Finding Migraine Relief: What Are the Options?

How to Find Migraine Relief

Migraine Relief
When it comes to alleviating the pain and symptoms associated with migraine, there are many avenues one can take. Treating migraine can be a very integrative process.

In this article, we will talk about traditional pain relievers as well as natural ones most commonly used to treat migraine.

Migraine Medications

Migraine medications fall into one of two categories – preventatives and abortives.

  • Preventative migraine medications are taken daily to help prevent migraine attacks from occurring.
  • Abortive migraine medications are taken when a migraine presents itself to stop or abort the migraine. The earlier these are taken the better they work at stopping the migraine.

There are no drugs on the market that specifically target and prevent migraines, however, certain blood pressure medications, anti-seizure drugs, antidepressants, and some herbals have been shown to help in migraine prevention.

There are numerous medications that have been used off-label as a preventative for migraine.

The following list of drugs have been recommended by the American Headache Society and American Academy of Neurology (AAN) based on their proven effectiveness in controlled clinical trials:

  • Divalproex sodium/sodium valproate
  • Topiramate (Topamax)
  • Metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL)
  • Propranolol (Inderal)
  • Timolol (Blocadren, Betimol)

Other medications that have been used to prevent migraine include the following:

  • ACE inhibitors: Lisinopril (Prinivil/Zestril)
  • Angiotensin II receptor antagonists (ARBS): Candesartan (Atacand)
  • Beta-blockers: Atenolol (Tenormin), Nadolol
  • Calcium channel blockers: Diltiazem (Cardizem LA), Nimodipine (Nimotop), Verapamil (Isoptin, Calan) 
  • Tricyclic antidepressants: Amitriptyline (Elavil), Nortriptyline (Nortriptyline Hydrochloride, Nortriptyline Hydrochloride Oral Solution, Pamelor), Imipramine, Doxepin (Silenor), Protriptyline (Vivactil)
  • Other antidepressants: Paroxetine (Paxil), Fluoxetine (Prozac), Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Anti-seizure medications: Topiramate (Topamax), Gabapentin (Neurontin), Divalproex sodium (Depakote)
  • Herbals: Feverfew, Butterbur, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), Magnesium supplements

Which Medications Are Used as Abortives?

Common medications used as an abortive for migraine include over-the-counter (OTC) medications


such as NSAIDs, analgesics, and caffeine, including:

  • Aspirin
  • Naprosyn (Naproxen, Anaprox, Anaprox DS)
  • Acetaminophen
  • Ibuprofen (Motrin)

Ergot alkaloids are strong medications that constrict blood vessels, something that OTC drugs do not do. The most commonly prescribed ergots are Cafergot (ergotamine tartrate) and D.H.E. 45 injection or Migranal Nasal Spray (dihydroergotamine mesylate).

Triptans target serotonin receptors, cause constriction of blood vessels, and interrupt the chain of chemical events that lead to a migraine. These include:

  • Almotriptan (Axert)
  • Eletriptan (Relpax)
  • Frovatriptan (Frova)
  • Naratriptan (Amerge)
  • Rizatriptan (Maxalt, Maxalt—MLT)
  • Sumatriptan (Imitrex, Zecuity)
  • Zolmitriptan (Zomig, Zomig-ZMT)

Other types of medications used to abort a migraine include Midrin, which is a combination of isometheptene mucate (a vasoconstrictor), dichloralphenazone (a sedative), and the analgesic acetaminophen.

Antihistamines are also commonly used to ease migraine symptoms. Histamine, a substance that dilates blood vessels and causes inflammation in the body (a similar response caused by migraine), is counteracted with the use of an antihistamine.

Antihistamines are grouped into sedating and non-sedating types. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is a sedating antihistamine while loratadine (Claritin) is non-sedating.

Next page: Using essential oils for migraine relief. 

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