ASMR as Migraine Relief
Last updated: August 2023
Filed under “I thought I was crazy,” was ASMR. When I was a child, in the age before the internet (yep), I had no idea ASMR was “a thing.” All I knew was that, sometimes, I felt a pleasant skull tingle and I could connect it to watching someone draw or sometimes from someone speaking softly. If it was really powerful, it would move down my neck and into my upper back. If I really trusted someone, I’d get it when a friend would braid my hair, or during a massage.
Was I the only one experiencing this sensation?
When I grew up, my sister mentioned off hand that she got, “scalp orgasms,” which, of course, gave me pause. I asked her to explain. She had the sensation, too. It was still hard to explain to someone who didn’t know that sometimes, but not always, my head felt nice and no one was touching it.
Cue the internet. The rule of the internet is that, if you can imagine it, it exists online. So, even if I was making up my “skull tingles,” they must exist. Sure enough, I found ASMR, autonomous sensory meridian response, a very real, actual “thing.”
How does ASMR connect to migraine?
Well, you won’t find any actual research on the internet, but ASMR and migraine do seem to be connected for many people. ASMR has only officially been in the human lexicon since 2007, so it makes sense that there hasn’t been any peer-reviewed studies, but the world of YouTube and whatnot has found a way to put together ASMR migraine-soothing videos. There is a bunch of anecdotal evidence that people find ASMR-inducing sensory input soothing to their migraines.
Does ASMR work for my attacks?
I agree, but with a twist. I have noticed that I am more susceptible to ASMR when I’m in a slightly “migrainey” state. If I’m in misery, eyes closed, ice cap on, trying not to puke, no, I’m not looking for skull tingles. But, if I’ve medicated but am still feeling a bit woozy or if I’m starting to enter a possible postdrome, I’ve noticed I’m more likely to be able to feel ASMR from simple things like scrolling photos on my phone, flipping through a book, or having someone stroke my back.
ASMR helps me feel better, perhaps because the sensation itself serves as some kind of analgesic. Perhaps the ASMR is distracting me from the migraine symptoms. Maybe it’s a placebo effect, and, if so, who cares if it works.
Does ASMR soothe your migraine?
I’m very curious to hear if other people who get migraines also experience ASMR and, if so, if it helps. I’d love someone to do an actual study of the phenomenon more. I don’t know why some people actually feel the sensation, some people merely like these videos, and some people think it’s completely bogus because they can’t imagine it.
I suspect the prevalence of people connecting migraines and ASMR means there is some sort of sensitivity that makes people who are susceptible to migraines also sensitive enough that they are more able to feel ASMR, but, without actual data, we can only go off each other’s stories.
Have others downplayed your migraine pain?