Integrative Options For Relief From Migraines

Debilitating migraine headaches are triggered in response to various stressors, whether physical or mental, and affect women more frequently than men. While migraines cannot be cured, their symptoms can be mitigated through various strategies.

A migraine is a type of headache caused by changes in the brain. These changes cause abnormal activity in the brain that affects how we see, hear, think and feel. A migraine typically lasts for 4-72 hours, however many patients report a longer duration of their symptoms beyond 72 hours.

What Causes a Migraine?

Migraines can be triggered by a variety of factors, including certain foods, hormonal changes, stress, micronutrient deficiencies, changes in weather, and environmental factors like bright lights or strong smells.

Additionally, genetic factors and a history of head injuries or trauma can also contribute to migraine development.

Limitations of Traditional Migraine Treatments

Conventional medicine often resorts to prescription drugs as the primary solution for migraines, yet these medications can be ineffective, especially if patients experience severe nausea or vomiting.

Many drugs can provoke rebound headaches and cause adverse effects like tingling, nausea, or stomach upset. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may also be unsuitable for some patients.

This one-size-fits-all approach fails to address the unique mechanisms behind each migraine attack, underscoring the need for alternative treatments.

Finding the Root Cause to your Chronic Migraines

In our integrative health practice, we understand that chronic migraine sufferers may need attention on days when they’re not experiencing migraines to pinpoint the root cause of their condition. This is a bit like peeling away layers of an onion, unraveling different aspects of your lifestyle to manage one aspect at a time.

Unlike traditional clinics that often follow a one-size-fits-all model, we recognize that each patient is unique. Many patients have been previously labeled or dismissed due to ineffective healthcare and resources.

Food Allergy / Sensitivity and Migraines

Multiple studies indicate a connection between migraines and IgG reactivity to certain foods.

One study revealed that those with frequent migraines were more likely to test positive for IgG reactivity to common foods. In addition, people with migraines had IgG reactivity to a much greater number of foods compared to people in the control group (who didn’t experience migraines regularly).

More than 75% of people in the migraine group no longer experienced regular migraines after doing a food elimination diet guided by the IgG test results.

In a different study, scientists found that an elimination diet based on IgG antibodies, conducted for six weeks, significantly reduced the frequency of headache days and migraine attacks in a cohort of individuals with migraines.

Food testing results alone, however, do not provide a definitive list of foods that trigger migraines, specifically. High IgG reactivity levels are not always associated with migraine symptoms, however, there is often a strong correlation between IgG reactivity to specific foods and migraines, as demonstrated by these studies.

Micronutrient Deficiency and Migraines

Vitamin D interacts intricately with metabolism, hormones, and genes, all of which affect the body’s ability to process sensory information and the likelihood of experiencing migraine headaches.

The authors of a 2020 review propose that vitamin D has the potential to decrease inflammation and nitric oxide, impact neurotransmitter release, and potentially alleviate pain. These are mechanisms that might be involved in migraine headaches if there is a shortage of this nutrient.

Magnesium works closely with vitamin D in the body, indicating that both nutrients could be crucial in preventing migraine headaches. There is substantial research evidence supporting the connection between magnesium and migraines, as well as the pain-relieving properties of this mineral.

Additionally, magnesium plays a role in neuromuscular function and nerve transmission, and helps guard against excessive neuron stimulation. These attributes might explain how magnesium helps protect against migraine headaches.

Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, is a vital nutrient that supports the mitochondria in our cells, aiding in the production of energy. Since some research has linked mitochondrial dysfunction to migraines, supplementing with riboflavin might help to prevent them.

A literature review from 2017 highlights that five clinical trials demonstrated favorable outcomes of riboflavin in preventing migraine episodes in adults, while four trials showed a mixed impact on children and adolescents.

Hormone Imbalance and Migraines

Women are usually more susceptible to migraines. An underactive thyroid, responsible for regulating the body’s metabolic rate, can result in fluctuating estrogen levels, known to trigger migraines.

