Ways to stop a migraine

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY

May 13, 2001|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,Special to the Sun; King Features Syndicate

Q. Have you ever heard of sipping beer to stop a migraine? I went to a doctor in a little town in Louisiana, and he asked if I get an aura. Before my head starts to hurt, my vision changes, and I see little blinky lights.

The doctor said I should drink a can of beer (not wine or liquor) as soon as I start to see the lights. Over the past 20 years, this remedy has worked almost every time. I thought some other migraine sufferers would like to know.

A. Migraine headaches can be horrible, but one advantage of an aura is that it gives the sufferer a bit of warning before the headache strikes with full force. Others who suffer from migraines have told us that sipping hot, spicy soup during that time also can stop a migraine.

Some researchers speculate that migraines are caused by constriction and then sudden expansion (dilation) of blood vessels in the brain. The neurochemical serotonin might be partially responsible for this chain of events.

Perhaps beer alters serotonin levels, or the alcohol might dilate blood vessels in the brain, counteracting constriction. For some victims, however, alcohol can trigger migraine, so people need to be cautious about this remedy.

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