Soaking Your Feet in Hot Water for Migraine Relief: Why it Helps?

Migraines are a complex neurovascular disease. They cause widespread symptoms like intense pain, brain fog, and nausea. Soaking your feet in hot water or applying ice to your head may lower the intensity and frequency of your migraines and provide migraine relief in general. Thermal therapy, or heat or cold application, works by changing the size of your blood vessels to stop the pain pathway.

Key takeaways:

What causes migraines?

Migraine is a chronic neurovascular disorder that causes throbbing, intense head pain. The pain in the head is usually concentrated on one side of the head. You might also feel pain in your eyes, jaw, or neck.

So what causes this severe, debilitating pain? Researchers believe it’s a combination of things working together. If you have migraines, your nervous system is too sensitive. A major factor in migraines is the trigeminal nerve.

When the trigeminal nerve overreacts to an outside trigger, it may set off a chain of reactions in your brain and blood vessels that may cause pain. People with migraine experience a slow-moving wave of electrical energy across the brain called cortical depression. This wave triggers the trigeminal nerve to cause a reaction that temporarily widens your blood vessels.

This reaction also changes the thin layer of tissue covering your brain, brain stem, and hypothalamus. This change causes your widespread migraine symptoms.

Migraines may cause:

  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Skin pain without cause
  • Sensitivity to light, noise, and smell

Luckily, there are home remedies and tricks to help your migraines.

Soaking you in hot water for migraine relief

Thermal, also known as heat therapy, is the latest remedy that may provide natural relief for migraines at home. There are widespread reports of people using heat to take the edge off of their pain. Soaking your feet in hot water may work best when using other natural home remedies or medications for migraines, too.

How does It work?

Soaking your feet in hot water may reduce the frequency and intensity of your migraines. It may also improve the health of your autonomic nervous system, including the trigeminal and vagus nerves. You may be able to have fewer intense pain days a month without taking extra medication.

Soaking your feet in hot water for migraine relief may change the way your blood flows in your body. It can help your nervous system by targeting your vagus nerve. The vagus nerve may be able to stop the trigeminal nerve from widening your blood vessels. This balances your neurotransmitters and stops cortical depression, too. All of this works together to ease your migraine while you soak your feet in hot water.

Using heat or cold?

Soaking your feet in hot water for migraine relief works best when you’re using cold therapy and your prescribed medication. While you're soaking your feet in hot water, use a cool gel cap on your head for about 5 minutes. When you remove the gel pack, massage your temples.

Make sure you’re soaking your feet in hot water for 20 minutes every day for the best migraine relief. Always check the water to prevent any unexpected burns. The water should be between 103°F and 110°F (39.4°C and 43.3°C).

On its own, cold therapy may be just as effective as heat in treating your migraines. A cold pack may block your migraine pain by calming your nerves and narrowing your blood vessels. In one study, cold therapy helped 76% of people with headaches.

Natural migraine relief

Heat and cold therapy aren’t the only natural home remedies for migraines. If you're looking for how to get rid of migraines naturally, try herbal remedies or daily yoga.


Practicing yoga with a medication plan may be more effective than medication alone. Researchers believe yoga may improve the health of your vagus nerve too

Some people report aggressive exercise as a trigger. Yoga is a slow, mindful movements that may be less triggering. It may be the trick you’re looking for to help you find relief from migraines at home.

Herbal remedies

You may be able to use herbs to treat your migraines naturally from home:

Peppermint essential oil may provide instant migraine relief in just 5 minutes. This herb may lower the number of migraines you have and make them less painful. Check with your doctor before you take any new herbs or medications.

Some people with migraines don’t find relief with medication alone. You may be able to treat your migraines at home by soaking your feet in hot water, taking your prescribed medication, and using other home remedies.

Have you found success with natural migraine home remedies? What about medications? Leave a comment below on your favourite migraine hacks.

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