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Dr. Murali Manohar Chirumamilla
Raksha Ayurvedalaya: The Family Wellness Center

Migraine and Ayurvedic Treatment

A migraine is a terrible headache that tends to recur and is often accompanied by a feeling of nausea. The pain is usually felt on one side of the head. One may experience flashing lights, zigzag lines, bright spots, partial loss of vision, or numbness or tingling in the hand, tongue, or side of the face. Moving around makes the headache worse. While no medical tests confirm migraine, the diagnosis is based mainly on the above-mentioned symptoms.

Many scientists think migraine is a vascular disorder caused by a tightening (constriction) and sudden opening (dilation) of the blood vessels in the head, neck, or scalp. Others believe that an abnormal release of neuro-chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin or noradrenaline may cause the throbbing pain of migraine. In Ayurveda, two conditions, known as Ardhaavabheda (meaning literally the unilateral pain) and Anantavaata resemble the classical migraine.


Activities: In most of the individuals the following activities may possibly trigger migraine.

  • Stress and time pressure, major hassles, major losses, anger, frustration, depression and conflict.
  • Excessive relaxation and positive feelings such as excitement.
  • Smells and fumes, tobacco smoke, light glare or dazzle, weather changes and high altitude.
  • Onset of puberty in girls, monthly period, birth control pills, pregnancy, delivery, oestrogen therapy and menopause.
  • Motion and travel.
  • Too much, too little or interrupted sleep.
  • Hunger or fasting.
  • Excessive activity (especially if you are not in good health).

Food: The food items that are known to trigger migraine are:

  • Beer, wine and ‘hot’ liquor.
  • Caffeine in coffee, tea, and cola drinks and some over-the-counter medicines.
  • Dairy products such as ice-cream, milk, curd, cheese, butter and milk cream.
  • Fermented foods, such as dosa and pickled foods.
  • Grapes, lemons, bananas, figs, and raisins.
  • Processed meats.
  • Chinese food containing monosodium glutamate (MSG).
  • Saccharin in diet foods or diet drinks.
  • Onions and beans.
  • Yeast-containing products, such as fresh breads and doughnuts.
  • Nuts and peanuts.

Drugs: Medicines that might trigger migraine are:

  • Blood vessel dilating drugs such as nitroglycerine.
  • drugs for high blood pressure such as reserpine, nifedipine; diuretics.
  • anti-asthma medications like aminophylline.
  • oestrogens including birth control pills.
  • painkillers in general—either overuse or withdrawal from them.

Self-Help Guidelines

  • Spread your workload evenly during the day to avoid highs and lows of stress at work or at home.
  • Do not sleep excessively, especially during Sunday mornings and holidays.
  • Do not get too tired.
  • Eat at regular times, and do not skip meals.
  • Do not eat or drink anything, you think brings on a headache.
  • Limit the amount of tea, coffee and painkillers you use.
  • Watch your posture. Try to keep your neck straight.
  • Keep your muscles relaxed when you are not physically active. Try not to frown or tighten your jaw.
  • Restrict your physical activities in hot weather.
  • Avoid bright or flickering lights, loud noises or strong smells if they trigger headaches for you.
  • Remember the classic advice; “ati sarvatra varjayeth” or moderation in all things.

Treatment plan

  • There are three factors which, when used in a synergy, prevent migraine. The first is to stop rebounding. The second is to reduce your exposure to avoidable migraine triggers. The third is to take preventive medication.
  • Rebounding occurs when you rely on painkillers and other quick fixes for temporary relief. Each time this type of medication wears off, the underlying problem—migraine—is magnified. Rebounding also blocks your ability to respond to the next two steps in preventing migraine: reducing your exposure to avoidable trigger factors and, if necessary, taking preventive medication.
  • Reducing exposure to trigger factors is difficult because these factors from many sources are all mixed together at any given moment. This is the reason why people sometimes notice headaches after eating or drinking certain things, such as chocolate or wine, but sometimes don’t get headaches despite exposure to these items. Therefore, it requires observation and patience on the part of the patient to make sure that any addition in the diet does not trigger a headache.
  • Preventive treatment pays dividends in the end but can seem to be difficult in the beginning, before it starts working. As a preventive treatment, you may be advised to take specific Ayurvedic medicines such as soota sekhara rasa, Mahaa-vaata vidhwansana rasa, Dasa-moolaarishta, Shad bindu taila, Chandanaadi vati, etc. Once adequate headache control is maintained for at least several months, preventive treatment can be liberalised.
  • This may mean experimentally adding dietary items, one at a time, gradually reducing the dosage of preventive medication, or eventually, both. In this way, the level of preventive treatment required to maintain long-term headache control can be determined.

However, in the long run, it’s the elimination of dietary triggers which is a crucial step in preventing migraine.

Ayurvedic remedies

  • Hold an ice-pack to your forehead or temples to reduce your pain.
  • Lie down in a quiet, dark room.
  • You could try keeping a migraine diary. Writing down information about your headaches and what you were doing when they happened can help you find out what triggers your headaches. Then you can avoid those triggers.
  • Take the juice of Tinospora cordifolia (giloy), in doses of 10 ml with honey.
  • Apply a paste made of black pepper and rice with the juice of bhringaraaja to the forehead. Alternately, you can apply the paste of sandalwood also.
  • Drop some ghee, medicated with saffron flowers (kesar) into each nostril and inhale deeply.
  • Take three grams of coriander seeds, five grams of lavender flowers (ustukhudusa), five seeds of black pepper, and five badam. Grind with water, sieve, and take before sunrise. Soak badam overnight in water and remove the skin before preparing the paste.
  • Godanti mishran in the dose of 1-2 tablets twice daily with lukewarm water controls migraine. Pathyadi kwatham, an oral liquid in the dose of 15 ml twice daily with equal water is a good remedy. Shirashoolaadi vajra ras is very useful in general migraine headaches.


As we all are genetically different with different constitutions and patterns, we respond to treatments in many different ways. Hence Standard Ayurvedic Treatments are always individually formulated. This article is intended only for information. It is not a substitute to the standard medical diagnosis, personalized Ayurvedic treatment or qualified Ayurvedic physician. For specific treatment, always consult with a qualified Ayurvedic physician.


Dr. Murali Manohar Chirumamilla, M.D. (Ayurveda)
Plot No. 13, H.No: 16-2-67/13,
Ramamurthy Nagar (CBCID Colony),
Landmark: Kukatpally Area, Metro Train Pillar No. MYP 29.
PIN - 500 085. Telangana State


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