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Migraine? Sniff Peppermint Oil and Put an Ice Pack on Your Throat (Really!) — Plus Other Science-Backed Remedies

Sometimes, a cabinet cure is the best remedy of them all.


As the holiday season gets into full swing, the last thing you want is to be sidelined by a migraine. While barometric pressure changes, dry air and hectic days make flare-ups more likely in the fall, that doesn’t have to be the case: These science-backed, natural fixes — from peppermint oil to rose-colored lenses — may soothe head pain fast, so you don’t miss a moment of fun.

Before it starts, sniff peppermint.

When you feel the first signs of a migraine brewing, take a slow, deep whiff of peppermint oil. The scent works as well as the pain reliever lidocaine, taming both the intensity and frequency of migraine pain, according to a high-quality study in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine. Mint’s menthol relaxes spasming scalp muscles while also improving healing blood flow. The best part? You’ll start to feel relief in as little as five minutes.  

To prevent them, try magnesium.

Up to 80 percent of women are deficient in muscle-relaxing magnesium, which can lead to migraines. Supplementing with 400 milligrams of magnesium glycinate daily curbs the duration and frequency of migraines.

For fast relief, cool down your throat.

For fast relief from migraine pain, head to your freezer and pull out an ice pack. It may sound strange, but placing an ice pack across your throat (not your forehead) eases migraine pain within five minutes, according to a high-quality study from the Hawaii Journal of Medicine & Public Health. The ice pack cools blood in your neck as it makes its way to your brain, soothing pain-triggering inflammation.  

For soothing relief, try a caffeine-ginger combo.

A gingerbread latte doesn’t sound particularly healthy, but in the case of migraines, it could do the trick. Coffee’s caffeine constricts blood vessels, slowing the increased blood flow to the brain that triggers head pain. And ginger works as well as the migraine med sumatriptan, easing pain by 90 percent in two hours, a study in Phytotherapy Research found. Also smart: sipping chai tea, which contains migraine-busting caffeine and ginger.  

Note: While sugar may alleviate migraines in some people, it’s a common trigger in others. If you believe sugar triggers your migraines, consider a sugar-free ginger drink.

If light is a bother, don rosy shades.

Don’t have time to close your eyes? Wearing lenses with a rosy tint called FL-41 can ease migraine pain by blocking 80 percent of the fluorescent light that both triggers and worsens migraine pain, a study in the Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology found. A brand to try: SomniLight FL-41 Glasses (Buy from Amazon, $49.99).

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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