This could be why women in menopause or perimenopause often experience more migraine attacks. This link may be attributed to estrogen’s impact on serotonin, a neurotransmitter that influences pain and mood regulation.

Estrogen elevates serotonin levels, so a substantial decrease in estrogen can lead to painful migraines, as well as exacerbate depression and anxiety, which can worsen migraine severity.

Integrative Options For Relief From Migraines

Functional medicine offers an integrative approach to not only alleviate the pain but also address the root causes of migraines. Personalized care plans, lifestyle changes, and natural remedies can work in tandem to provide relief and improve overall well-being. By embracing a comprehensive approach, individuals suffering from migraines can find hope in more sustainable and effective solutions for their condition.

Methylene Blue

Methylene blue, a synthetic chemical compound, has been explored for its potential in managing migraines. This compound has shown promise due to its various pharmacological properties, including its ability to modulate neurotransmitters and neuronal activity.

Omega 3s

Among the most potent Omega-3 fatty acids that are integral to bolstering the immune system and maintaining a balanced inflammatory response are those sourced from fish oil, specifically docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

These fatty acids are renowned for their ability to modulate immune function and reduce inflammation. DHA, in particular, plays a crucial role in the development and function of immune cells, while EPA is instrumental in regulating inflammation.

Together, they form a dynamic duo that supports the body’s immune response and helps maintain a harmonious balance in the inflammatory pathways.


Focusing on quality sleep and stress management can lower the likelihood of migraines. Magnesium, a supplement we highly recommend, is known for its ability to promote a calm mood and restful sleep.

This mineral is crucial for proper blood vessel dilation, which in turn is essential for optimal brain function. Improved blood flow helps in mitigating visual and sensory disturbances associated with migraines.

It also influences brain chemicals like Substance P and glutamate, which play a role in pain sensation.

Vagus Nerve Stimulation

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is a promising therapeutic approach for migraine management. By stimulating the vagus nerve, VNS may help reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks, as well as alleviate associated symptoms such as nausea and photophobia.

Research suggests that VNS modulates neural pathways involved in pain perception and inflammation, offering a novel and potentially effective treatment option for migraine sufferers.

Early studies have shown promising results, with migraine patients experiencing a significant reduction in the number of migraine days per month and improvements in headache intensity and quality of life.

We offer GammaCore VNS in the office.

Bioidentical Hormones

Using bioidentical hormones for migraines offers a customized approach to treatment. With compounded hormones, you can receive precise dosages based on your unique hormonal profile, maximizing benefits while minimizing side effects.

You have a range of administration methods to choose from, including pills, creams, patches, and implantable pellets, making adherence to treatment convenient and comfortable.

Integrative options for relief from migraines offer a holistic approach to managing and preventing these debilitating headaches. By considering lifestyle changes, diet modifications, and targeted supplements, individuals can take proactive steps to reduce the frequency and severity of their migraines.

While these remedies may not work for everyone, they provide alternative options for those seeking to avoid or complement traditional medication.

If you’re ready to overcome debilitating symptoms and take charge of your life, connect with our team today. Our integrative providers can help to determine the most effective treatment plan that meets your specific needs. By incorporating these natural approaches into your routine, you can take control of your migraines and improve your overall quality of life.

Keri Sutton - RN, MSN, ANP-C, AGPCNP-BC

Keri is a Nurse Practitioner and founder at Kare Health & Wellness. Keri's pursuit of personal answers to her own health issues landed her in the top of Functional Medicine. As she utilized functional Medicine to get her own health and life back, she made it her life's work to bring this empowering form of healthcare to as many people as she can.

About Us

Our mission is to create a safe environment for our patients to share their story and be empowered to take control of their health.  We constantly challenge patients to think differently about their health. We never find contentment in simply being disease free. We want to help patients optimize their vitality of life so that they can strive for things that they thought were unattainable.

Scroll to Top