TMJ Therapy and Sleep Center of Colorado · Dr. Kevin Berry | 1660 S Albion Street, Suite 1008 | Denver, CO 80222

Smells That Cause (and Cure) Migraines

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There are many different types of migraine triggers, and it’s important for you to be aware of which ones are most likely to trigger yours. An important one to consider is smells. From 20-70% of migraine sufferers experience headaches caused by smells, and are sometimes said to be the second most common migraine trigger.

However, there is also a potential for smells to have a curative effect on migraines.

Odors as Migraine Triggers

As with other migraine triggers, it’s hard to pin down the exact mechanism by which odors trigger migraines. However, it’s not that hard to figure out which odors trigger migraines. A study that showed 70% of migraine sufferers had odor triggers also tracked down some of the most common odors for triggering migraines:

  • Perfumes (triggered headaches in 76% of those sensitive to odors)
  • Paint (42%)
  • Gasoline (29%)
  • Bleach (27%)

Other studies have identified different odors that result in migraines, including:

  • Cooking smells like onion or fatty, fried food (could be related to glutamate)
  • Cigarette smell
  • Car exhaust

Not everyone experiences odors as a regular trigger, meaning that the same odor consistently results in a migraine headache.

In rare cases, people may experience odors as part of their aura. Sometimes this even takes the place of a visual aura. Most often, the imagined smells are of burning or burnt substances.

Can Odors Cure Migraines?

However, the nose news isn’t all bad when it comes to migraines. A recent study suggests that some people may actually be able to use smells to cure their migraines. A group of 50 migraine sufferers were given a pen-like inhaler with a green apple scent. Green apple was used because previous research indicated it had a positive effect on stress.

They found that for the 35 participants who didn’t like the green apple scent, the odor had no effect. However, for the 15 participants who did, smelling the odor led to significant reductions in their migraine severity. This is very preliminary research, but it does indicate that for some people at least, positive smells may be a way to reduce migraine pain.

TMJ treatment, though, is a more reliable way to not only reduce migraine pain, but it can reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks. If you would like to learn whether this can help your migraines, please call (303) 691-0267 for an appointment with a Denver TMJ dentist at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado.

We Look Forward to Seeing You!

TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado
- Dr. Kevin Berry
1660 S Albion Street #1008
Denver, CO 80222

(303) 691-0307

Monday - Wednesday: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Thursday: 8:00 am - 1:00 pm