Does Hyped Headache Remedy 'Head On' Work?

ByABC News via via logo

Dec. 2, 2006 — -- The ads for the headache remedy Head On are almost impossible to avoid, and some think the repetitive commercials might give viewers a headache.

But can the product itself relieve the pain?

According to Dr. Richard Lipton, director of the headache center at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York, the much-hyped product may not work at all.

"I've seen a number of patients who've used Head On," he said. "Some people say that it's very beneficial to them. Other people actually say that it makes their pain worse. I've looked for scientific evidence that shows that it works, and I haven't been able to find any studies."

Head On comes in tube form like ChapStick. Users are supposed to rub the product on their head to relieve a headache. The company says it works homeopathically -- meaning minute amounts of ingredients that could cause a headache encourage the body to stop the pain.

The manufacturer told ABC News that the proof is in Head On's sales. In less than a year, more than six million tubes have been sold at about $8 a pop.

Still, there's no scientific proof it works, and that's prompted complaints.

"Good Morning America" asked some headache sufferers to put head on to a decidedly un-scientific test.

"It's an icy hot feeling that you can, like, feel it being drawn out," said Sandy Heinze. "I thought it worked really well."

But other sufferers weren't convinced.

"I didn't think it worked at all," one said.

Deirdre Newman had never tried Head On but is willing to try anything safe to relieve her migraines. She enjoyed the cool feeling of the product and said she would use it if she didn't have any other form of relief on hand.

According to Lipton, Head On's cooling sensation is perfectly safe. He says the only danger the product poses is to consumers' wallets.

"I would not recommend it unless there was scientific evidence that it worked," he said. "But it's unlikely to cause harm. … If you want to try it, good luck. I hope it works for you."

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