How to Relieve Those Migraine Headaches - Ayurveda | Everyday Ayurveda

How to Relieve Those Migraine Headaches

By on December 19, 2015

Occasional migraine headaches are pressure headaches which are much different than that occasional tension headache. They come as a results of vasodilation of the cerebral arteries, which increases intracranial and arterial pressure, resulting in a pressure headache.

An occasional tension headache typically results when the muscles in the neck and shoulders tighten, usually due to stress clamping down on the skull, neck and shoulders, causing muscular tension. Massage can work wonders for tension headaches, but unfortunately tends to not do much for the occasional migraine.

Studies show that people from all walks of life can suffer from occasional migraines, although, curiously, they are most prevalent in women, people between the ages of 35 and 45 years old, and in populations with lower incomes (under $10,000 per year). (1) An estimated 18% of women and 6% of men have been found to experience sporadic migraine headaches. (2) Studies have shown that intermittent migraines can be spurred by many factors, including but not limited to stress, alcohol, weather changes, and menstruation. (3-6)

According to Ayurveda, a common cause for occasional migraine headaches is stress, as well as the body’s inability to effectively detox and remove waste from the body. According to Ayurveda, vessels in the head can dilate and cause pressure and pain inside the skull in an attempt to release toxins through the dilation process. In a similar way, the body’s skin dilates in order to sweat and therefore remove waste. The vessels in the head can do the same, but only if some other detox channel in the body has been compromised in some way. The key to solving this problem, in addition to removing the stress, is to discover which detox or waste remove pathway has been compromised.

Ayurvedic Therapy for the Occasional Headache

To distinguish between whether you have an occasional migraine or a tension headache, try the following:

  1. Lie down and apply heat in the form of 2 hot water bottles or a heating bad wrapped around both feet, with most of the heat hitting the soles.
  2. Apply a cool ice cloth to the forehead and rest for 20 minutes.

The cool cloth on the forehead will vasoconstrict the swollen vessels in the head, while the heat on the feet will vasodilate the many blood vessels in the feet. The blood and toxins are then shunted away from the head in the direction of the new exit ramp: the vasodilated feet. If this resolves the issue, then it is a pressure-related concern.

Next is to determine which detox system may be involved. Each body type has it strengths and weaknesses regarding its detox pathways. Knowing your body type can help you know where to look to find the problem.


The vata body type is hypermetabolic in nature, both physiologically and mentally. Vata types think fast and act fast, tend to have dry skin and, when under stress, they are prone to occasional constipation. If the elimination concerns linger, toxins from the gut can re-absorb back to the liver and enter into the bloodstream. In conjunction with stress, blood vessels can first become constricted, and then can be followed with a rebound dilation. The dilation can cause pressure, pain and toxicity to flood into the dilated vessels and neck in an attempt to be released out of the body.

Suggestion: Consider Elim 1 or Triphala to support healthy intestinal elimination.


Occasional migraine headaches that are common in pitta body types are typically due to liver congestion, and excess stress that can irritate and inflame the intestinal tract. In the same way toxins accumulate from the gut back to the liver in the vata body type, in the pitta type, the congestion and toxicity due to liver and sometimes gallbladder congestion can pass impurities into the bloodstream. The liver congestion predisposes the cranial vessels to inflame and dilate, which can cause an occasional migraine.

Suggestion: Consider Liver Repair or Beet Cleanse to improve bile flow from the gallbladder and bile production from the liver.


Occasional migraine headaches that are seen in kapha body types are typically a result of poor lymphatic circulation. The lymphatic system is the largest detox system of the body, and kapha types who have a slower metabolism commonly experience lymphatic circulation concerns. Toxins can build up in the bloodstream due to poor lymphatic circulation, causing pressure, vasodilation and pain.

Suggestion: Consider Manjistha to support healthy lymphatic flow and de-congestion.

Nasya for Occasional Headaches (for all types)

  1. Place 2-3 drops of sesame oil, (or see LifeSpa’s Nasya Oil) into your left hand.
  2. With your right hand, rub your pinky in the oil. Then place your little finger into the right nostril as far up as is comfortable.
  3. Repeat the procedure in the left nostril.
  4. Repeat until all the oil is gone.
  5. Then hold the nostril closed and breathe in. Do the same thing on the other side.

Important Notes:

  • Best done on an empty stomach.
  • Best not to do before bed to prevent dripping into the larynx.
  • It’s normal to taste the oil in the back of the mouth or to have some oil drip out of your nose for a minute or two after wards.
  • Nasya is not indicated for children under 13. Children do not have a fully developed glottis and a small amount of oil can drip into the larynx.
Do you get occasional migraine headaches? What are your favorite Ayurvedic practices for balancing them?
NOTE: For more information of how to treat the detox pathway related to your type, please see my archived articles and videos on detox and lymph. If you are having frequent or more than just occasional headaches, please see a medical professional.


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About Dr John Douillard

Dr. John Douillard, DC, CAP, is a globally recognized leader in the fields of natural health, Ayurveda, and sports medicine. He is the creator of, the leading Ayurvedic health and wellness resource on the web. is evolving the way Ayurveda is understood around the world, with over 700 articles and videos proving ancient wisdom with modern science. Dr. John is the former Director of Player Development for the New Jersey Nets NBA team, author of 6 books, a repeat guest on the Dr. Oz show, and featured in Woman’s World Magazine, Huffington Post, Yoga Journal and dozens of other publications. He directs LifeSpa, the 2013 Holistic Wellness Center of the year, in Boulder, CO. For more information visit

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