A friend of mine sent me this article and asked me if I would stick a hot pepper up my nose if it meant headache relief. I know I've tried some wacky stuff trying to get rid of my migraines, but I don't know if I could do this. I'm not a big fan of hot sauce and one time I tried to use capsaicin in my bird feeder to keep a determined squirrel away from the sunflower seeds, and the squirrel only ended up liking them more. Knowing my luck, Chuck The Migraine Squirrel would dig the hot spicy stuff and it would only make my migraines worse.
The Claim: Cayenne Peppers Can Cure Headaches
By ANAHAD O’CONNOR
Published: October 30, 2007 in The New York Times
Times Health Guide: HeadachePeople who suffer from chronic headaches have been known to try all sorts of pills and home remedies. But cayenne peppers?
Behind the folk wisdom is capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne. It is said to bring relief by depleting Substance P, a neurotransmitter that helps transmit pain impulses. Sounds unlikely, but a number of studies have tested the claim, and most have found evidence to support it.
One prominent study was published in 1998 in The Clinical Journal of Pain by researchers in the department of anesthesia and critical care at the University of Chicago. In it, the researchers analyzed data from 33 prior studies and found that capsaicin seemed to work better than placebos for headaches occurring in clusters.
But simply eating hot sauce isn’t going to help. Most studies suggest that capsaicin works just when applied topically. A study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital recruited sufferers of chronic headaches and randomly split them. One group had small amounts of diluted capsaicin applied inside the nose for a week. The other received placebo. The study found “a significant decrease in headache severity in the capsaicin group,” but not the placebo group. Other studies, including one this year, published similar results.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Studies have found that capsaicin may help relieve headaches.