Orange sorbet stops ongoing migraine


Q: I have suffered from migraines for years and years with little help from medication. Last week I was at the pharmacy picking up a prescription when I developed one of the typical precursors to my migraines.

After getting my meds at the pharmacy counter, I stopped at the ice cream counter on the way out. I took a scoop of orange sorbet, hoping it might help somehow.

Well, wouldn’t you know, within 10 minutes of 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 which is a migraine warning. This time I was ready!

I hopped to the kitchen, where I stocked up on orange sherbet, and literally snuffed out my headache with a few cold scoops. It’s a good treat!

A: Eleven years ago, we first heard from a reader suffering from weather-related migraines: “After taking painkillers all day with no relief, why eating spoonfuls of chocolate peanut butter ice cream alleviates pain immediately?

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

To learn more about these remedies, you may want to read our eGuide on “Headaches and Migraines”. This online resource is available under the Health eGuides tab on

Q: After catching a head cold while traveling, my doctor told me to take echinacea the day before boarding, the day on the plane, and the day after. I’ve followed this advice for years and haven’t caught a cold on a plane since.

A: We are told that the air filtration systems in airplanes are very good. That said, traveling can be stressful. You also come into contact with many people who can spread viruses.

Echinacea is a popular herbal treatment that has antiviral activity. It can also help boost 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 doctor and pharmacist to avoid dangerous combinations.

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

I have told friends about it who used it on the foot or on the 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 may be beneficial for arthritis pain. The famous 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, October 27, 2000).

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