Asked by E Littera
How Would A Benedryl Shot Help A 16+ Hour Migraine?
Hello E Littera,
That's actually a really good question - so good that even our Migraine specialists aren't completely sure how it is helpful to some patients. To add to the curiosity, it seems that taken orally, Benadryl doesn't seem to be helpful for Migraine.
Did you know, most of the medicines we use for Migraine were never intended to be used for attacks in the first place? We use them off-label because their sort of happy side effects are helpful to Migraine patients. Benadryl is one of those medicines.
There are lots of theories why Benadryl or diphenhydramine might be helpful for Migraine, and because Migraine is a multi-factorial disease, many are probably correct for certain people.
For example, some doctors might tell you that the Benadryl acts on the way the brain is functioning, slowing impulses that may be implicated in the neurologic aspect of Migraine. Some doctors suspect that because it is an anti-histamine, and histamine can sometimes play a part in Migraine (as well as its resolution) that diphenhydramine may be helping that way. Maybe it is helping the inflammatory processes implicated in especially long Migraines. Allergies and inflammation are both parts of our immune system. Others suspect it may help simply by making the patient able to sleep so the brain re-sets and the Migraine is resolved. I'm sure with time, there will be other possibilities theorized as well. Only future research will tell the eventual story.
Another anti-histamine called Periactin or cyproheptadine is also sometimes useful in Migraine, is used off-label, and is most often prescribed for kids.
I think the most important point here, is that it is the injectable version of diphenhydramine that is helpful for most patients in which it is useful. Sometimes non-Migraine specialists don't understand that, will see the results you've gotten with an injection, and mistakenly prescribe the oral version. This can be a mistake, leaving the patient confused and under-treated.
If this treatment was helpful for you, congratulations on finding something to end such a long attack.