Q. I heard a caller on your radio show talk about cayenne pepper to treat migraines. I have been using this treatment myself for a number of years, and I believe I know why it works, for me anyway.
One of my migraine triggers is sinus pressure, usually caused by allergies. The hot pepper helps clear my sinuses and bring relief. Wasabi and other spicy foods work well too.
I also find that a Neti pot keeps my migraines at bay. Since discovering this, I have gone from having migraines that would last for days two or three times a month to one or two migraines a year that I can usually treat and be rid of.

A. Thanks for sharing your story. Some headache sufferers may want to try your preventive approach of rinsing the sinuses with saline. Others may be interested in using cayenne or wasabi to cut a migraine short.
We discuss various medications and non-drug alternatives in our Guide to Headaches and Migraines. Some readers report that the opposite approach, eating ice cream or a slushy to induce “brain freeze,” is effective at stopping a migraine attack in its tracks.

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  1. S.
    Reply

    Although I’ve “cleaned” my diet of food and drink that seemed to be inducing migraines, I now notice they seem to come close to my period. Headache today and yesterday, days 3 and 4 of my period. Today’s headache is worse than yesterday’s.
    I also seem to be having an extended hot flash with this headache. (I am peri-menopausal.)
    Last period, no headache but I did note two days of headaches two days after the period before that one. :(
    I usually ride them out but today I’m going to try the Neti pot to see if it helps.
    I’ll also drink some lemon-water with red pepper and a little honey when I’m done.
    I hope this helps. Tired of the nausea!

  2. DV
    Reply

    I read about taking cayenne and I tried it with much success! I suffer(ed) from 2-3 migraines a week and was desperate so I thought why not? I also was on the highest dose of topamax to no effect. I take 2-3 cayenne pepper pills a day and have been migraine free for 2 months now.

  3. SDW
    Reply

    My migraine headaches went away when I discovered that consuming wheat was the cause. It is worth trying to discover food triggers that may be causing your migraine issues.

  4. Irving
    Reply

    Hi Irv, Please take care
    The pill is PROPRANOLOL. I take it twice a day now…10 mg each. They now have it that you take 1 a day and it works like a spansule. spreads out for the whole day…Good luck.. it worked for me and Ethel Smith and a few of my friends.

  5. MJW
    Reply

    What do you do with the peppers? And is cayenne powder just as good? Do you rinse your nasal passages, or ingest?

  6. Gary W
    Reply

    Please explain what is done with the cayenne peppers or the wasabi. Are you just eating some whenever the migraine comes on?

  7. edf
    Reply

    I would like to know how the hot pepper, Wasabi and other spicy foods are used to treat migraines. Is is consumed as food or in a nasal wash? Thanks
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: PUTTING HOT PEPPER IN A NASAL WASH WOULD BE EXTREMELY PAINFUL (ALTHOUGH WE HAVE HEARD FROM SOME PEOPLE WHO DO THIS). WE WOULD NOT RECOMMEND THIS WITHOUT SOME SORT OF EXPERIENCED SUPERVISION.
    WASABI WOULD PRESUMABLY HAVE THE DESIRED EFFECT OF CLEARING THE SINUSES SIMPLY BY EATING A SMALL AMOUNT.

  8. RC1956
    Reply

    I have used the Neti pot for sinus congestion and headache several times. It works for me for the headaches, I think because it acts like a hot pack inside my face. I do notice a congestion relieving effect from wasabi and other spicy foods that set the nose to draining.
    Grapefruit seed extract nasal spray obtained from my local health food store also works well on me without the usual side effects. There are also some health teas for fighting colds, sore throat, etc. that work for these problems.
    Good luck.

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