Alternative medicine

By Mayo Clinic Staff

For many people, complementary or alternative therapies offer relief from headache pain. However, not all complementary or alternative therapies have been studied as headache treatments, and others need further research.

  • Acupuncture. This ancient technique uses fine needles to promote the release of natural painkillers and other chemicals in the central nervous system. There is some evidence that it can help control headaches and other conditions that cause chronic pain.
  • Biofeedback. Biofeedback teaches you to control certain body responses that help reduce pain. During a session, you're connected to devices that monitor and give you feedback on body functions, such as muscle tension, heart rate and blood pressure. You then learn how to reduce muscle tension and slow your heart rate and breathing to help you relax, which may help you cope with pain.
  • Herbs, vitamins and minerals. Some dietary supplements — including magnesium, feverfew and butterbur — seem to help prevent or treat some types of headaches, but there's little scientific support for these claims. If you're considering using supplements, check with your doctor. Some supplements may interfere with other drugs you take or have other harmful effects.

Discuss the risks and benefits of complementary therapy with your doctor.

Dec. 02, 2014

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