Natural Remedies for Managing Migraine – Spotlight on Migraine Episode 19

[music] Voice-over: Welcome to Shades of Migraine, a podcast series created by the Association of Migraine Disorders. We hope you’ll.

[music] Voice-over: Welcome to Shades of Migraine,
a podcast series created by the Association of Migraine Disorders. We hope you’ll enjoy listening to a wide variety
of voices, including the perspectives of people living with migraine and those that are trying
to help. Each will share their unique shade of migraine. Teva is committed to the goal of transforming
the lives of those suffering from migraine by creating solutions to reinvent the migraine
paradigm by placing people at the center of everything they do. You can visit for tools
and resources for living with migraine. In this episode, Alene Brennan — a nutrition
coach, yoga instructor, and chef — will share natural remedies to help people with migraine
reach their optimal health. Alene explains some best practices for incorporating
essential oils into a migraine management regimen, including their use for children. Alicia Torborg: Today, we are with Alene Brennan,
a nutrition coach with a specialty in migraine and autoimmune disease. Hi, Alene. Alene Brennan: Hello. How are you? Alicia: Good. Thank you for joining us today. Alene: I’m excited to be here. Alicia: Thank you. So tell me a little bit about yourself. Alene: Sure. So as you mentioned, I’m a nutrition coach. I work a lot with individuals that have migraines
and autoimmune disease. I help them to use diet and lifestyle, natural
remedies, to best manage their symptoms and reach their optimal health. And this is something I became so passionate
about because it’s been a personal journey for me as well. Alicia: So how long have you had migraine? Alene: I started getting migraines as early
as elementary school, so I got them really young, and they were quite debilitating. And I got them pretty intensely over a number
of years and then really started looking into what I could do from a proactive perspective
to really manage them and be engaged with my own healthcare. Alicia: So your background and education is
in nutrition, correct? Alene: Yeah, so I am a certified nutrition
coach, yoga instructor, natural food chef, and personal trainer, and essential oil enthusiast,
I’ll say. So I wear a lot of different hats, and that
was really intentional and was on kind of a needed basis the more that I moved throughout
my nutrition coaching practice. Because it’s one thing to help somebody change
the food in their diet, but then if they don’t know how to cook, they need to understand
how to prepare those foods. And if their issues are more stress related,
food is only going to take you so far. You need to address the stress, and that’s
where I started to incorporate some yoga, meditation, and the essential oils just blended
perfectly with that. Alicia: So what do you find most effective
for you? Alene: One of the first steps I took was being
able to identify the food triggers — identify them, eliminate them from my diet — and I
made great progress with that. But I still needed another resource, and that’s
when I really started to work with essential oils. I use them as an opportunity to not only manage
the symptoms of them, but to help reduce the frequency and the intensity of the migraines. Alicia: What kind of oils do you use? What scents? Alene: Yeah, so I do have my favorites. I absolutely love peppermint and lavender. I use them each individually, but then the
combination of the two are really nice to use. Lavender is one that is phenomenal to diffuse
on a daily basis. That’s one that I’ll diffuse every night before
I go to bed. But if you are in the midst of a migraine,
you can just take the bottle — even if you don’t have a diffuser, take the bottle, and
just take a couple smells of it, some deep breaths of it. And do that about every 15 minutes, because
it takes about 15 to 20 minutes for that essential oil to circulate throughout every cell in
your body. So if you don’t get that desired result within
those 15 minutes, just do another application of it. But that’s one that can help improve quality
sleep on a day-to-day basis, but in the midst of a migraine, it can really help to alleviate
some of that pain that you’re experiencing. In terms of, perhaps, maybe some tension,
muscular tension, that somebody may be experiencing from migraines, I’ll do more of a peppermint
oil and use that on the neck, on the back of the head, and that has really been helpful
for relieving some specific muscular tension. What I like about peppermint is that it also
helps to regulate the body temperature, so if you feel like you’re getting a little bit
too warm as you have a migraine, it can help bring that body temperature down as well. And ginger is another nice one, especially
if you have any nausea with your migraines, which I would often get. Alicia: I’ve never heard of the ginger. So do you use that topically or in a vaporizer? Alene: Yeah, so if somebody’s not familiar
with essential oils, you can use them in three ways. You can use them aromatically, so diffusing
them throughout the air, just as you had mentioned, with a diffuser. You can use them topically, putting them on
the skin. Or if they are a food grade essential oil,
you can take them internally. So for the peppermint, I might use that individually
