The term migraine refers to a class of headaches sharing certain characteristic symptoms. Migraine pain may be preceded or accompanied by visual changes or other symptoms, such as severe sensitivity to light or sound, heart palpitations, faintness, nausea, or vomiting. Symptoms that precede the onset of a migraine attack are known as prodromal symptoms.
In migraines, headache pain usually occurs in the forehead or temples, often on one side only and typically accompanied by nausea and a preference for a darkened room. Headache attacks last for several hours up to a day or more. They are usually separated by completely pain-free intervals. In some cases, headache pain is accompanied by a visual (or occasionally nonvisual) disturbance known as an aura. Migraines are classified as migraine with aura and migraine without aura.
Migraines can be triggered by a variety of causes, including fatigue, stress, hormonal changes, and foods, such as alcohol, chocolate, peanuts, and avocados. However, in many people, migraines occur with no obvious triggering factor.
Four double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have evaluated the use of classical homeopathic approaches to treat migraines and other forms of headache. One found significant evidence of benefit, while the others did not.
In the positive study, 60 people who suffered from migraines were given either a classical homeopathic remedy or placebo.1 At the start of the study, researchers evaluated each person and, based on classical homeopathy, prescribed one or two of the following remedies: Belladonna, Ignatia, Lachesis, Silicea, Gelsemium, Cyclamen, Natrum muriaticum, or Sulphur, each in 30c potency. Once an appropriate remedy was determined for each participant, researchers randomly divided participants into treatment and control groups.
At the conclusion of the 4-month study period, the treatment group showed statistically significant reduction in the intensity, duration, and frequency of migraine attacks as compared to the placebo group.
Another 4-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of about the same size also evaluated the effects of individualized homeopathic treatment on migraines, but with less positive results.2 On most measurements of headache severity, no statistically significant differences were seen between the treated group and the placebo group.
Lack of benefit was seen in two other trials as well, each involving individualized homeopathic treatment, and enrolling a total of more than 150 people.3 (The larger of these two trials, however, included people with various forms of headache, not just migraines.)
In classical homeopathy, there are many possible homeopathic treatments for migraine headaches, to be chosen based on various specific details of the individual seeking treatment.
If your headache is throbbing and the pain increases from the slightest disturbance of light, motion, or noise, and your condition worsens in the afternoon, you may fit the symptom picture for the remedy Belladonna. Other features include a flushed, hot face and cold hands and feet.
If your headache is situated on the left side of your head and the pain is congested and pulsing, you may be a candidate for the homeopathic remedy Lachesis. Other characteristics of the symptom picture include the following:
If your migraine occurs after mental exertion or near your menstrual period and you are especially nervous and chilly, then the remedy Silicea may be indicated. Headaches associated with this remedy are usually on the right side, starting at the back of the skull and extending to the forehead.
For more information on herbs, supplements, and other alternative treatments that may be useful for this condition, see the migraine article.
For a thorough explanation of homeopathy, including dilution of therapies, see the Homeopathy Overview.
1. Brigo B, Serpelloni G. Homeopathic treatment of migraines: a randomized double-blind controlled study of 60 cases. The Berlin Journal on Research in Homeopathy. 1991;1:98–106.
2. Straumsheim P, Borchgrevink C, Mowinckel P, et al. Homeopathic treatment of migraine: a double blind, placebo controlled trial of 68 patients. Br Homeopath J. 2000;89:4–7.
3. Whitmarsh TE, Coleston-Shields DM, Steiner TJ. Double-blind randomized placebo-controlled study of homeopathic prophylaxis of migraine. Cephalgia. 1997;17:600–604.
Last reviewed September 2014 by EBSCO CAM Review Board