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How to Stop a Migraine with a Mocha Frappuccino

A very cold drink to induce brain freeze might stop a migraine in its tracks. One reader says be sure it includes some caffeine.

Migraines are miserable. Any sufferer can tell you that without medication a migraine can result in hours or even days lying still in a dark, quiet room or throwing up in the bathroom. Is it possible to stop a migraine before it gets a good start?

Brain Freeze for Migraine Headaches:

Q. A reader recently asked about brain freeze as a migraine cure. She had failed to get results when she tried to stop a migraine with an “ice cream headache.”

As a fellow sufferer, I can attest to the effectiveness of brain freeze for stopping a migraine, but I believe adding caffeine is the key. A mocha Frappuccino© from Starbucks, slurped briskly, does the trick for me!

Caffeine to Stop a Migraine:

A. There is probably a reason why you find caffeine helpful in your brain freeze remedy. According to the National Headache Foundation, blood vessels in the head often dilate just at the start of a migraine. Caffeine makes those blood vessels constrict, which could enhance the effect of the brain freeze. After all, the cold on the roof of the mouth is also making blood vessels constrict.

Before sumatriptan and the other effective migraine medications, one of the standard treatments for migraine headaches was a drug called Cafergot. Although it is less frequently used now, it is still available. Cafergot contains caffeine and ergotamine, and is most effective when it is taken at the first hint of a migraine headache. Most other migraine treatments, including brain freeze solutions with or without caffeine, also work best when taken as early in the course of the migraine as possible.

We offer other suggestions for dealing with this painful condition in our Guide to Headaches & 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..
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