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Brain freeze explanation may help migraine sufferers

Scientists say the discovery may help in developing new treatments for migraine headaches, which plague about 20 percent of the population.

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Brain freeze headache explanation may help people with migraines say researchers. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Researchers find the cause for the infamous brain freeze, also known as an 'ice cream headache.'  

Scientists say the discovery may help in developing new treatments for migraine headaches, which plague about 20 percent of the population.

According to a study at Harvard Medical School, scientists found that so called 'brain freeze' headaches are caused by a rush of blood into the anterior cerebral artery while the brain struggles to stay warm after a blast of cold.

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The ache stopped once blood flow was restricted, said the Telegraph.

"The brain is one of the relatively important organs in the body, and it needs to be working all the time," said researcher Jorge Serrador, of Harvard Medical School," according to Live Science.

"It's fairly sensitive to temperature, so vasodilation [the widening of the blood vessels] might be moving warm blood inside tissue to make sure the brain stays warm."

The study saw researchers induce brain freeze on 13 volunteers sucking ice water through a straw that shot water to the roof of their mouths.

The volunteers were told to raise their hands at its onset and when it went away.

Looking at blood flow alterations like those that occured during brain freezes could help in studying migraines, researchers said, reported Medical News Today.

Learning how to control the brain's blood flow may help offer new treatments for this debilitating problem.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/health/120423/brain-freeze-explanation-may-help-migraine-sufferers