The People's Perspective on Medicine

Can You Mitigate a Migraine with a Milkshake?

Drinking a cold chocolate milkshake quickly to trigger an ice cream headache can often mitigate a migraine headache.
Chocolate milk shake to fight migraine headache

Migraine headaches are debilitating as well as painful. Many sufferers report nausea and an inability to stand light or sound that imprisons them in a darkened room until the symptoms pass. There are medications, such as sumatriptan, that can mitigate a migraine. However, not every migraineur responds well to them. They may welcome a simple remedy, no matter how implausible it might sound.

Could Drinking a Milkshake Mitigate a Migraine Headache?

Q. After 50 years of almost daily migraine headaches, I found out by accident that drinking a Starbucks Frappuccino would knock out my pain immediately. Then I got a migraine during a wild thunder and lightening storm on a somewhat remote road without a Starbucks in sight.

I went to a McDonald’s instead and had a chocolate milkshake. Voilà! Same help.

It’s the brain freeze that is ‘the checker’ for me. Plain ice water will not do it. I believe the viscosity is necessary.

The Beauty of Brain Freeze:

A. Many other people tell us that icy-cold beverages or ice cream can be helpful against migraine headaches. Inducing brain freeze seems to interrupt the pain pathways that underlie a migraine. We suspect that this technique results in neuromodulation, which is considering a promising approach for the future (Puledda and Goadsby, Headache, April 2017). Scientists do not seem to have studied the tactic of exposing the roof of the mouth to extreme cold, however.

Not everyone benefits from this strategy. Some people are unable to induce an ice cream headache and other don’t find it useful. There are other options for people who can’t utilize brain freeze to mitigate their migraines. Those who would like to learn more about a variety of approaches to ease headache pain may be interested in our Guide to Headaches and Migraines.

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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. .
Headaches & Migraines

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Headaches & Migraines
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If you get migraines from the preservatives in ice cream, then your remedy will not work! (I get sever migraines from cream and ice cream that is not organic and free of additives).
Maybe you just have low blood sugar, maybe other sweeties would work too.

A previous article mentioned hot pepper soup being useful for stopping migraines.
Since that isn’t always quickly available I decided to try hot sauce. Works very well dropped right on the tongue. I carry a tiny bottle in my purse at all times now.

I occasionally get auras relating to migraines, usually when I am late eating regularly. Eating or drinking something, especially with caffeine, sends the aura away. In my earlier years, from about age 11, I had classic migraines, and doctor then prescribed cafergot. I had to be careful that I didn’t over use them, as the caffeine jolt was pretty severe, or could be. I evidently outgrew the classic phase and things have been much better, since.

In his book “Migraine” the late Dr. Oliver Sacks points to only one structure in the brain region that may be responsible for migraines. It is called the spheno palatine ganglion. This is a nerve bundle with portions housed in the roof of the mouth. When a cold substance comes into contact with these nerves it gives the brain the signal that the environment is very cold. To return warmth to the brain vessels start to swell which causes the pain. This signal overwhelms and shunts the signal leading to a migraine. Plain ice water may well work if it is held in the mouth for a few seconds longer than normal.

I have found a great way to relieve migraines with Tumeric Powder as follows:

2 tile spoons of Honey in a 4 oz Glass
few shakes of black pepper
1/2 Tsp of Tumeric Powder
Add Milk to all of this

Then Microwave on high for 35 Seconds
Then stir completely and drink
Results are that the headache is gone in about 30 to 40 Min

The only thing is if your on blood thinner Meds you can’t take this without Dr’s Consult

Has anyone had any luck with the 3-day migraines triggered by hormone (female) changes? I get these each month.

Well, in terms of heat transfer away from the sinus cavity above the roof of the mouth, nothing should be more effective than shaved ice. It conforms most closely to the surface and packs most densely.

The more molecules of frozen water are in contact with the mouth roof, the more heat (calories or joules) are drawn to change it from the solid to liquid state.

That science aside, the lesson is that if you are away from home and sense a migraine starting, go into the nearest bar and ask the bartender for a glass of shaved ice. Or find a snow-cone stand.

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