Home > Medication > Do Headache Remedies Make False Claims?

Do Headache Remedies Make False Claims?

By: Kathryn Senior PhD - Updated: 4 Dec 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Headache Remedies Headache Treatment

People who get headaches regularly may try all sorts of natural headache remedies but most resort to painkilling drugs at some time. Although these drugs are commonplace, like all drugs they have the potential to be harmful. Some have minor side effects such as causing an upset stomach, others cause more problems in certain people. Because not everyone responds in the same way to the same drug, it is generally a good idea to have a choice of painkillers on the market.

Pharmaceutical companies are trying to develop better and more effective painkillers all the time. This is a very competitive market and a great deal of money is at stake, so do they sometimes stretch the truth when they make claims about their new painkiller?

Rivals Sometimes Object

There is not definitive answer but some manufacturers have challenged the claims of others in recent years and have had their objections upheld by the regulatory authorities. In early 2009, the pharmaceutical company, Wyeth, put forward a complaint about a product being marketed by their rival company Novartis.

Novartis was claiming that a new ‘extra strength’ version of a painkiller known as Excedrin, which contains paracetamol (known as acetaminophen in the USA), aspirin and caffeine, could relieve headaches within quarter of an hour.

Source of the Complaint

The complaint centred on an Internet advert on the Novartis site that showed a woman at a cafe table in obvious pain from a bad headache. She took the extra strength painkiller and was smiling again as the digital clock shown in the foreground came up to the 15 minute countdown point. Novartis have backed up their decision to make the advert, saying that they don’t say she is 100% pain free after 15 minutes – just feeling a lot better. They also offer trial evidence showing that a significant number of people taking their painkiller felt better within 15 minutes.

Of course, not everyone has the same type of headache and some people may not feel better in such a short time – but it is quite difficult to say definitely that the information about the painkiller is misleading. It certainly does help headaches, and in some people would help them feel better quickly.

What About Natural Headache Remedies?

It is not only pharmaceutical products and painkillers that can promote their products by claims that could be questioned. Many herbal remedies and alternative therapies are recommended as good remedies for all types of headache, but there is rarely any stringent scientific evidence to back up these claims. The fact that a lot of people swear by different herb teas, reflexology or whatever may suggest that these natural remedies could help, but they can’t provide hard evidence that they definitely work in other people.

Some small scale clinical trials have been done for alternative therapies such as acupuncture and while some seem to show an effect, others do not. Sham acupuncture, in which the needles are placed randomly rather than at the particular points that acupuncture practice suggests, often produces a very similar level of improvement.

Personal Choice

If you suffer from headaches, discovering the root cause is probably the best way to deal with the problem in the long term. Do you need glasses? Eye strain headaches will keep coming back no matter what kind of pain relief you use. Is it something in the food that you eat? Avoiding triggers, particularly for migraine, can lower the frequency of attacks and then you don’t need painkillers. If you still suffer from headaches and can’t find out why, symptom management is the only thing you can do and the best advice seems to be – find something that works for you and then stick with it. Just make sure that with pharmaceutical preparations that you follow the guidelines carefully.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopfully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Mumof3
    Re: Headache With Pins and Needles: Is This Serious?
    I have pins and needles beneath my feet, it has been there for three days now- and hasn't gone away.…
    25 March 2017
  • Ms. Haider
    Re: Headaches and Eyesight
    I wear soft contact lenses in the day time and take them out only when I'm ready to sleep. Even then if the contacts are out and I close…
    12 March 2017
  • Stassie
    Re: Migraine Classification
    My daughter has been diagnosed with migraine as she has most of the symptoms, so her neurologist said it was a classic one; He prescribed…
    10 March 2017
  • Alexandra
    Re: Headaches After Head Injuries
    I had hit ny head on a table and got a headache and it was getting worse so i went home, in the car i had passes out and my mom…
    10 March 2017
  • Alleycat
    Re: Headaches During The Night
    I have started walking with a headache about an hour after falling asleep.This happens at night or if I am sleeping during the day.…
    10 March 2017
  • Jad
    Re: Headaches and Iron Deficiency
    For the last year I've been getting shooting pains up and down the left side of my head which was diagnosed as trigeminal…
    8 March 2017
  • Stassie
    Re: Headaches Caused by Tensions and Stress
    Hi, My daughter, 16, has been diagnosed with having tension headaches, (via CAT scan and MRI) when she was 11. Since…
    7 March 2017
  • DUNK
    Re: Scalp Pain: What Causes It?
    I have suffered severe eye, scalp, jaw pain for 5 years. The pain has been so bad I have thought about suicide more than once. The…
    6 March 2017
  • "common-cold antenna
    Re: Scalp Pain: What Causes It?
    I've had this pain on my scalp in approximately the same area for a long time ( about 26yrs ). It happens just before I get a bout…
    26 February 2017
  • Julie
    Re: What is the Headache Impact Test?
    I wake up with severe headaches in the middle of the night. What do i do to stop it
    12 February 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the HeadacheExpert website. Please read our Disclaimer.