Don't Use Salt for Migraines. Do This Instead.

Salt for migraines?

You've probably seen blog articles or Facebook posts touting salt as a miracle migraine cure. You're supposed to put some salt in a glass of water with some lemon juice and drink it. I'm very skeptical about this purported "cure." To be fair, I haven't tried it. So, I won't say that it absolutely doesn't work.

As far as I can tell, people who propose using salt to stop migraines claim that sodium deficiency leads to migraines. I don't know of any research that suggests this is true. I suppose it could possibly be a culprit in some cases.

Any type of imbalance in your body, including a sodium imbalance, could affect your brain cells and begin the migraine process. But if you look at the typical American diet, it seems very unlikely to me that many of us are suffering from a sodium deficiency. Probably just the opposite -- most of us are getting too much sodium. And too much sodium can raise your blood pressure to unhealthy levels.

I think a lot of people have shared this "salt cure" in a helpful spirit. Migraine pain can be devastating leading to a sense of desperation and willingness to try anything new. But in my research I've also seen a lot of web pages with outlandish claims.

One webpage, for example, tells us:

"This salt can help in reducing migraine’s acting, thus reducing headaches, strengthening the immunity, increasing levels of energy, balancing levels of serotonin in the bloodstream, restoring body’s electrolyte and alkaline balance and so much more."

Now, all that said, I won't deny that it is at least possible that an electrolyte deficiency or imbalance could cause or worsen a migraine. If you don't have blood pressure issues and want to try it, it probably won't hurt. It's probably best to use a high quality salt.

What I Do Instead

Your main focus should be on trying to prevent migraines with natural supplements, prescription medicines, lifestyle changes, etc. Trying to stop a migraine that has already started can be very difficult. There is a home remedy that works, at least sometimes. 

When you have a migraine put an ice pack on your neck. Also put your hands and/or feet in very warm water. Don't hurt yourself, but make the water as warm as you can comfortably stand. This probably won't abort a full-blown migraine, but it might provide some level of relief.

There is a sound explanation for why this works. When you have a migraine headache, the blood vessels in your head and neck dilate. This is one of the main causes of the excruciating pain. The ice pack on the neck can cause the blood vessels to constrict back down to normal and the warm water has the opposite effect on your hands and feet drawing blood to them and away from your neck. 

Let us know what you think! Scroll down to leave a comment.

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  • Tessa

    Hi, my migraine medication sumatriptan works by constricting the inflated blood vessels in my head. Strong espresso coffee has the same effect for a while (not as long as the medication).

    Salt also constricts blood vessels. While too much salt is a long term bad dietary choice, causing high blood pressure; short term it can provide relief of a migraine by constricting the inflated blood vessels.

    I found out by accident. I snack during a migraine as I can’t eat meals, and discovered plain or sweet biscuits didn’t help, but after having very salty soy crackers, my migraine eased up and if I ate sufficient salt it would go away for a while. Enough to get a bit of sleep. Someone with high blood pressure may not get the same results. I’ve got low blood pressure 96 over 59. I’m in agreement with this article that it’s nothing to do with any nutritional content of salt. Plain old salt works.
    Look up salt and constrict and there’s a bit of information.
    The biggest cure is rest and sleep, though.

  • .

    salt CAUSES headaches for me. i get both migraines & headaches. johns hopkins research has proven that salt causes headaches. we get way too much sodium in food today. caffeine helps my migraines but doesn’t help my headaches (it can actually cause a headache). migraines are when cerebral blood vessels are dilated. caffeine constricts blood vessels. “ice cream brain freeze” also constricts blood vessels (for a few seconds) & when i’m desperate for some relief i sometimes resort to eating something frozen quickly to cause that brain freeze.

  • Maite

    Hi there ,
    I do suffer from migraines and I do have to say that salt works wonders most of the time
    I didn’t learn this on fb .I just realised one day that I always had a headache after eating bananas more than two days in a row and that I always got a migraine after homeopathy class .. I always had a potato salad for lunch . Somehow something lit up in my brain and I started to see a connection with high potassium foods and me having migraine … So I made myself a salad packed with salt and the migraine disappeared …
    I only use Himalayan salt .. It has more minerals and oligoelements than any other , so I imagine it must be better for electrolyte balance

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