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See How Brain Freeze Can Stop a Migraine Headache in its Tracks

If you have ever eaten something really cold very quickly you know the agony of brain freeze. What if inducing an ice cream headache could stop a migraine?
Cold sweet popsicle

If you have ever eaten ice cream, consumed a popsicle or sipped a Slushie or Frappucino too fast, you may have experienced “brain freeze.” It’s also been called an ice-cream headache.

Doctors have given it a tongue twister name: sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. When the roof of the mouth comes into contact with something very cold for more than a few seconds, a nerve reaction appears to cause rapid blood vessel constriction and then dilation. Pain radiates from the palate to the brain and it can be intense until the roof of the mouth warms up again.

Some people have told us that inducing brain freeze can stop a migraine headache.

Q. I know when my burning headaches go all day it’s because the weather has gone from too hot to too cold at the snap of my fingers. Or rain is on the way within the next day or two. But after popping pain pills all day with no relief, why does eating spoonfuls of chocolate peanut butter ice cream take the pain right away?

A. Four years ago we wrote that “we have no idea why chocolate peanut butter ice cream helps headaches, but we can’t think of a tastier treatment.”

Some people actually develop something called ice-cream headaches if they eat very cold food too fast. It means that nerves in the roof of the mouth have been overwhelmed by the cold.

Not long after that newspaper column appeared than we received this response:

Q. Holy cow! I can’t believe ice cream is a legitimate treatment for headaches.

I just had three migraines right in a row and didn’t know how I was going to take care of my 3-month-old baby all day if the cycle kept going. I ate an ice cream bar and my migraine was gone almost instantly. I figured it was coincidental but I’m glad to see from your website that I’m not nuts!

A. Ever since one reader reported migraine relief from eating chocolate peanut-butter ice cream, we have heard from many others that ice cream can help stop these horrible headaches. It is possible that the “brain freeze” from quickly eating something very cold may interrupt the migraine process.

If you would like to see our video about this process and a more up-to-date scientific explanation, here’s a video with more details:


Share your own migraine success story below in the “ADD YOUR THOUGHTS” section and please vote on this article at the top of the page.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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Try frozen lemonade/slushie, and slurp a bunch down through a straw. Works for me.

I just did this with ice cream and it worked.
I have a feeling that the reason SOME people are saying that its working but then its not is because of WHAT they are using:
caffeinated drinks – the caffeine is used a lot in migraine relief meds (excedrine for example). Your body will become acclimated to it and require more and more until you get off it and get the caffeine withdrawal headaches.
I’d stick to ice water or ice cream. NOT fraps ect – nothing with the caffeine.

I just watched a video of a guy suggesting brain freeze cures migraines. Minutes ago, I held ice to the roof of my mouth. By the third piece, I was headache free. I had this migraine all day. IT’S GONE.

While any type of ice cream sounds delicious, when I have a migraine the last thing on my mind is eating, I am so nauseous that I can barely keep water down, and have on occasion, thrown up after drinking water. It may work for some people but I am almost sure it would not work for me with out causing me to throw up violently.

I didn’t know this method was legit. I would get awful migraines several times a week and i would almost always keep a bottle of iced water with me. I’ve heard that drinking iced water on the daily basis isn’t good, but headaches and migraines are way to frequent. So far the best remedy right now though.

It is actually NOT legit. Have yet to see any proof of it working and if you will notice, there is no actual person used that can be verified to say that yes it does work and have an eeg to prove it.

My son told me about this method and I’m trying it right now. I have a bunch of ice water in a coffee pot. It hasn’t gotten rid of the pain, but it has dulled it. I haven’t gone through actual brain freeze though–at least what I’m familiar with as brain freeze. I am not sure where that nerve is that you are supposed to hit.

What works is to put the ice water on the crown of my head on the side where the migraine is. There is a hotspot there when I get one. Unfortunately, the pain comes back when the spot heats up again. I can’t sit there holding ice water on my head for 8 hours :(

I was just at a muay thai class and took a few pretty good punches to the head and probably have a light concussion, my visions is a little doubled and I feel dazed and foggy, with a headache setting in. I got a slushy from 7/11 as a refreshment and just noticed inducing a brain freeze temporarily helps clear up symptoms. I am every second of every day a chronic migraine suffer and I have POTS. This does not work for my normal migraine. I share this in the hope it helps someone or helps a researcher do their job. You can contact me about experimental migriane treatment. Ive probably already tried it though. No diets or opioids though…I’ve had enough of those, thank you.

I fill a cup with ice cubes, add water, take small, quick successive sips from a straw until the freeze sets in.

WORKS!!! I’m stoked.

This works. I have had migraine headaches since the age of 16 (now 47), and I somehow happened on this after a doctor friend told me to drink coffee when I felt a migraine coming on, as caffeine is a main ingredient of a lot of migraine medicines.

Well, coffee worked somewhat but only if I caught the headache REALLY early on, what I found though was that Starbucks ICED COFFEE really worked even if the headache had progressed, and Haagen Dazs coffee ice cream eaten fast worked even better than the iced drink.

I discovered both of these brands have higher levels of caffeine than some of the other brands, and for me at least, it seems that the combination of cold ice cream AND caffeine ends the migraine instantly.

After suffering in bed all day for the last 8 hours, I just dragged myself to the grocery store to buy the ice cream because I had none in the house. Migraine gone.

My doctor years ago told me to try Starbucks Frappacinos. This worked for a while but I think my body became resistant to brain freeze from mildly cold products. Even ice cubes stopped working. Recently I had a Sonic Slush. That slush gave me terrible brain freeze. At the time I didn’t have a migraine. Then I got a migraine and the medication was not kicking it. I went and got myself a slush. Drank it fast and non stop until brain freeze hit. Bam, migraine instantly gone. I’ve done this with my past two migraines. As the migraine comes back, within an hour or so, I continue to induce brain freeze. Works like a charm. I’ve been suffering from migraines for nearly 20 years. I go through all my migraine meds every month. Now I’m just going to induce brain freeze and see if I can stay away from the meds. Rather than an ice cube, I’m going to try grinding the ice and see if I can save a trip to Sonic.

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