Researchers at the University of Gothenburg randomly assigned a group of headache sufferers to one of three regimens for three months: aerobic exercise on a stationary bike (40 minutes three times per week); a standard form of relaxation therapy; or a daily dose of a drug commonly used to prevent headaches (topiramate). Ninety-one women in total participated in the trial. All were from a headache clinic in Sweden and were between the ages of 18 and 65 years old. Each had been diagnosed by a neurologist as suffering from migraine, with or without aura.
The researchers found that all three treatments proved effective and reduced the frequency of migraine attacks by as much as three quarters. The researchers were surprised that the beneficial results were similar in all treatment groups.
However, relaxation and exercise therapy had one advantage over the drug therapy: none of the women in the relaxation group or exercise group reported side effects. Thirty-three percent of the women in the topiramate group did report negative side effects and, as a result, three withdrew from the study altogether. Reported side effects of the drug included numbness or tingling, fatigue, depressed mood, vertigo, and constipation.
The researchers concluded that exercise should not be considered inferior to topiramate as a treatment for migraines. In fact, it should be considered of great value to those who don’t benefit from or don’t want to take daily medication.
Now, here are four additional non-pharmaceutical ways to treat migraines:
–Feverfew could help to relieve some of the throbbing pain associated with headaches by reducing the size of the inflamed blood vessels in your brain.
–Acupuncture has been shown to help relieve headache pain.
–Simple stretching and deep breathing could benefit those with headaches by relieving muscle tension and tightness.
–Try an icepack applied to the neck area to reduce inflammation and to numb pain symptoms.