Does Caffeine Help Headaches?
Caffeine can be both a headache trigger and a headache cure depending on several factors.
There have been several research studies that show caffeine can help with headache pain. And with pain in general.
That’s why there is caffeine hidden in some of the best-selling over-the-counter pain medicines like Excedrin MigraineTM, AnacinTM, MidolTM, Darvon CompoundTM, FioricetTM, and MigranalTM.
For me, it tends to be a combination of caffeine, over-the-counter pain medicines AND sugar that work best. Not just for headaches or migraines but also when I fell and injured myself walking the dog. It sounds crazy now, but I actually broke 19 bones when the dog tripped me and I landed on concrete. And instead of consuming the Oxy laden drugs they gave me, I used caffeine and sugar to get through the day. I still took the prescription drugs at night to sleep, but not having to take them during the day is what I credit for not getting hooked on Oxy.
Large Amounts Of Caffeine And Pain
Did caffeine and sugar really stop all that pain? No, not completely. But it was enough so I could cope. I didn’t feel great. Okay, I felt terrible. But again, I could cope.
Why Does Coffee Give Me A Headache While It Helps With Other Pain?
And while caffeine and sugar helped me with pain, I’m not talking about a little cup of coffee helping. I was consuming a lot of caffeine. And anyone that tries to use caffeine as a pain aide is going to deal with the side-effects of too much caffeine: sleeplessness, anxiety, irritability, moodiness, overstimulation and headaches. And if you take it too far it could lead to serious health consequences so I don’t advocate it as a solution but I can certainly testify that caffeine does help as a pain aide.
The medical research has also shown that beyond just helping with headaches, caffeine has also shown potential when treating the pain of cancer.
It seems to work as a delivery agent for other chemicals. With the research seeming to point to caffeine as enhancing other drugs effectiveness (even with powerful drugs like morphine).
Is it any wonder that the OTC headache companies like ExcedrinTM jumped on that concept?
Take a look at: Does Caffeine Stunt your Growth?
What Is a Caffeine Headache?
Anyone wanting to use caffeine for headaches, or pain in general, needs to be aware that it will have a cumulative effect. That your coffee, sugar, caffeine aspirin or other sources, WILL add up. It will make you more prone to anxiety, irritability, and insomnia. And when you consume more caffeine than you can metabolize it WILL trigger caffeine dependence which will mean the caffeine won’t work as well and you may find yourself consuming more trying to get the results you started with.
Something is buried in the fine print about caffeine and pain. All the studies that talk about how coffee helps with diseases and caffeine can help with pain. But what people ignore is how much caffeine you can consume. They will all say the subjects of the studies were low to moderate consumers of caffeine before the study. But that is often overlooked when hyping up the benefits of coffee or caffeine.
If you start off as a heavy user it’s hard to see caffeine benefits because you have built up a resistance due to consuming more than you need. To get the benefits you expect, you’ll need to dial back use to that low to moderate threshold for caffeine to work well.
But when you try to dial back caffeine use, the caffeine will try to stop you by triggering caffeine withdrawal headaches when you stop.
Caffeine Headache Area
And caffeine withdrawal can feel brutal. Caffeine withdrawal (officially described as caffeine dependence) is characterized with headaches, brain fog, exhaustion, irritability and can even present as flu-like symptoms that can cause people to miss work!
Ironically caffeine headaches occur when you drink too much caffeine, or not enough. So using caffeine to fight pain is not always a function of how much more you should take.
If you are consuming too much, you will need to cut back slowly and consistently over at least a two-week period to give your body time to adjust to a new caffeine normal.
Take a look at: Major Causes and Treatments of Sharp Headaches
How Much Caffeine Will Stop A Headache?
But if you are trying to cut back on caffeine the worst thing you can do is go “cold turkey”. It does not take much caffeine to avoid caffeine withdrawal. As little as 20mg of caffeine should keep the average personal comfortable while reducing. But here is where it gets tricky. If you drink 20mg of caffeine you might have to wait up to 50 minutes for your body to digest and metabolize that caffeine. That 50 mintues can seem like a long time if you are already suffering from a caffeine withdrawal headache! So getting caffeine faster, without digestion, is the best way to go.
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