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Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Complementary And Alternative Therapies

The right drug treatment can make a tremendous difference for the headache sufferer. However, drugs alone are sometimes not enough. Other people prefer to find nondrug treatments for their headaches.

Complementary therapies can help many people with headaches, including those who have not benefited from drugs, as well as those who would rather avoid prescription drugs. Here are just a few complementary therapies that may be of benefit for managing headaches. Keep in mind that there are limited data on the effectiveness and safety of these treatments.

  • Biofeedback, relaxation and stress-management training. These techniques may be helpful, especially for those who suffer from stress-related headaches. These psychological techniques relieve tension and reduce pain. It is often helpful to learn these techniques from an instructor who has special training.
  • Acupuncture. Acupuncture may help a variety of different pain conditions, including chronic or recurring headaches.
  • Massage therapy and chiropractic care. These approaches may help those whose headaches are caused by muscular tension or neck arthritis.
  • Feverfew. Several studies suggest that feverfew may prevent migraine headaches. Treatment with feverfew has been associated with fewer headaches, milder headaches and less nausea and vomiting.
Last updated June 5, 2008




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