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Can ice cream help you beat migraine?

Foods to avoid for your dinner. © Shutterstock

Brain freeze could help reduce migraine.

Written by Sandhya Raghavan |Published : January 24, 2018 8:46 PM IST

When you have a bad headache, the last thing on your mind is food. Yet every time I get a throbbing migraine attack, I make a beeline towards my freezer and have a big bowl of ice cream. Somehow, inexplicably, this unorthodox trick for numbing migraine works as a charm. And I'm not alone. Many people on the internet claim to use ice cream to cure their migraine episodes. There are few theories to why it probably works.

Migraine-acidity link

In many cases (as is mine), migraine is triggered due to acidity or acid build up in the stomach. That's probably why people get relief from migraine after purging or vomiting. And ice cream is an old tried-and-tested remedy for acidity. So having ice cream can help neutralise acidity, which in turn can relieve the migraine.

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Brain freeze

Brain freeze is a term used to describe the intense headache you feel when you have something cold like a milkshake or an ice cream. Strangely, many migraineurs claim to feel relief from the pain after experinencing a brain freeze. Ironically, it seems as if the brain freeze helps cure the migraine. In a study, 13 adults were asked to sip ice water through a straw held against their upper palate till they felt the brain freeze. From the experiment, the researchers surmised that the cold ice water helped in constricting arterial cerebral artery, restricting the blood flow to the brain and lessening the migraine pain.

Is it worth trying?

Unless you are lactose intolerant or on a strict diet, there is no reason why you shouldn't try it out. There are no known side effects. But so far, there are no studies that give us a clear picture about its workings because migraine as a phenomenon is also poorly understood.

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