta conditions
Chandrakala rasa
Saptamrita rasa
Sudhanidhi rasa
Kumaryasava
Godanti Bhasma – 250 mg of this medicine is given twice a day. In many occasions, it gives immediate relief from migraine, within 20 – 30 minutes, much faster than Paracetamol (By Mr.P.A Vora) 

Ayurvedic home remedies

Simple home remedies useful in migraine headache:
1. Tender leaves of jasmine or tender leaves of pomegranate are taken along with a pinch of salt and crushed well to obtain fresh juice. Early in the morning, preferably in empty stomach, 2-3 drops of this fresh juice is instilled to both the nostrils. Procedure is repeated once again evening hours (6-7 pm). This reduces the severity of headache in migraine.

2. One fist full of Doorva grass (cynodan dactylon) is taken and its fresh juice is obtained. To this, 2 pinch of licorice powder is added and mixed well. This is consumed during the noon hours. Procedure is repeated for 20-30 days. This helps to reduce the severity of illness significantly.

3. Take coriander seed powder – 1 teaspoon. add it to one cup of water, leave it as it is for whole night, next day morning, drink it on empty stomach.

4. Soak 5 raisins and 5 almonds in water at night, next day morning, eat them.

5. Saffron home remedy for migraine (click to read more)

Stress and anxiety and migraine:
Stress and anxiety may act as trigger factors or migraine patients tend to develop anxiety and depression over a period of time. Hence, leading a well organised, stress free life is key in controlling migraine.
Related:
Anxiety tips and remedies
Stress symptoms and relief

Other factors

Migraine and constipation:
In many cases, migraine patient often suffers from constipation and gastritis symptoms such as burning sensation in stomach, bloating etc. In them,treating constipation is very effective in reducing migraine attacks and intensity.

Migraine and Pranayama:
In many patients, Pranayama techniques requiring holding breath may cause or worsen an attack. Hence, resorting to simpler techniques like Anulom Vilom Pranayama or avoiding holding of breath for long is advised.

Migraine and women:
Migraine is seen in women nearing to periods and in elderly nearing menopause. In them, treatment for hormonal balance is useful.

Tips

Do not take pain mitigating medicines frequently. Over intake of pain medicines may cause rebound headache and may eventually increase the frequency of migraines.
Make sure to sleep and eat at regular intervals.
Make sure to sleep at least 7 hours at night.
Avoid fasting. It will increase both Pitta and Vata dosha, worsening migraines. Do not skip meals.
Use a very mild deodorant / perfume
Quit smoking and get rid of alcoholic addiction
Do not drink strong coffee / tea. Make it light.
Do not abruptly stop taking coffee or tea. Be very gradual in withdrawal.
Try to avoid pubs and clubs with loud music and flashy bright lights
Wear sunglasses wherever possible.
Make sure to have proper ventilation at your place. Do not use a/c for long period of time.
Early morning walking for 10 minutes in fresh air will help you immensely.
If you get time, go to a nearby Ayurveda centre and get massage with Maha Narayana Taila. (once a week).
Or take the oil and do massage yourself once a week and then take bath.
Use an umbrella or hat to protect yourself from direct Sun.
Avoid or restrict green chilli use.
You can have cinnamon, cardamom, clove, ginger and pepper.
Do not hear to loud sounds.
Try to control your anger.
Lower computer / TV screen brightness
Do not take too hot water bath or too cold water bath.
Watch for those things or foods that trigger a migraine attack. Make a list of them and avoid them.

Migraine headache is a troublesome health complaint in significant number of patients. Some are having hereditary contribution too. In some other victims, junk food, irregular food habits, untimely food intake etc can be traced. Even through these are not the exact factors of origin of the disease, surely they act as provoking factors for the illness.
In addition, stress, night awakening, tour and travel, cosmetics (body spray, deodorants etc),smoking  are found to be contributing in worsening this condition. Hence, a well disciplined lifestyle will arm you better to keep away migraine attacks.
Article by Dr Krishnamurthy and Dr Hebbar

Breathing Exercise

By Ms Lisa Shoreland
Although there are many Western treatments that are known to help treat migraines, many of them are packed full of chemicals that could cause side-effects or cause psychological and physical damage to your brain and/or body.

It is believed that migraines are caused by spasms in the arteries that supply blood to the brain, but scientific studies have proven that the cause of migraines could be related to stress and/or an imbalance in the body, such as improper digestion.

