Patient Blogs | Migraine
Managing My Migraine Episodes With ASMR
photo of woman with migraine

Have you ever heard of ASMR? If you've never heard of it, don't worry. In basic terms, it's a tingly feeling that no one can explain. And let me tell you, while it's not a replacement for medication, it works wonders for my migraine pain therapy

What Is ASMR? 

Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a tingling feeling on your scalp and brain that slowly moves down your neck and spine. ASMR causes pleasurable and relaxing triggers, and in some cases, it has provided relief to migraine warriors. 

No Judgment Zone

I want to underscore the no-judgment zone before I proceed. While I find blogging therapeutic, there's a level of vulnerability involved when you share intimate details of your life. Thank you for keeping it respectful.

My Go-to ASMR

My absolute favorite go-to form of ASMR for migraine is tingly, light-touch foot tracing, and foot scratching on my soles. It is something I have favored since I was a child. It puts me in a trance-like state of tingle-filled euphoria. 

Some people like light stroke back tickles and arm tickles. I remember being a part of a “tickle train” when I was in school. We would take turns trading back and arm tickles during class movies. My babysitters even used back tickles to calm me down for nap time.  

I also favor "no talking" ASMR videos. Sometimes, I even watch ASMR videos on mute. I get tingles from watching sole-tickling videos, but I understand some people only get a soothing feeling. There are times that I like soft-spoken ASMR videos, but I prefer listening to those with my eyes closed. 

All ASMRtists Are Not Equal

Some popular triggers include gentle voices, hair brushing, tapping, and crinkling. But to get the sound “just right,” you'll need to listen to an ASMRtist who invests in a freestanding binaural microphone. Why? Because they’re the gold standard and replicate human hearing.

I've also heard it helps if you listen with headphones, not speakers. ASMR sounds are generally meant to be soft and soothing, for example, whispering and soft speaking. Therefore, most people find it relaxing to listen with headphones at normal listening levels. 

ASMR = Placebo Effect? 

While I find ASMR very calming, everyone is different. For context, I’ve heard of a few instances where ASMR has triggered someone's migraine. Unfortunately, there's no scientific data to support the effects of ASMR. You will, however, find several online support communities. And it always helps to know you’re not alone. For people who think ASMR is all placebo effect, I say, “Hey, if it helps manage pain, I'm all for it!” If you're wondering what I mean by a placebo effect, a friend, Steven D., shared this perfect explanation: 

"The placebo effect means something is actually occurring in your mind which affects your body. So if something is triggering your mind to heal itself, that's not fake; there's real brain chemistry going on." 

Sharing migraine warrior treatments and stories are so important. We are better together. What is your experience with ASMR and migraine therapy? Do these autonomic sensory meridian responses relieve your pain? Which triggers work for you?

Tap into a community of fellow migraineurs on Facebook. Learn, share, connect in our Migraine Support Community.



Photo Credit: vitapix / E+ via Getty Images

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Naki Carter

Naki Carter

Diagnosed since 2001

For nearly 20 years, Naki Carter has been living with migraine. Formerly an award-winning journalist, she is committed to ending the stigma around the invisible illness. Carter lives in South Florida near lots of family and friends, where she enjoys a daily dose of “vitamin sea.” Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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