or, like I said, combine it with the lavender and perhaps place some on the temples or even
on the neck — sometimes, the occipital ridge. That’s often a common place where I get some
tension during migraines. Or I could take the ginger and place it right
on my tummy. So you can place them in areas where you feel
the most discomfort and you’d like to address and get the most relief from. Alicia: That’s very interesting. So I haven’t heard of ingesting them. Alene: You can place them in water or a beverage,
or you can also cook with them. So technically, you can drink or eat them,
but like I said, you just want to make sure that you get a pure essential oil. There are, unfortunately, a lot of ones out
there that may have some synthetic fillers in there, so if you’re going to be purchasing
them for internal use, do your research. If you need to, connect with somebody that
can help guide you through that process. But, yeah, you can do them internally. And like I said, sometimes that’s placing
a drop of, perhaps, a lemon or a citrus oil in your water. Or another internal use would be placing a
drop of peppermint — I’ll sometimes do it on the tip of my thumb and then put my thumb
on the roof of my mouth if I have a headache, and that is probably one of the best ways
that I have experienced relief from using peppermint for headaches. Alicia: That’s great to know. So is it difficult to get them, an edible
form of it? I don’t know that I’ve seen them. Alene: No, you just want to make sure that
you’re using a good-quality brand. So the ones that I use are pure therapeutic
grade, and I have done my research to make sure that the sourcing of them is good as
well as the distillation process, so I know that what I’m getting is exactly what it says
in the bottle. I think a perfect kind of analogy is sometimes
we get the maple syrup from Vermont, and you know it’s so rich and delicious. It might cost you a few extra dollars, but
you know it’s really good. And then we may get one like a Mrs. Butterworth
that you put over — it’s still a syrup, but you look in the ingredients, and there’s no
maple syrup in it. So just doing your research and making sure
that you have a good quality one there. The nice thing about essential oils is that
they are pure oils and pure scents. So what we find to be true is that a lot of
times, it’s the synthetic fragrances that are triggering migraines. So some people will be triggered by perfumes
or cigarette smoke, something that is a little bit more “toxic.” But the aroma of pure essential oils are more
natural so that the body doesn’t get triggered by the scent of them as much. Now, if somebody is really sensitive to any
type of smell or aroma, my recommendation would just be to start off small. It’s always best to start off small or light,
however you want to put it, and then grow from there. So if you’re diffusing the essential oil throughout
a room, start with one drop, and see how you respond from that. And if, for whatever reason, it triggers you,
you stop it and maybe move on to something else. If you’re applying them topically, you can
put them on the soles of your feet so the aroma isn’t as strong. Again, just use one or two drops. The soles of your feet are the least sensitive
part of your skin but the most porous, so they’re able to absorb the oils, and it circulates
throughout your whole body. So you’re still getting the benefit of it,
but you may not have that sensitivity of the smell because it’s on the soles of the feet
there. Alicia: Fascinating. Very interesting. It makes sense. So, Alene, I know you had mentioned that you
started having migraine when you were a child. I did as well. What advice can you give parents who want
to try to help their children through this? Alene: Yeah, so certainly every parent wants
to see their child happy and playing, so when they’re not feeling that way, they want to
do everything that they can to support them in getting better. I know, personally, I started off on a lot
of medications, and they were medications that I was told I was going to be on for an
indefinite period of time, and that just didn’t sit well with me or my family. So that’s where we really started to explore
different options that we could be proactive with, and that’s where the essential oils
came in. Essential oils are natural. They are plant based, so you certainly can
use them on children. You just want to make sure that you are diluting
them. So, certainly, if you’re diffusing them through
the air, they’re safe to diffuse in a child’s room. But if you’re using them topically, if you’re
putting them on their body, you just want to dilute them, because they’re smaller human
beings, so smaller bodies need just a little bit less oil. And it could be something as small as one
drop of lavender oil to one teaspoon or one tablespoon of a carrier oil such as fractionated
coconut oil, which is pretty much coconut oil that is always in a liquid state. And just start off with that, and you can
always increase from there. Alicia: And would you recommend reaching out
to a pediatrician ahead of time? Alene: So my general stance on connecting
with my medical team is always to keep them informed of what I’m doing, but I always try
to keep in mind that I’m not asking for their validation of whether or not it’s going to
work. My question is, “Are there any contraindications
or any concerns that they would have with using something like essential oils on me?”
