Individuals who experience migraine headaches often reach for pharmaceutical pain relievers to alleviate the extreme discomfort. However, researchers at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden have discovered that non-medicinal preventive efforts may be the best treatment when it comes to migraines.
In a three-month study, scientists divided a group of more than 90 women who regularly experience migraines into three subsets: one who exercised for 40 minutes three times weekly, one who practiced relaxation techniques and a third who took the drug topiramate.
The researchers found that all three groups experienced significantly reduced migraines, suggesting that exercise and relaxation may be as effective at alleviating the headaches as pharmaceuticals, but without potential side effects.
“Our conclusion is that exercise can act as an alternative to relaxations and topiramate when it comes to preventing migraines, and is particularly appropriate for patients who are unwilling or unable to take preventative medicines,” said lead author Emma Varkey.
The National Institutes of Health reports that side effects of topiramate include a burning sensation in the extremities, delayed reaction time, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, muscle pain, nosebleeds and hair loss, among many others.