The People's Perspective on Medicine

Sonic Slush, Brain Freeze and Migraine Relief

Why would anyone want to create brain freeze? Some people report that drinking something cold or eating ice cream can sometimes provide migraine relief.

Have you ever had a really bad headache? What about a migraine? We know that the last thing a person with a major migraine would want to do is add to the misery by inducing brain freeze. And yet we have heard from a great many readers that if they can trigger temporary brain freeze they can get migraine relief. Here is just the latest example of this very odd home remedy.

Frappuccino vs. Sonic Slush for Migraine Relief

Q. I’ve been suffering from migraines for nearly 20 years and max out all my migraine meds every month. Years ago, my doctor told me to try a Starbucks Frappucino to stop a migraine. 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, though, I had a Sonic Slush. That slush gave me terrible brain freeze. At the time I didn’t have a headache.

Then I got a migraine and the medication was not kicking it. I went and got myself a slush. I drank it fast, nonstop, until brain freeze hit. Bam, the migraine was instantly gone.

I’ve done this with my past two migraines. The migraine comes back within an hour or so, so I continue to drink the slush. It works like a charm.
Now when I get a migraine, I’m just going to induce brain freeze and see if I can stay away from the meds. Rather than an ice cube, I’ll try grinding the ice and see if I can save a trip to Sonic.

Migraine Relief By Triggering TRP Channels:

A. We suspect that this fascinating migraine remedy works through transient receptor potential (TRP) channels, specifically TRPM8. This channel helps nerves sense cold and is also sensitive to compounds such as menthol. Research shows that TRPM8 is implicated in migraines (Headache, Oct. 2016). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27634619

If brain freeze can help you beat your migraine headaches, we applaud you. Here is a comment from another reader: “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 although I’d had this migraine all day. IT’S GONE.”

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Other Stories from Readers:

Gloria shared her substitute brain freeze strategy:

“After 50 years of almost daily migraine attacks I found out by accident that drinking a Starbucks Frappuccino could knock out my migraine immediately.

“Once I got a migraine during a wild thunder and lightning storm. It was a somewhat remote area with no Starbucks nearby. I went to a McDonalds and had a chocolate milkshake. Voila! Same help.

“It’s the brain freeze that is ‘the checker’ there for me. Ice water will not do it. The viscosity is, I believe, necessary.”

DBB discovered brain freeze on his own:

“I’ve used the ‘brain freeze’ method of treating headaches for many decades. I stumbled upon it while I was in college and had a really massive hangover. I stopped at a 7-Eleven for a Slurpee, and I took way too big a mouthful. I tried to swallow it quickly, as it was too cold for my mouth, and next came the dreaded brain freeze. I was waiting for the brain freeze to wear off, but I discovered that my bad headache had abated greatly.

“I’ve used this technique on migraines with pretty good results. I find that if I catch a migraine early, then a brain freeze works very well. The longer I let the migraine go on, though, the less effective the brain freeze is.”

Brain Freeze won’t work for everyone. One woman raised this concern.

“Nearly two years ago, I tried the brain freeze treatment after having what I thought was a pre-migraine aura. Immediately after eating part of a frozen popsicle, I lost the ability to find words or form a sentence. This lasted for some minutes.

“My spouse and I started off to an ER, fearing a possible stroke. By the time we got there, I could speak fine. I was kept overnight and given many expensive tests, all with negative results, thankfully. Did I have a TIA? Or can brain freeze simulate a TIA? Perhaps caution is advisable in using this remedy.”

Learn more about the latest migraine relief medicines by listening to our interview with a headache specialist from the Cleveland Clinic:

Show 1055: What Are the Best Treatments for Headaches?

Share your own headache story in the comment section below.

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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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Tension headaches, cluster headaches and migraines all call for different approaches to prevention and treatment. What should you know?

Show 1055: What Are the Best Treatments for Headaches?
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As a follow-up to my earlier comment: I tried inducing brain freeze with my most recent headache, and it was excruciating! Will stick with pouring cold water on the head.

I have migrains occasionally. I have found that a ice cold Coors Light Beer will give instant relief.

I think that curing migraines is the wrong approach. The focus should be on prevention. If you temporarily cure the headache, and continue eating, and doing the same thing, without knowing the cause, you are developing a cycle of headaches. I have discovered my triggers, and if I stick to the plan I do not have migraines.
Contact me at hadbad@att.net and I will share my results with you. Henry Dyson

I have known for about a year that if I put my head under the cold water tap and let the water run over my head a couple of minutes and thoroughly wet my hair, it will stop an early migraine. (We have well water, so it is always very cold.) If the headache starts coming back, I just repeat. This is fine when I’m at home. I’m glad to hear about the brain freeze trick. I’ll try it next time I feel a migraine coming while I’m away from home.

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