or if a parent’s talking about their child, because the medical team cannot — they don’t
have the science that they need to be able to validate the results of them. So sometimes, you get a little discouraged
from that, when really, they’re a great resource. So just asking them, looping them in, saying,
“Hey, I’m going to try some lavender or peppermint essential oil. I’ve heard a lot about it.” Any major concerns that they have with it? If they do, great, talk it out. Most likely, they’ll say, “No, it’s a natural
remedy. Give it a try.” If you get the green light, then go for it,
and hopefully, you’ve discovered a new tool that can help you or your child manage the
migraines. Alicia: So what are your thoughts about medications
versus natural remedies? Alene: So I truly believe that there’s a place
in this world for medicine. We’re so grateful to have the advancements
of technology and science. Personally, for me, I believe that it shouldn’t
be my first line of defense. So what I like to do is see what I can do
proactively through diet and lifestyle. And what I have found over the years is that
9 times out of 10, it’s going to improve my health so that if and when I do need to take
medicine, I’m on fewer medications at a lower dose for a shorter period of time. So to me, that’s the opportunity of blending
both worlds of taking truly an integrative approach. Alicia: That’s great advice, and I imagine
there are many people that have the same beliefs. Alene: Yeah, there are a lot of people who
you’ll see on both extremes of saying that we absolutely have to take medicine, and then
some that are saying absolutely no medicine, and then there’s that middle ground. And I really think that it’s important for
each person to identify what works best for them. Without a lot of those external influences,
what feels best for you? Because what feels best for you is honoring
your body, and what you believe in, I think, is going to be more effective. So if you’re in a position and you believe
that the combination of those two is going to best support you, then you’re most likely
going to get the best results out of that. Alicia: And I think to get those best results,
you have to keep trying things. You have to be open — Alene: Absolutely. Alicia: — to trying new therapies that you
haven’t tried before. Alene: Yeah. Alicia: Yoga — I mean, a lot of people don’t
do yoga, but opening yourself up to meditation or yoga and lifestyle changes can certainly
help. Alene: Yeah, I remember when somebody first
recommended yoga to me for migraines, I thought, “They have no idea what a migraine is if they
think a yoga pose is going to help eliminate these debilitating migraines. I end up in the emergency room with them. I’m on a rainbow of medications from them.” But then I rolled out my mat, I started showing
up at some yoga classes, and I realized that the joke was on me, because yoga helped me
to manage stress. It helped to alleviate tension in my body. And it allowed me to get a better quality
of sleep. It improved digestion. There were so many areas that it hit that
improved my quality of health that it just seems like a no-brainer to continue with that
on a regular basis. Alicia: Right. Are there specific yoga exercises or a practice
that you would do in the evening to help relax you? Alene: Yeah, two of my very favorite poses
are “child’s pose” and then “legs up the wall.” So legs up the wall is great, where you’re
literally just laying on your back and have your legs up the wall. You’re in a 90-degree angle. It helps to recirculate all the blood flow
that’s going down towards your feet all day. And it’s very restorative, because we know
that getting consistent sleep is something that’s really important for a migraine sufferer. Throwing off those sleep patterns is a big
trigger for many people, so if you can create a nighttime routine — perhaps of a few yoga
poses and incorporating some essential oils in there, maybe even enjoy a cup of nice tea
before you go to bed — it really supports you in having a consistent routine in there
for consistent bedtime that can help with the prevention of headaches. So that’s one, and then child’s pose is nice
because it helps to stretch out the back, and it’s not one where you’re sending any
extra blood flow to your head. Downward-facing dog will also stretch out
your back, but if you’re in the midst of a migraine, it will most likely be too much
blood flow to the head that it could intensify it. So just really nice, gentle restorative poses. Alicia: If you were to give your best advice
to someone who’s suffering from pain or migraine pain, what would it be? Alene: To have great compassion for yourself
and your body, and to know that if given the chance, the body wants to and will heal itself. It’s not to suggest that it’s going to do
the incurable, but it’s important to recognize that nature gives us the resources that we
need in order to best support our body. So fueling our body with the best foods, embracing
essential oils to best manage your health, and getting good quality sleep — all those
components really make a difference, and I think just understanding that it’s no one
thing. It’s really looking at your life as a whole
and how you can just take each and every day to move one step forward to your best health. Alicia: Thank you very much, Alene. This has been great information. Tell me again your website? Alene: Yeah, my website is my full name, Alene
Brennan,, and I have a lot of free resources on there — videos, recipes,
blogs — a lot of resources that individuals can use to really help reach their optimal
health. And I’m also active on social media, especially
Instagram. Alicia: Great. Voice-over: Teva is committed to the goal
of transforming the lives of those suffering from migraine by creating solutions to reinvent
the migraine paradigm by placing people at the center of everything they do. You can visit for tools
and resources for living with migraine. [music] Voice-over: And thank you for tuning in to
Shades of Migraine. For more information about migraine disease,
please visit

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