So if migraines are caused by stress or an imbalance in the brain or body, why pump your body full of chemicals when yoga can give you a healthy dose of relaxation and balance?
When you’re suffering from a migraine, going to a yoga class may seem like the last thing that will help treat the pounding in your head. Here are two simple breathing exercises you can try at home that are known to be effective in treating migraines:

1. Nadi Sodhana (Alternate nostril breathing)

  • Close your right nostril with your thumb
  • Use your left nostril to do all the breathing
  • Continue for 5 minutes
  • Repeat every two hours

This breathing exercise is extremely effective in helping to calm the brain and nervous system. Because we don’t breathe equally in both of our nostrils, doing this exercise can help clean the nasal passages and balance both sides of your brain. (It has been scientifically proven that the function of our nasal cycle is directly related to the function of our brain). Thus trying this breathing exercise will not only clean and rejuvenate your nasal passages, it will also help you feel more balanced as well.

2. Cooling Pranayama

  • Sit in a crossed-legged position
  • Curl the sides of your tongue so it forms a “tube” shape, or make an “o” shape with your mouth
  • Inhale through your tongue
  • Swallow
  • Exhale through your nose (be sure to keep your mouth closed)

As soon as you exhale you immediately start to feel relaxed as your body’s temperature begins to cool down, (hence the name of this exercise). Essentially the purpose of this breathing exercise is to supply your body with oxygen, which can help give energy to your brain, nerves, and other vital organs while stimulating the endocrine glands.

Saffron Remedy

Saffron is very widely used in Ayurveda treatment. Here is a simple  and effective Ayurvedic home remedy using saffron and ghee to relieve migraine type of headache. 
Ayurvedic Migraine Home Remedy Using Saffron – YouTube

What you need –
Saffron – fine powder – 1 small pinch.
Ghee – 1 teaspoon.

How to prepare?
Add the small pinch of saffron to a teaspoon of ghee and mix thoroughly.

How to use?
This fine mixture of saffron and ghee (clarified butter) is instilled into each nostril early in the morning, on empty stomach. (Nasya treatment)
Better to do a facial massage with plain sesame oil or Maha Narayana taila  followed by mild hot fomentation with a towel dipped in hot water over the face, before instilling 2 drops of saffron-ghee into each nostril.
After instilling, it is better not to take bath or food for 20 minutes.
Some people may expel mucus from nostrils after this treatment.
As a measure of precaution, it is better to start with one drop to each nostril.
This remedy can be continued for a period of two weeks.

Better to avoid this remedy during cloudy days.
It is best to take up this home remedy after consulting your Ayurvedic doctor.

Reference

कुंकुमं घृत संयुक्तं नस्यं च अर्धशिरोव्यथां नाशयेत् क्षणादेव ।
– भारत भैषज्य रत्नाकर

kuṃkumaṃ ghṛta saṃyuktaṃ nasyaṃ ca ardhaśirovyathāṃ nāśayet kṣaṇādeva |
bhārata bhaiṣajya ratnākara

Sandalwood paste

Applying sandalwood paste on the forehead can relieve migraine pain. Watch youtube video here

Yogasana

The Yogasanas for migraine are designed to balance the blood flow and vascular health of the brain. Shirshana might cause too strong a blood flow to the head, hence often not recommended by Yogis. However, other Asanas that require slight lowering of the head are advised. Often these are coupled with Asanas that make your stay in the top position.
Hastapadasana – Standing forward bend – Here, the head is bent downward.
Padmasana – Lotus pose – This would bring down the blood supply
Setubandhasana – Bridge pose – Causes mild increase of blood flow to brain
The below four poses involve just a small downward bending of head
Shishu Asana – Child pose
Marjarasana – Cat Pose / Cat Stretch
Paschimottanasana – Two-legged forward bend
Adhomukha Shwanasana – Downward facing dog pose – Again this brings extra flow of blood to the brain
Bhujangasana – This brings the head upward
Shavasana – Corpse pose – Finally doing Shavasana causes balancing of blood flow and prevents you from feeling dizzy.

49 thoughts on “Migraine: Ayurvedic treatment, Herbs, Home Remedies”

    • In cases of Migraine due to Vata increase, Rasayanas based on Ashwagandha, Shatavari or Kooshmanda are useful.

      Reply
      • Thanks Dear Doctor. I was wondering what would be the role of very well acclaimed Rasayans like Brahma Rasayana and Chyavanprash in treatment of Migraine?

        Reply
        • In Migraine, it is not having direct role. But it improves digestion strength, metabolism and immunity. Lack of these are indirect causes for migraine.
          Being good anti oxidants, they also treat free radicals and relieve physical and mental stress, indirectly helping in migraine.

