When we’re enjoying your favorite cold treat and suddenly struck with that unique type of intense cold in your head, we’re quick to say we’ve got a brain freeze. Freezing our brains doesn’t sound good; but it’s actually a complex phenomenon which may even have benefits!
What exactly is a “brain freeze”? It’s a sensation produced by nerves in the palate of the mouth (specifically the sphenopalatine ganglion) which sends the message to the brain to feel a headache when cold activates those nerve bundles. This ganglion of nerves is connected with headaches that occur without cold, like migraines and cluster headaches.
The fun thing about brain freezes is that there’s been so much research about to the sphenopalatine ganglion to utilize its connection to headaches. In fact, there’s even devices which can either block that nerve bundle with numbing, or to stimulate it to keep headaches and migraines away. Some people can derail a migraine by giving themselves brain freeze!
For those of you who want to avoid brain freezes, you can avoid it by eating cold foods and drink slower and keeping colder food near the front of the mouth since the nerve bundle is further back. When it does happen, a quick way to stop it is to push your tongue against the roof of your mouth to deliver warmth to those nerves.