New Drug-free Device for Migraine Tested

A unique new device used to fight migraine is being tested, with promising results. The device is based on a common technique used for diagnosing certain brain problems; a technique which is increasingly being investigated for its therapeutic value.

The technique, known for this purpose as caloric vestibular stimulation (CVS), is also used as a test known as the caloric reflex test. This is used to test the vestibular system, using warm and cool air or water in the ear canal.

Caloric Vestibular Stimulation Device

A Caloric Vestibular Stimulation Device


It has been discovered that this test can actually provide some relief from certain conditions, particularly post-stroke conditions. Stroke is, of course, related to migraine, and often manifests similar symptoms. Could a CSV device actually decrease “migraine days”?

In this clinical trial, the answer was “yes”.

This trial was for patients with episodic migraine, averaging about seven or eight “migraine days” per month. Patients used the device themselves for 20 minutes per day over 3 months.

The device has aluminum earpieces inside padded headphones, which are controlled using a hand-held device. The earpieces deliver warm and cool currents to the ear canal.

Those using the actual CVS devices (there was a placebo group as well) experienced a significant drop in migraine days – 3.8 days per month. That’s almost down to half the migraine days per month. Patients also reported using less medication.

The researchers concluded:

The results from this randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial demonstrate that CVS treatment with a novel solid-state device significantly reduces the number of migraine days per month as well as the subjective headache pain scores and the need for migraine abortive prescription medications. Treatment can be administered in the home-setting with no technical expertise and modest training. Subjects demonstrated high rates of treatment adherence and also reported subjectively positive experiences with using the device. Together, these results indicate that CVS therapy addresses the existing need for new prophylactic therapies for episodic migraine. This approach appears to be both efficacious and very well tolerated, and further clinical testing is warranted. A second, expanded study is now underway. [source]

That second study is now recruiting participants (if you’re in the US or UK, you may be able to be a part of the study).

Study abstract: Preventing Episodic Migraine With Caloric Vestibular Stimulation: A Randomized Controlled Trial

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