Dr. Shivang Joshi discusses alternative treatment methods that can help provide migraine relief

Issues like conflicting medications, previous adverse reactions and conflicting medical conditions can often prevent people from using prescription migraine medications. When circumstances like these arise, many turn to non-pharmacological approaches to migraine management. While these options cannot typically relieve the pain of an active migraine, they do work to prevent migraine onset.

“Migraine is a biopsychosocial disorder, meaning it’s a brain disorder that also has environmental, social and psychological factors that affect it,” said Dr. Shivang Joshi, Neurologist and Headache Specialist at the Dent Neurologic Institute. “That’s why it’s important to have a comprehensive treatment approach that includes a variety of non-pharmacological approaches.

In a recent Facebook Live event hosted by the American Migraine Foundation, Dr. Joshi discussed various lifestyle modifications and therapies that can be used to prevent the onset of migraine. All of the methods discussed can be worked into your daily routine without sacrificing any time from your day.


Start With Good Sleep Hygiene

Joshi stressed the importance of proper sleep hygiene as a preventive measure for migraine. “Sleep hygiene is very important to many disorders, not just migraine,” said Joshi, “It’s important to make sure you’re going to bed and waking up within the same time period. You should also avoid engaging in activities that will stimulate your mind near the time you’re supposed to be going to bed.”

Habits like checking your phone, reading and over-consuming caffeine can overstimulate the brain, making it difficult to get a good night’s rest. Creating a wind-down routine that limits these activities may help migraine management. Patients that use caffeine to prevent migraine attacks may want to consider drinking a cup throughout the day, rather than in one sitting.

“Another thing to pay attention to in regards to sleep and headache is teeth grinding or clenching,” said Joshi. “Frequent teeth grinding can become a source of jaw pain, which will eventually lead to some pain in the temporal area of the head. This can be easily prevented with the use of a mouth guard.”

Stay Hydrated

Staying adequately hydrated also plays an important role in migraine management, especially in warmer climates. Dehydration can cause less blood and oxygen to flow to the brain, which can cause migraine.

“Make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day, and not just regular fluids. Fluids that contain electrolytes are extremely beneficial as well,” said Joshi. “The goal is to prevent any fluctuations in blood sugar balance because the brain does not like change. Any sharp biological changes can cause a migraine.”

Take Your Vitamins

“There is plenty of evidence supporting the effectiveness of vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, for migraine management,” said Joshi. “Riboflavin has a very short half-life, meaning it’s cleared from the body quickly. That’s why it’s encouraged to take it twice a day, once in the morning and once in the late afternoon.”

“I also typically recommend magnesium, particularly for menstrual and perimenopausal migraine,” said Joshi. “When I make this recommendation, many people assume that they must have a magnesium deficiency and attempt to add as many magnesium-rich foods into their diet as possible. I can assure you, that is not usually the case.”

When asked whether a certain type of magnesium was preferable for migraine treatment, Joshi said that people with migraine should choose whichever one they find to be the most tolerable. Magnesium sulfate, magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide have all shown similar results in terms of migraine management.

Knowledge is a powerful tool for migraine management, so it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest news and research. The American Migraine Foundation maintains a comprehensive resource library full of fact sheets, toolkits and advice sourced directly from the nation’s leading migraine specialists. Visit AMF’s website to learn more and to find a headache doctor near you.