Poison Relieves Migraine Pain

The key to getting rid of a migraine may lie in taking injections of a deadly substance.

Using botulinum toxin, the same substance that causes food poisoning, to relieve a migraine headache may sound like an unlikely treatment. But, for the twenty-five million Americans who suffer from migraines headaches, it may be just the relief they need, reports CBS News Correspondent John Roberts.

Researchers at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City are conducting a study to find out if Botulinum toxin, called Botox, can prevent migraines. Injections of the substance may prevent migraines by paralyzing facial muscles.

Barbara Androski remembers the first migraine she got at age 35. She says she still gets as many as eight migraines a month.

"You get very nauseous, the lights bother you, smells bother you...the pounding of your head is like no other headache," she said.

The substance has been used since the mid-eighties to treat severe muscle spasms and more recently, cosmetically to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. While it's not a painkiller, people treated with botox, who also had migraines, noticed their headaches got better.

Kathy Albany, a migraine sufferer, got botox injections for jaw grinding bad enough to break teeth.

"When I was injected with the botox for the grinding, it helped with the migraines tremendously," says Albany. "The frequency was cut in half and the intensity was cut in half."
It appears to be sweet poison for those who need relief, reports Roberts.

In early studies migraines disappeared in one third of patients for three to four months. Another third saw their headaches dramatically reduced.