Q. You recently wrote about an ice cream cure for a migraine. I am a lifetime sufferer. While in the throes of a multi-day migraine, I ate ice cream too fast and got “brain freeze.” My migraine disappeared. This has been my best remedy for about 20 years now, and I hope it will work for someone else.
A. Doctors call brain freeze sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. It can be very painful. It occurs when very cold foods or beverages like slushies or ice cream numb the nerves in the roof of the mouth.
You are the second person to tell us that an ice-cream headache stopped a more prolonged and serious migraine. Those who do not get relief, however, may wish to consult our Guide to Headaches and Migraines for other treatments.

Join Over 90,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

Each week we send two free email newsletters with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies and a preview of our award-winning radio show. Join our mailing list and get the information you need to make confident choices about your health.

  1. Cynthia Arias
    United States

    I can have migraines every single day and was wondering if there was a specific type of ice cream to cure the migraine?

  2. Lori

    I know I feel better when starting to suffer from a migraine or allergic reaction when I jump in a cool lake or drink ice water and I kept wondering if ice cream would help. I think it may be to do with the coldness and maybe it chills the inflammation and the nerves that carry the pain. They now have rugby players and other athletes get into a freezer rv type thing during and after matches and it really makes any swelling go down. I used to go stand in the really cold walk in refrigerated beer section of the grocery store and it made my headaches go way way down. So I’m really thinking the ice creams chills the brain and nerves, etc. I’m going to buy an ice cream maker and keep ice cream going in the freezer, and I can keep it natural and not add lots of sugar, but plan to add blue berries , etc. I keep about 6 of those gel packs in the freezer to put ON my head, now I can chill inside too! I’ll chill inside and out. :D

  3. Tony

    I have had bad headaches and 3 times in the last year I have eaten ice cream and gotten relief….. probably a 90% reduction in pain. At first I thought it was a fluke but tonight it happened again so I know it’s something to consider. Now I just have to narrow it down to what is helping…… the cold? The sugar? Both?

    I have had migraines (some hemiplegic and scary lately) for 25 years but never tried ice cream for them. Many of my migraines have no headache associated but most do.

    Side-note: putting an ice pack on my head doesn’t yield the same positive results.

  4. Robert

    I find this very interesting. I have constant headaches. My neurolgist has put me on gabapentin. That was recently changed to topamax. I also recently had my second round of 31 botox shots. I am waiting to be scheduled for a CT scan. I am unable to have an MRI because I have a pacemaker. I recently got an ice cream headache after eating ice cream. This stopped my pain for about an hour. I was able to fall asleep.

  5. Michelle

    I have had several migraines so far this month, and although I am an avid ice chewer I tend not to want to chew ice when I get migraines. Today started with another migraine. I decided to get my morning cup of ice water anyway since I was thirsty. A moment after I notced the pain eased. I began chewing on my ice like normal and received several minutes of relief.
    My migraine has not been eliminated, however this IS the first time I have ever gotten relief from anything other than medicine, sleep, or the combination of the two. Cold packs against the outside of my head have never helped, so I am curious as to why the stimulation of nerves that trigger a ‘brain freeze’ would help. Perhaps it just over-stimulates the brain? Would love to know the medical reason.

  6. Napy

    I read about ice cream and ate some when I had a migraine a few days ago. It worked. I was not sure because sometimes mine come and go seemingly without cause.
    But today I woke up with a full on migraine and went for the ice cream. While I was eating my first few bites I perked up the headache went away and since then I have been normal.
    I assume it is the eating of cold things so I have some frozen fruit too so I can blend some up with milk for a thick smoothie.
    WHEW! Sof ar it works for me. I hope it lasts.

  7. Rachael

    I’ve had a migraine for 4 days now, I’ve tried lots pills to try & get rid of it with no relief, along came our local ice cream truck, I ate an ice creams & it’s the biggest relief I’ve had in days. This usually works whenever I have a migraine. Frozen yogurt also works.

