Migraines affect an estimated 21% of women and 10% of men.¹ They can cause severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and other unpleasant symptoms that can impact your ability to work and go about your daily life.
Many treatment options can help you cope with migraines, including prescription and over-the-counter pain-relievers. However, some people prefer to use alternative therapies.
One such remedy is a migraine stick, but can it really help?
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A migraine stick is a product that contains a blend of essential oils and a base oil (usually coconut) in a glass or plastic tube.
The product includes a rollerball applicator, which allows you to easily rub a small amount of oil on your skin (usually your forehead or temples).
A migraine stick is usually small, about the size of a lip balm. It can easily fit into your purse or bag, enabling you to take it with you on the go.
Migraine sticks contain essential oils which produce strong smells. It is believed that these oils have various health effects.
To apply the oil, gently massage your skin with the migraine stick. This may also provide some pain relief or a soothing effect.
Some people already swear by essential oils for treating migraines, but they can be messy to carry around and apply when you’re away from home. Migraine sticks make it easy to apply essential oils to your skin without the mess.
Always follow the packet instructions or your pharmacist’s advice when using a migraine stick.
To use a migraine stick, simply open the lid and rub a bit of oil onto your skin. You can rub it on your temples or wrists, or you might decide to apply a bit of oil under your nose.
You can easily use migraine sticks at home, and they’re convenient enough to take with you when you’re out and about.
Review the ingredients before using a migraine stick. Pay close attention to whether your skin reacts. Some essential oils can cause allergic reactions or breakouts, so doing a small spot test before using the oils on a large area of the body could reduce your risk.
According to Insider, Migrastil is a highly popular brand of migraine stick. Migrastil contains peppermint, spearmint, and lavender essential oils with a coconut oil base.
One impressed Migrastil customer said, “I have no earthly idea why this works, but it brought me back from the dead after an 11-day headache.” However, no concrete research has indicated Migrastil works effectively.
You could also try My Relief Migraine, which also combines peppermint, spearmint, and lavender essential oil. My Relief Migraine also includes chamomile essential oils to help promote calmness.
Another option is Peace Love Rally’s migraine stick. This product contains magnesium, which may help prevent migraines or reduce their severity. Most research on magnesium and migraines involves oral migraine pills, but applying magnesium topically could produce positive effects.
You can also purchase individual essential oils in rollerball bottles. This is a good option if you don’t want to use a blend of essential oils. You can also make your own blend by combining a base oil with your choice of essential oils.
Using a migraine stick is generally safe. However, there is a risk of adverse skin reactions or irritation if the oils accidentally enter your eyes or mouth.
Otherwise, migraine sticks are unlikely to cause side effects unless you happen to be sensitive to the aromas. In some people, the strong smell of peppermint may actually trigger a migraine, but migraine triggers can vary greatly from person to person.
Migraine sticks may be effective, but it’s hard to say for sure.
Some evidence² suggests peppermint may help reduce the pain associated with migraines and that lavender can help ease anxiety. Addressing those two problems at once could help reduce migraine symptoms.
Migraine sticks could also help reduce scent-related triggers. If strong perfumes or smoke tend to trigger your migraines, dabbing migraine stick oil under your nose may block them out and prevent a migraine.
You might find migraine sticks effective because of the placebo effect. You may believe in the treatment you have used, so you start to feel better — even if the treatment had no real effect.
Despite the possibility of the placebo effect, migraine sticks are a relatively inexpensive and low-risk migraine treatment.
Although migraine sticks may help ease your migraine symptoms, don’t opt to use migraine sticks instead of prescription medications or over-the-counter pain relievers. A migraine stick cannot help you avoid all migraine triggers, like foods or bright lights.
With your doctor’s advice, you could use a migraine stick together with treatments your doctor recommends. While they may provide some pain and anxiety relief, a migraine stick is unlikely to be a miracle cure.
Speak to your doctor about migraines. They will run tests and review your symptoms to provide an accurate diagnosis and rule out other health conditions.
Migraines can be very disruptive to everyday life, especially if they occur several times each month.
You might be tempted to try any treatment you can get your hands on to help ease your migraines, including migraine sticks. However, most evidence-based migraine treatment options are those recommended by your doctor.
A migraine stick could help block out migraine-triggering aromas or soothe stress or anxiety. It could also produce the placebo effect, helping you feel better.
From the journal: The prevalence of migraine and severe headache | American Headache Society
Can aromatherapy help with migraine? | National Headache Foundation
Aromatherapy: Do essential oils really work? | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Magnesium | American Migraine Foundation