5 Ways to Cope With Migraines When You're Sick

A natural approach to wellness


Having the flu, a cold, allergies or a bacterial infection is the pits. Throw migraine on top of it and you feel like death warmed over. It is tough trying to cope with severe head pain and all of the symptoms that come with migraine while battling an infection or seasonal allergies. Migraine never agrees with whatever is ailing the body and being sick can trigger an attack. The following tips are methods I use when I’m feeling under the weather and want to treat the illness and manage the migraine at the same time.

Herbal Teas

I love all kinds of tea! There is a pretty big variety of teas in my kitchen that I rely on for a multitude of ailments. Since I am already taking medications for migraine prevention, depression, and anxiety, I try to avoid using over-the-counter medications when I can. I prefer organic and non-GMO herbal teas where I can trust that the ingredients are pure and naturally obtained. You can find teas for immune support, sore throats, respiratory support, the common cold, and the flu.

I find that the teas are helpful, soothing, and provide a more immediate sense of relief. For instance, ginger or peppermint tea is helpful for upset stomachs and easing nausea, bloating, and diarrhea. Drinking several cups a day will help to not only ease your symptoms but flush out any toxins that could be contributing to what’s making you sick. Always consult with your doctor before incorporating any herbs or supplements, including herbal teas, as they can be contraindicated with the medication you are currently taking.

Essential Oils

Incorporating essential oils that are known to help with colds, allergies, and respiratory issues can be extremely helpful. Diffusing the oils in an oil diffuser is one of the most effective ways to receive the benefits of the oils you choose to use. The diffuser circulates water droplets containing the oil throughout the air in a fine mist. Oils used to help relieve cold and flu symptoms include lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint, melaleuca (tea tree) and rosemary. Some scents can be migraine triggers, so use the oils that work best for you and your migraine.

Salves/Muscle Balms

Sometimes when we are sick, our bodies get sore and we begin to feel achy all over. One way to relieve sore muscles is with a salve or muscle balm. I love a great, natural warming muscle balm that will ease soreness. They typically contain essential oils like lavender, peppermint, copaiba, camphor, or frankincense for a tingling sensation, as well as turmeric or cayenne for a warming sensation. You could also use them for congestion and to ease a sore chest from coughing. An added benefit is soft skin from ingredients like shea butter and olive oil! You can also kill two birds with one stone by using the balm to ease stiff neck muscles or occipital pain due to migraine.

Detox Baths

Who doesn’t love a warm soak in the tub! Not only is it relaxing, but by adding a few ingredients to your bath, it can be detoxifying and rejuvenating. Sweating is a natural way to detox your body. This is something I learned from my father growing up. It is definitely an old-school way of treating colds and the flu, but it works.

Preparing a detox bath is simple and uses ingredients you already have in your pantry. Add 2 cups Epsom salt, 1-2 cups baking soda, ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of your favorite essential oil to comfortably hot water. Ginger, fresh herbs, and even tea bags can be used. A good 20 or 40-minute soak will do. Drink water before soaking to avoid dehydration and continue drinking water afterward to flush out toxins. My favorite soak is an old West Indian remedy that I use whenever someone has the flu, fever, or severe cold. Follow these steps and you will feel so much better in the morning!

  1. Fill tub with comfortably hot water.
  2. Squeeze in fresh oranges and limes and add fruit to water.
  3. Add one cup of white rum (preferably over-proof).
  4. Soak for 20-30 minutes and rub sliced citrus all over body.
  5. Do not dry off after the bath and rub your body down with Benjamins Bay Rum.
  6. While still wet, put on pajamas and socks, get in the bed and wrap yourself up in blankets.
  7. Sleep like a baby!

Golden (Turmeric) Milk

One of the properties of turmeric is the compound curcumin, which acts as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It can help ease inflammation and joint pain, improve brain health and mood, help with heart health and lower blood sugar. It also helps boost the immune system, aids in digestion, and help fight infections with its antifungal, antiviral, and antifungal properties.

My favorite use of turmeric is making golden milk. Golden milk consists of unsweetened milk (animal or plant-based), turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, and maple syrup to sweeten. I drink it when I have a migraine or a cold and it helps alleviate a lot of my symptoms. And my kids love it too! Its many uses are a great addition to your cold care/migraine kit. I try to use all organic ingredients when I can, but it is not necessary to get results.

Golden Milk Recipe

In a small saucepan with ½ cup unsweetened milk, add:

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon ginger powder, or 1 small piece grated ginger
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp raw honey or pure maple syrup to sweeten, optional

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for ten minutes. Strain into mugs with a fine mesh strainer and enjoy!