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It has been suggested that placing an ice cube on your neck where your head and neck are connected (the Feng Fu point) once a day has several health benefits123.

Supposedly the reason for this is that placing an ice cube in this location causes endorphins to be released.

Primary Question:

Is there any evidence that placing an ice cube on your neck can cause endorphins to be released?

  • 1
    This seems to be too broad: can you limit the number of claims? – Sklivvz Jun 8 '15 at 23:27
  • @Sklivvz I've edited to what interests me most about the claim which is hopefully narrow enough. An argument could be made for the other benefits if it is shown endorphins are released... however I still find many of them doubtful. Maybe a follow up question if this one is answered could be in order. – FGreg Jun 9 '15 at 0:51
  • Endorphin = happiness hormone. Are you asking if there are people who find it pleasurable to have an ice cube put on their neck? – John Dvorak May 17 '16 at 18:55
  • @JanDvorak I suppose that's one way of looking at it. However, the claim seems to be that doing this causes endorphins to be released; regardless of personal preference for ice cubes and where to put them. – FGreg May 17 '16 at 21:53
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YOU BET! But, first let me say not all headaches are created equal. A headache can simply be the result of stress that causes muscular tension the neck or as a result of inflamed sinuses from strong smells or a head cold. At the far extreme, a headache may be a sign of an life threatening intracranial hemorrhage. Ice or cold packs won't be of much help in these. I will restrict my answer to only migraines and even then migraines vary in terms of cause and treatment and as a medical worker I will advise you to have a neurologist eval just to be sure your chronic migraine isn't a brain tumor. Hopefully your doctor has cleared you of all but migraines, so, will ice or cold packs help and if so how well and by what mechanism. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1142731-overview#showall

A 2013 randomized, controlled, crossover clinical trial evaluated freezable ice packs applied to carotid arteries at the neck. Maximum pain reduction was observed at the 30 minute time point with a 31.8% ± 15.2% decrease in pain in the treatment arm compared to a 31.5% ± 20.0% increase in pain at the same time interval in the control arm. These findings confirm the application of a frozen neck wrap at onset of migraine headache targeting the carotid arteries at the neck significantly reduced recorded pain in participants with migraine headaches (P<.001) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3727573/

Cryotherapy or cold may be so effective that the popular People's Pharmacy site even recommends eating ice cream or chugging cold drinks to alleviate migraines. https://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2015/04/06/see-how-brain-freeze-can-stop-a-migraine-headache-in-its-tracks/

And Scientific American states the mechanism may go beyond simple vasoconstriction of carotid and basilar arteries. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/brain-freeze-might-help-solve-migraine-mysteries/

There have been clinical studies testing cryotherapy devices for the treatment of migraines: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01898455 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1697736/

But, this is something you can do without a corporate sponsor. My suggestion is to apply an ice pack at the nap of your neck (back of neck) not to your forehead. I find the if the therapy is going to work, you will achieve significant pain relief in just 5 minutes.

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    the question was not whether ice anywhere on the head and neck can help a migraine in progress, but whether ice in a particular place, several times a day every day, regardless of symptoms, can offer "health benefits" which presumably don't include immediate relief from a migraine. – Kate Gregory Feb 6 '17 at 17:16
  • the question was 'Does placing an ice cube on your neck provide health benefits?' As a migraine sufferer, I consider pain relief a health benefit. :) I merely gave research to validate my opinion. The pathophysiology of pain relief goes beyond simple endorphin release or vasoconstriction. New research suggests it may affect cytokine and inflammatory protein release but the research is still ongoing. – Richard Stanzak Feb 6 '17 at 17:30
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    No, the title was that. The question specifies daily application to the feng fu point with an ice cube, regardless of medical symptoms. This response does not answer the question. – Nij Feb 7 '17 at 6:52
  • This answer would be better if it showed a link to endorphin release (I suspect it can be responsible for the pain killing effect?) – Sklivvz Feb 7 '17 at 11:04
  • Inflammatory cytokines are the major inducers: Common symptoms of throbbing aggravated by activities that increase intracranial pressure such as coughing or bending. These effects are mediated by bradykinin, histamine, serotonic, prostaglandin E2 and a number of cytokines, specifically, a cytokine called IL-1b increases COX-2, which causes the trigeminal nerve, which mediates pain, to release CGRP ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3690498 selfhacked.com/2013/08/12/… – Richard Stanzak Feb 7 '17 at 12:55

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