          Reply
  1. I am in the twelfth week of pregnancy and am 25 yrs. I have had an acute vata problem since 2 years post marriage. Now while pregnant the problem has aggravated beyond tolerance with severe unbearable headaches with constipation. My ayurvedic doctor cannot be contacted due to distance problem and the Gynecologist does not understand what is Vata. I wish to know what immediate medicines or remedies I can take when surfaced with such acute headache and constipation. Please help. The Gynecologist gave me a Crocin the other day which I took half but it did not help at all.

    Reply
    • Hi, During pregnancy, it is very dangerous to follow online Ayurvedic advice. Consult your gynecologist again, who would give medicines for migraine and constipation.

      Reply
  2. Doctor… I would like to share my experience recently with headache… I got up from bed with headache as I had dreams…..I crushed 3 jasmine flowers and applied it over the forehead till the sideburns area…..I had instant cooling effect and the headache came down within 10 minutes….can you please elaborate more on ayurvedic properties of Jasmine flower…like guna etc…and would like to know whether it will be useful only in headache caused by vata and pitta

    Reply
    • Dear sir,
      There is no specific syrup for Migraine. But you can use Juice of Giloy in 10ml doses with honey.

      Reply
  3. The cause of Migraine can be many some of them include: Nutritional Defeiciency, Lack of sleep,Menopause,Excessive work, Stress etc., Please do rule out the cause by consulting a Ayurvedic physician and start the course of treatment.

    Reply
  4. Lot of benefited shirshooladi vajra ras and godant bhasam and misri.mix all and take with milk morning and evening with milk.beneficial in migrain our vaid ji using since last many years.

    Reply
    • Hi, both shirshooladi Vajra ras and Godant bhasam should be used strictly under medical supervision. It can be said as a generalized medicine for migraine.

      Reply
  5. Sir, I Am havIng migraine problem For 6 class. It pains Alot.plz tell me about medicines too eradicate migrane

    Reply
    • Sir, There are many ayurvedic therapies you can undergo like
      • Shirodhara
      • Shirolepa
      • Sneha nasya
      • Kavala graha
      For these take a advise from a ayurvedic physician before taking any medicine.

      Reply
  6. Because, on cloudy days, doing nasya may cause nasal allergic symptoms in a few sensitive people.
    In your case, follow all Nasya rules very strictly – Read about them here – easyayurveda.com/2013/08/12/how-to-do-ayurvedic-nasya-treatment-at-home-nasal-drops-for-long-life/

    Reply
  7. Hello Sir,

    I have migraine headache and i used to vomit.I have more Pitta. If i reduce Pitta will migraine be prevented? What are the ways to reduce pitta? Please suggest me

    Reply
  8. Hi, it might be useful. But because your condition is prevalent since such a long time, it is best for you to consult an Ayurveda doctor directly.

    Reply
  9. Thanks doctor for the excellent article.

    I have migraine for past 5 years and have taken some ayurvedic medicines but still could not get complete relief. I have seen pankajakasthuri’s migraine oil and tablet over Internet. Some say they may contain steroids. So I am confused and seeking any professional advice. Please suggest me whether I can try it.
    Thank you Doctor.

    Reply
  10. I suffer from headache wen I inhale strong or pungent smell. The headache is associated with nausea. Wat is the exact cause??
    I am confused because the same smell at one time may give headache but at some other time it will not give headache.

    Reply
  11. I GET SEVERE HEADACHES IF I DO NOT EAT IN EVERY TWO THREE HOURS. i FIND IT DIFFICULT TO KEEP EATING OFTEN , IS THERE A WAY TO REDUCE THAT HEADACHE?

    Reply
  12. I also tried lavender essential oil, it relieved pain for sometime.
    Is there any other more effective medicine or essential oil for my headache.

    Reply
  13. Sir avipattikarchooran before meal and triphla chooran at night works in migraine in the female patient age of 70 migraine with constipation?

    Reply
  14. Dear Dr,
    Kindly suggest a ayurveda medicine for menstrual migraine. Also please let me know if there is a home remedy. Thank you sir

    Reply
  15. Please consult at
    Aishvaryas Ayurvedic Treatment Centre
    C2/2, K.R.R Nagar Housing Unit, NRT Nagar, Theni, Tamil Nadu 625531

    Reply
  16. Thank you very much doctors..
    Very informative !! Simple Clear and logical explanations..
    Thanks again

    Reply

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