woman with headache, migraine

Q. I have ice pick migraines. They caused sharp stabbing pain in my head all day long, 7 days a week, until I heard about mustard. I can get two hours of pure pain relief from swallowing a teaspoon of yellow mustard. If I have to go out of the house to church or shopping, I get an hour of relief, due to all the stimulation.

I have not had this much pain relief in three years. I am so grateful for the little jar with the creamy yellow elixir in it.

A. Headache experts describe ice pick headaches as “jabs and jolts” or “stabs and jabs.” Usually, the pain is severe but short lived, lasting only a few seconds. That is why there have been very few treatments tested and found effective.

Your headaches are unusual because they occur throughout the day. We trust you have been evaluated by a headache expert or a neurologist to rule out other contributing factors.

Yours is the first report we have received regarding yellow mustard helping against this migraine variant. Another approach might be hand warming. A case published in the journal Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (June, 2011) describes a patient who got relief from his ice pick headaches by warming his hands.

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  1. Jae

    I used to describe this pain by saying it feels like someone is jabbing a letter opener in my head. In the past, I have gotten these pains 2-3 times a year…tops. And they never lasted long. This time, tho, it’s been two whole days. I can’t take too much ibuprofin due to other health issues. So at this point, I’ll try anything! I’m not a huge fan of mustard, so I don’t keep it stocked. I was able to find a packet of it leftover from the last time we ordered Chinese! I held my nose & gulped it about a half hour ago. So far there has been no change in the frequency or intensity of the pains. IDK if Chinese mustard is different from regular yellow mustard. Maybe that’s why it’s not working? I have a massage scheduled for tomorrow, so I will be mentioning HN’s suggestions.

    • Armando

      I suffered as all you have, until finally as if by chance , I was prescribed indocin. I’m free of those horrible ice pick headaches. It may be providence.

  2. Catherine

    This didn’t work for me :(

  3. Melinda

    Actually worked for me, but only for about 15 minutes. Odd, if I concentrated, I could still feel a slight intermittent throb, but the pain was gone.

  4. Mary l

    I have had ice pick headaches for two days now. Can hardly function. I tried mustard a 1/2hr ago and am still having them should I try again?

  5. sam

    I got rid of my headaches that I suffered from for years. When I got a headaches that sounds just like what is described in this post and what people talked about in the comments. When I had a headache I could not function. It shut me down. I suffered very badly until I googled these six words “pain at base of skull sinus” and I got my life back! I will never forget them. You should check it out.

  6. Kathy

    No relief for me after half an hour. I will try another spoonful, but remain skeptical.

  7. Sheila

    Having had ice pick headaches for the past 7 days and taking painkillers bringing no relief at all, I thought anything is worth a try so an hour ago took a spoonful of mustard and I now sit pain free. How long for I will have to wait and see but any respite is wonderful. As I have suffered from these pains for 30 years I really hope the mustard does the trick!

  8. Carl

    I have had an ice pick headache for 4 days consecutively. I just stumbled across this post 15 minutes ago and at this point I am desperate to try anything. I never buy into home remedies like this, but again, any port in the storm. So I swallowed a spoonful of yellow mustard and 15 minutes… No more stabbing pains. Hopefully someone else will come across this post and try it out. Trust a skeptic, it actually works.

    • Kathy B.
      New Jersey

      Have had a piercing pain on my right parietal area getting pains every minute for past few hours! Am heading to frig now for mustard!

    • Gwen

      I am going to try this before I go to my class so that I can concentrate. Praying that it works . will let you know.

  9. Icepickssuck

    I’ve had these since I was a child. I noticed that I had NONE while I was on anti anxiety meds, which I no longer take due to wanting natural remedies. I now take 5HTP and as long as I take them regularly, no Ice Picks. I missed a few days and had a few, so I googled and landed here. Also read Melatonin is helpful. This is the most painful condition, could also be described as a lighting bolt to the head. Hope you all find some relief.

  10. Kahleen

    I’m going to pass his on to my family members who have migranes.

  11. LS

    I’m glad to hear about this. I have had these ice pick headaches for over 20 years. I had an MRI without finding anything wrong. I saw a neurologist and he could not help. Only to give me meds. For the last 20 years when I get these I have taken ibuprofen every four hours around the clock.
    It seems to help what I thought was inflammation. This last time was rough and it would take 2 hours for it to kick in then I would start with pain again after four hours of taking it. I find it is like having a migraine. You have to take the meds before the pain gets too bad.
    These ice pick headaches last me for three days. Sometimes longer. I’ve always thought it was nerve pain. Still do because I hear that can be worse. And these aren’t headaches. They don’t feel inside so to speak. I sure wish there was an answer. I will try the massages. And mustard. They are very depressing especially when you try to sleep.

  12. Abigail

    Today I joined those who praise yellow mustard for muscle cramps. Astonishing. Very fatigued and had bags to haul up steps. The inner thigh cramps started a few hours later. Gasp and cringe cramps. A teaspoon of yellow mustard brought instant relief. Thank you Peoples Pharmacy for listening to your readers and passing along information that is so valuable. We can’t wait for years of research to validate this simple, inexpensive and effective remedy.

  13. Kahleen

    Very helpful information!

  14. Karen

    Yellow mustard is truly a miracle drug…used cold as a topical application, it will stop the pain from a burn immediately. You will need to reapply it when it becomes hard and solidifies, but as long as the pain remains, it will stop it until the initial pain goes away.

  15. HN

    Many ice pick or stabbing pain headaches are caused by trigger points in the muscles and tendons at the back of the neck, especially along the occipital ridge and C1 vertebrae, but also may be caused by trigger points in the upper trapezius and sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscles. I have helped many clients to be 100% free of these headaches by releasing their trigger points with as few as three weekly sessions of therapeutic massage.
    Typically, these clients have already gone to the E.R. or their doctor first, where serious conditions were ruled out, but they were given no advice to get trigger point therapy. Many times, they’re started on pharmaceutical drugs for migraine or anxiety, which do nothing for referred head pain from trigger points (but can start new health problems).
    Remedies like mustard can be a short-term fix, but trigger point therapy by a licensed massage therapist may provide a long-lasting solution.

    • Icepickssuck

      Probably something to this, as sometimes mine start when I turn my head. Thanks for your help, I’m going to try this.

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