June 25, 2024

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Orange sherbet arrests migraine in progress

3 min read

Q: I’ve been experiencing migraines for years and years, with little help from medications. Last week, I was at the drugstore to pick up a prescription when I developed one of the typical precursors to my migraines.

After receiving my meds at the pharmacy counter, I stopped at the ice cream counter on the way out. I got a scoop of orange sherbet, hoping that it might somehow help.

Well, wouldn’t you know, within 10 minutes of having my cold dessert, my headache was almost gone. Today, sitting at my desk at home, I started to feel the tension on my head and neck that’s a migraine warning. This time, I was prepared!

I skipped to the kitchen, where I have stocked up on orange sherbet, and literally doused my headache out with a couple of cold scoops. It’s a nice treat!

A: Eleven years ago, we first heard from a reader with weather-related migraine headaches: “After popping pain pills all day with no relief, why does eating spoonfuls of chocolate peanut butter ice cream take the pain right away?”

Since then, we have heard from many others that inducing “brain freeze” (sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia) can often interrupt a migraine attack. Researchers have discovered that TRP (transient receptor potential) channels on the nerves are involved in the development of migraine pain (Neuroscience Letters, Jan. 18, 2022). TRP channels are important for sensing temperature. Apparently, activating them with cold early in the process leading to a migraine may help to reverse it for some people.

To learn more about such remedies, you may wish to read our eGuide to “Headaches & Migraines.” This online resource is offered under the Health eGuides tab at PeoplesPharmacy.com.

Q: After I caught a head cold while traveling, my doctor told me to take echinacea the day before getting on a plane, the day on the plane and for one day afterward. I’ve followed this advice for years and never caught a cold on an airplane since.

A: We are told that air filtration systems on airplanes are very good. That said, traveling can be stressful. You also come in contact with lots of people who might be shedding viruses.

Echinacea is a popular herbal treatment that has antiviral activity. It may also help stimulate the immune system to help fight off cold or flu infections. There is a potential risk of interactions with prescription medications, such as amiodarone, carbamazepine, felodipine, methotrexate and sildenafil. Always check with a physician and pharmacist to avoid dangerous combinations.

Q: A friend told us about topical castor oil for pain relief. My husband thought he’d need a knee replacement soon, but once he started applying castor oil daily, his joint is oiled up and ready to use.

I have told friends, who used it on their foot or wrist. When my arthritis is acting up, I use it on my hip. It’s really helpful.

A: Readers of this column have been telling us for years that topical application of castor oil could be beneficial against arthritis pain. The famed Christian mystic Edgar Cayce promoted the use of castor oil “packs.” He used it for fungal infections, inflammation and wound healing. The active ingredient, ricinoleic acid, has been shown to have some anti-inflammatory activity in animal research (European Journal of Pharmacology, Oct. 27, 2000).

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