  8. bernie

    I’m on about the 4th or 5th day of my current migraine and I usually share a little slow churned (1/2 the fat) ice cream after dinner with my papillon, Sophie. Unfortunately, trying to give myself an ice cream headache doesn’t work for me. I eat big mouthfuls, holding it against the roof of my mouth as long as I can, but it doesn’t even touch my headache. It’s like the pain in my head is so much worse than the ice cream headache, that it doesn’t even faze me. Any suggestions?

  9. Jess

    I have also discovered that ice cream can at least give me relief from a migraine! I will eat a few ice cream lollipops over the course of an hour, highly caloric of course, but the relief form the pain is worth it. It has happened to me that the migraine kept going and I even had to throw up, but throwing up ice cream is not too bad.

  10. Alli

    I too have noticed recently that cold drinks, or milk shakes make my migraine SO much better. Just the cold drink touching the roof of my mouth has an immediate effect on my headache. I haven’t tried ice cream yet but now I’m going to have to.

  11. J.A.

    I have fewer headaches since eating more low carb, however when the weather changes, I still get one now and then. The good LORD gave us ice cream because he loves us and wants us to be enjoy his blessings. The Lord Jesus has, very often, used it to cure a headache. It doesn’t work every time, though, but it works enough to make a trip to the store every time I get a headache. Maybe I should be proactive and just eat ice cream every day?:)

  12. Cdp

    I found that immersing yourself in water, whether it be a pool or a lake or a tub, for some reason helps too.

  13. Cathy

    I am suffering migraine now and its really too difficult for me specially now that I have a 5months old baby. Almost every week i suffer a migraine. I searched to see if icecream can cure a migraine then I saw all the comments here. I tried it to see if it’s really effective.
    Well just a spoon of ice cream and my migraine totally went away so now I know that every time a migraine attacks me I knw what to do…I must be buy lots of ice cream to stock it in my refrigerator. :)

  14. Beer drinker

    Ice cream headaches cure my hangovers, I’ve read that it widens a valve in the brain that sends more blood to the brain as a defense mechanism to try to keep the brain warm, I’m assuming the increased blood flow helps the blood acclimate from the effect of the alcohol which is known to effect the blood.

  15. Gerardo L D

    Toda mi vida e tenido migraña (tengo 53 años), e probado diferentes medicamentos y en una ocasión se me ocurrió masticar hielo y deglutirlo sentí un “dolor” en el cerebro y en unos 15 minutos desapareció el dolor, casi magia. Creo que en realidad solo tiene que ver con el frió cuando llega al estómago y nada que ver con x sustancias que tenga un helado, lo que te cura es el frió.

  16. jp

    I had suffered migraines for years without being properly diagnosed.Then I went on daily doses of pills that made me sleepy……….fast forward to present now I consume mass quantities of ice cream my favourite food of all time when pain enters my life. It was an accident that I found the cure. I ate ice cream to settle a queezy stomach caused by mass quantities of aspirin because my furinal w / codeine ran out and Dr. not available.
    Instant pain removal……I tried it next attack without drugs and once again…………..(smiles) instant pain removal. The imaginary sack of falling bricks on my head…the imaginary sledge hammer hitting my head were all removed. Once I was eating my usual black cherry cone (3 scoops) in my car and the people in the next car were laughing at me. I had ice cream all over my beard and face………..but no migraine!

  17. RGB

    I happened on the ice cream cure ( very cold against roof of mouth that is) cure by accident. In a pinch ice chips or ice cubes work too. Or if on the road any gas station freezee, frosty, or slushy.

