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A Spoonful of Yellow Mustard Eases Pain of Ice Pick 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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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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