Capsaicin Spray for Migraines

Capsaicin is the active ingredient in chili peppers that produces heat and pain. Research suggests that spraying capsaicin in your nose may relieve migraines and cluster headaches…

Capsaicin Spray for Migraines

Capsaicin is the active ingredient in chili peppers that produces heat and pain.

Spraying capsaicin in your nose may relieve migraines and cluster headaches.

Six Reason Why Capsaicin May Relieve Migraines. 


1.  Migraine Capsaicin Study

In a small study completed in 2003, researchers applied capsaicin to each nostril of migraine sufferers once a day for seven days.

All patients reported a migraine improvement of 50 to 80 percent. The results lasted for at least 23 days (study).


2.  Cluster Headaches

A study from 1994 found that five days of capsaicin administered to cluster headache patients cut the average number of cluster headaches down by 50 percent.

In addition, half the patients had no further attacks for the entire period of observation. The effects lasted from 20 to 40 days (study).

Cluster headaches are triggered by the same facial nerve that is also known to trigger migraines (study).

Cluster headaches are known for producing “possibly the worst pain the human body can experience,” according to multiple neurologists.


3.  Capsaicin Brings Sinus Relief

A study from 1988 first found that capsaicin applied into the nose resulted in a burning sensation and a runny nose. However, after four or five applications (4–5 days), patients no longer had a sinus response (pain, sneezing, runny nose).

Researchers believe that the pain neurotransmitters had been depleted, resulting in 30 to 40 days of complete sinus relief (study).

Sinus pressure is a huge migraine trigger. Ninety percent of sinus headaches are actually misdiagnosed migraines (study).


4.  Capsaicin Numbs a Migraine Receptor

Capsaicin numbs a receptor that produces calcitonin-gene related peptide (CGRP) (study 12).

CGRP is a migraine trigger and a next-generation migraine drug is in development to block CGRP (full article).

Capsaicin’s ability to stop the release of CGRP may stop migraines naturally.


5.  Trigeminal Neuralgia

The trigeminal nerve (facial nerve) plays a key role in triggering migraines by releasing CGRP (full article).

CGRP is released as a response to migraine triggers such as inflammation or oxidative stress. Trigeminal neuralgia is inflammation of the trigeminal nerve.

There have been reports of complete or partial trigeminal neuralgia relief from topical capsaicin (study 12).

Capsaicin may have a similar effect as Botox for migraine relief.


6.  Why Numb Inside the Nose?

The sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) is an area of the trigeminal nerve in the nose that can be numbed to reduce migraine frequency.

A procedure called “SPG blocks” uses lidocaine to numb the inside of the nose. Migraine severity drops in half and 88 percent of patients require less or no medication after SPG blocks (study).

A new method for numbing the SPG uses specialized medical equipment to cool the nerve. A small study found that 45 percent of migraine patients experienced full pain relief and another 45 percent of patients experienced partial pain relief (study).

In addition, nasal medications can be more effective than oral drugs because capsaicin can quickly bypass the gut and take immediate action (study).


Other Uses

Numerous studies have shown that capsaicin cream or patches can be safely used to manage pain.

Capsaicin works by numbing the nerves that send pain signals and by reducing hypersensitivity (study).

The trigeminal nerve (facial nerve) and occipital nerve (neck nerve) are often inflamed in migraine sufferers (study).

It is possible that numbing these nerves in the face and neck with multiple applications of capsaicin could reduce migraines in a similar fashion to the popular Botox treatment for migraine sufferers.

How to Spray Capsaicin:

The research shows that it takes four to seven days of applying capsaicin in your nose to see results.

You will know when capsaicin has successfully desensitized the nerve because the spray will no longer produce pain or snot.

The capsaicin should help for 20 to 40 days. The best time to use capsaicin is a week before expected migraines (menstrual migraines, weather changes, flying, stressful activities, etc.).

What to Spray?

Use a nasal spray with capsaicin as the active ingredient. Wasabi, mustard oil, and horseradish, also have the same effect as capsaicin (study).

There are a number of capsaicin sprays on Amazon, but look for one without added chemicals.

Sinus Plumber has a capsaicin spray that also comes with horseradish. You can purchase it on Amazon. This can be used to numb the trigeminal nerve and keep your sinuses clear.

The directions say that you can spray it up to three times per day. However, it’s unknown how many times it will take to get the same results as the study.

Sinus Plumber also makes a headache nasal spray for migraines and cluster headaches. This is used for immediate relief from migraines.  Ingredients include capsaicin, feverfew, peppermint, and caffeine for rapid absorption. I would avoid using this spray as preventative because it contains caffeine, but it may help to quickly stop migraine pain.

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Author: Jeremy Orozco

Jeremy Orozco is a firefighter turned migraine expert and author of The 3-Day Headache “Cure”. You can find Jeremy here at MigraineKey.com and on Facebook. (See Jeremy’s full bio.)



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