  18. bd

    I got my my first-ever migraine around 5pm last night. I was up almost all night feeling nauseous, head pounding, unable to sleep because the pain was so intense. Around 4:30am I could tell that it wasn’t just going to go away on it’s own so I did some googling. I found this article and decided to give it a try. (Even though food was the LAST thing that I wanted!!!)
    I don’t eat ice cream so I ran to the store and got some mango sorbet. (Weird, I know. lol) I ate about 1/2 pint. I tried to eat it pretty slowly and for the first few bites I held it in my mouth for a while. (I read somewhere that holding it against the soft palate is part of the trick.)
    I felt a little better after 10-15 minutes and after about 30 minutes-1 hour I was whistling and fixing myself some breakfast. It totally worked! Holy cow!!! (And for those of you who suffer from these regularly, I just want to cry for you. I am so sorry. I can’t imagine going through these all the time.)

  19. Karen

    My husband thinks this is just an excuse for me to eat ice cream. However, a couple years ago, I noted that after I ate some ice cream, my migraine went away. I had tried my theory on several other occasions and again, my migraine headaches went away. I have had a recurring migraine for the past 12 days that my prescription medication has helped but the headache has returned each day. My doctor said that I needed to stop the cycle by not taking the medication. So, I didn’t take my medication last night and I was in pain all night and into the morning. At 6:00 a.m. I decided to try my ice cream theory again and within 15 minutes, my migraine was gone. I’m a believer!

  20. Rob B

    I didn’t know about this cure. Last night I suffered a visual migraine, no other pain, while eating dinner. I progressively lost peripheral vision with flashing lights and zig zag lines. Other than the visual impairment I felt fine, so I had 2 scoops of chocolate ice cream for dessert (flavor shouldn’t matter LOL). After the 3rd bite of really cold ice cream (no brain freeze) my vision cleared immediately. This after 20 minutes of a progressively worsening visual migraine.

  21. Danielle

    Icecream is one of the few things that work for me. Seems to me anything that releases “feel good chemicals” i cant remember the name for them sorry, and another one is someone making me laugh it dulls it instantly.
    and a nice relaxing hot bath along with washing your hair is good to.
    theres a few other things that help me but not sure if i should go into them on here.

  22. Criss

    I have had this happen to me to, I had a really really bad headache then I bought ice cream. I ate it and it worked! It was gone in like 5-30 mins, I don’t know the exact time of what happened.

  23. Catherine

    I have debilitating migraines and have for about 8 years. I have tried this once and it WORKS!!! Does anyone know if lowfat frozen yogurt, like you get at McDonald’s will work? It’s a lot lower in calories and fat. I’m going to keep ice cream at home and at work!!!

  24. me

    Do you think it has any thing to do with the calcium in ice cream? I have been taking a calcium pill with a couple of Motrin and it seems to relieve the pain.

  25. aux

    I’ve experienced this too and didn’t require brain freeze either. At first I thought it was just a coincidence. But there was a time when I had a migraine and felt very nauseous that I opted to just lie on the bed. I remembered the ice cream experience and immediately requested for some, after few minutes of eating ice cream, I felt better.
    Been relying on ice cream to cure my migraine for 10 yrs now. And for me, its effect is faster than pills and sleep. :)

  26. JH

    Holy cow, I can’t believe this is a legitimate treatment… I just had three migraines right in a row and didn’t know how I was going to take care of my 3 month old all day if the cycle kept going. I ate an ice cream bar and my migraine was gone almost instantly. I figured it was highly coincidental but I’m glad to see I’m not nuts!

  27. Nicole

    Worked for me at least when I tried it for the first time recently!

  28. K.w

    Does it have to be a certain kind of ice cream?

  29. Becky

    I have always claimed that ice cream will cure my headaches/migraines. It doesn’t require a brain freeze to do it, but I will sure try to get one next time! One day I came home from work to find the medicine on the counter I thought I had taken at lunch. I had had a headache all day and didn’t want to take more meds on top what I thought I had taken. I popped the pill and ate a bowl of ice cream while I made supper. My headache disappeared within 30 minutes. Thank you for acknowledging something I knew was true.

  30. RKX

    I had a similar experience. I’d had a headache for two days and could not get rid of it. My friend picked up ice cream at lunch time and after eating it … within about 10 minutes … the headache was completely gone. Don’t know if it will work every time, but I was truly glad it did this time!

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted.