Now used as a treatment for more than a dozen health conditions, including Multiple Sclerosis, muscle spasms and even overactive sweat glands, Botulinum Toxin (Botox) is also FDA approved to treat chronic migraines. In reality, Botox’s ability to assist with migraines was discovered rather accidentally. It was only after individuals who had regular Botox injections to reduce fine lines and wrinkles in their foreheads, also noticed improvement with their headaches as well.
While it may seem tempting to forego your current treatment for Botox, there are a number of things to consider beforehand. Below we will discuss what you need to know before you use Botox, risks and side effects associated with its use of Botox and a few natural alternatives.
What You Need to Know Before You Use Botox
Before you jump on the Botox bandwagon, there are a few things you should know.
For starters, because most clinical research is still largely inconclusive about Botox’s effectiveness for treating migraines, most insurers will not foot the bill. This means using Botox as a primary treatment for migraines can become quite costly.
On average, a single Botox injection for migraines costs around $525. It typically also takes between six and nine months to experience the full benefits, with two to three injections during that time. Couple this with the fact you need a medical professional to administer the neurotoxin, and you’re looking at spending $1,500 to $2,300 total.
In addition, current research has shown Botox typically only reduces the frequency of migraines by about two per month. Plus, studies have found Botox is largely ineffective for individuals with episodic migraines (fewer than 15 per month) and chronic tension-type headaches. At best, Botox has shown only modest improvement in migraine frequency and severity.
Furthermore, not all healthcare professionals are fully educated about Botox nor properly trained in how to administer it. In many cases, patients have been left with significant bruising at the injection site, which can be both alarming and annoying. Even plastic surgeons are not always familiar with using Botox for migraines.
It’s also important to remember Botox is a preventative treatment, rather than curative.
Warnings for Using Botox for Migraines
Using Botox can come along with numerous side effects and health risks. While the most frequent side effect of using Botox for migraines is severe neck pain and/or stiffness, other commonly reported side effects include:
- Allergic reactions (rash, itching)
- Droopy eyelids and/or eyebrows
- Back pain
- Muscle stiffness and/or weakness
- Difficulty swallowing
- Shortness of breath
- Stomach pain
- Crooked smile and/or drooling
- Loss of appetite
- Flu/cold symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose)
- Respiratory infections
- Dry mouth
- Ringing in the ears
- Overactive sweat glands
- Urinary tract infections
- Difficult and/or painful urination
In addition, there are numerous short-term side effects, typically found at the injection site:
Thankfully, there are a number of natural alternatives to using Botox for migraines. While the root cause of most migraines is unknown, a number of alternative therapies and lifestyle changes can reduce the frequency and severity of these cumbersome headaches.
Stress is thought to be one potential cause of migraines and other tension-related headaches. So, one of the best ways to reduce the suffering that comes alongside migraines is implementing stress reduction techniques in your everyday routine.
One of the best ways to reduce stress is exercise. Exercise, and physical activity in general, is scientifically proven to produce endorphins. Endorphins act as natural painkillers, which can help relieve migraines as well. Practicing yoga and meditation also produce similar effects.
Another great way to treat migraines naturally is by using various essential oils and/or herbal remedies. Numerous essential oils and herbs have been shown to reduce stress, promote relaxation and improve mood. Depending on what tends to trigger your migraines, different remedies may be used.
If depression is a trigger for your migraines, citrus oils likely will help. If your migraines are brought on by lack of sleep, try juniper, chamomile and lavender oil. If sinus pressure or sinusitis tends to give you migraines, try belladonna. In addition to relieving severe pain from headaches, belladonna has been shown to release pressure and congestion in the sinuses. This helps to provide a long-term solution should sinus pressure be the root cause of your migraines.
Another popular herbal remedy is iris versicolor, a flower proven to help symptoms associated with migraines, including nausea and dizziness. Ginger is another powerful herb that can relieve nausea and pain as well.
In addition to the aforementioned solutions, there are a number of vitamins and supplements you can add to your daily routine to assist with your migraines. Studies have shown taking a daily vitamin B2 (riboflavin) supplement may treat migraines. It has no known side effects, beyond occasionally causing discolored urine. Typically, it is recommended to take at least 400 milligrams per day of vitamin B2 for it to be effective.
According to some studies, vitamin D also may reduce the frequency of migraines. While it’s best to obtain this vitamin from its natural source, sunlight, you also can supplement your diet with a powder or capsule form of the vitamin as well. There are no side effects with the recommended dose of vitamin D, though some individuals have reported mild fatigue and nausea.
Perhaps the easiest natural alternative to Botox for migraines is a change in diet. It’s thought that diets packed with artificial ingredients, additives and harmful chemicals, such as MSG and aspartame, also may be linked to higher occurrences of migraines.
Simplify your diet by incorporating as many whole foods as possible, with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Always read the label before purchasing prepackaged or boxed food and avoid any foods containing the aforementioned ingredients.
→ For more information on foods that can help prevent migraines, click here.
Other natural alternatives to Botox for migraines include:
- Chiropractic care
With limited research, it’s hard to say how truly effective Botox is for migraines. At best, current evidence suggests it only provides modest relief. Plus, with numerous healthier alternatives, the need for Botox is low. Ultimately, it is up to you whether the risks outway the potential benefits with using Botox for migraines.
→ For more information on how to get rid of migraines, click here.