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MDLinxTikTok Users Say Hot Foot Baths Relieve Migraine Pain. But Does It Actually Work?

Studies suggest that hydrotherapy could be effective in alleviating the frequency and intensity of headaches, but this has not been proven.

In the realm of health and wellness, social media platforms like TikTok have become a hotbed for sharing unconventional remedies. One such trend that has gained traction is the use of hot foot baths to alleviate migraine pain. This practice, while seemingly simple, has sparked a debate among healthcare professionals and patients alike about its efficacy and the science behind it.

Key Points

  • The trend involves submerging one’s feet in hot water, as hot as can be comfortably tolerated.
  • Users on TikTok claim that this method provides relief from migraine symptoms within minutes or after about half an hour.
  • Some users suggest adding ingredients like ginger or mustard to the water for enhanced effects.
  • The science behind this trend could be linked to the autonomic nervous system (ANS), specifically the sympathetic nervous system.
  • The ANS controls basic, involuntary functions in the body such as heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, body temperature, and digestion.

“Although, to an extent, blood vessels do dilate in response to heat, warming up your feet would not draw blood away from the brain in any meaningful way. Soaking your feet is more of a distraction from the headache than something that directly impacts the brain or the process of migraine.”
— Thomas Berk, MD, FAHS, Medical Director of Neura Health and a neurologist and headache specialist in New York City

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