Can putting your feet in hot water cure migraines? A doctor shares their verdict
'With reasonable expectations, it would be worth a go.'
If you’re a migraine sufferer, you’re willing to try pretty much anything to get rid of those agonising headaches.
From ear piercings to drinking salt water – if there’s a hack, you’ll try it.
And, while TikTok isn’t exactly famed for it’s top notch medical advice, a migraine ‘cure’ has been doing the rounds – and apparently, it actually works.
Andrea Ember uploaded a video sharing the advice, which has now been viewed 21.5million times. In it, she said: ‘I just learned that if you get a migraine and you want to get rid of it fast… all you got to do is get as hot water as you can handle, and soak your feet in the water.
‘When I tell you four minutes ago my eyes were shaking and I couldn’t see straight, and I was already trying to look for the bed so I could lay down and close the blinds.’
Andrea, who said she is a regular migraine sufferer, said the hack ‘changed her life’ – and others have agreed. Her video has been stitched by other creators, claiming that the game-changing trick worked for them too.
It’s worth pointing out here that you need to be careful dunking your feet into hot water – Andrea’s video shows her pouring water straight out of the kettle, which isn’t advisable.
And if you’re going from very chilly feet to very cold, it could leave you in some discomfort too.
But, for many, this hack to really work. So, what’s the science behind it?
Dr Ellie Canon, a GP who has worked in medicine for over 20 years, says that migraines are hard to ‘cure’ because we don’t quite know why we get them.
She explained: ‘There are understandably lots of myths around migraine because people are desperate for answers as it’s so distressing.
‘No one really knows what causes migraines. The Migraine Trust says that scientists and doctors think it’s due to abnormal brain activity affecting nerve signals, chemicals and blood vessels in the brain.’
Blood vessels during a migraine may narrow or widen, and as Dr Ellie says: ‘There is some science behind the idea of the swelling of blood vessels both causing or improving migraines.’
Heat causes blood vessels to swell, so this trick is based on the idea that the hot water will dilate blood vessels in your feet, pulling blood away from from your head, easing the pressure on the blood vessels in the brain.
‘The idea of widening blood vessels elsewhere may provide comforting pain relief,’ says Dr Ellie. ‘It’s unlikely to prove the magic panacea, but if a patient thought to try it – with reasonable expectations – it would be worth a go.’
For an alternative solution, Dr Ellie has her own go-to. She says: ‘I suggest soluble aspirin, dissolved in a sugary drink.’
Sadly, for some migraine sufferers on TikTok, dunking their feet in hot water hasn’t worked.
‘I’ve had migraines almost every day for almost seven years,’ said one creator, Vanessa, as she puts her feet into a hot bath. ‘So far, cannot confirm this works.’
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