Does caffeine help with migraines?
Absolutely! There have been several research studies that show caffeine can help with migraine pain.
Actually, caffeine helps with pain in general. That’s why there is caffeine hidden in several over-the-counter pain medicines like Excedrin Migraine TM, AnacinTM, MidolTM, Darvon CompoundTM, FioricetTM, and MigranalTM.
Personally, I’ve found large quantities of caffeine, over-the-counter pain medicines AND sugar helped me. Not just with my migraines but when I fell and broke several bones. I used caffeine and sugar instead of the Oxy drugs that were given to me. I credit that with not getting hooked on Oxy since there were prescribing really large quantities of drugs to me after that accident.
Did I feel pain? Oh yeah. Lots of it. But with caffeine, sugar, and regular over-the-counter pain killers I was “okay”. Not great. But it kept me taking the oxy only at night so I could get a little sleep.
But here is the kicker to this story. 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 if you take it too far it could lead to serious health consequences so I don’t advocate it as a solution.
For me, you would have trouble telling the difference between too much caffeine and the implications of 17 broken bones (yeah, it was a REALLY bad fall). I had people who saw me during that time say I was “a mess” and I doubt they were just talking about the broken arm and leg. I was a mess. Mentally. Physically. Emotionally. I cried in the doctor’s office 2 months after the accident because he said, “you have to be more patient; you are just not going to heal as fast at your age.” I was able to make a joke of it later, but the reality was, I was not in a good place. Was it because of the pain from my injury or the anxiety from too much caffeine? We’ll never know. But I suspect they were both to blame.
And at least I only walked away hooked on caffeine and sugar and not Oxy, but still, it wasn’t good.
Anyone wanting to use caffeine for migraines, 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.
In the end, yes, It will be easier to kick the caffeine habit than an Oxy dependence but it still won’t be fun and you should try to keep the brakes on overconsuming caffeine as much as possible. I primarily reccomend trying to keep the caffeine under control so it works when you need it and lets you easily walk away when you’re done. When you do that, if you do use it for periodic migraines you will find it to be much more effective.
The thing that is burried in the fine print of all the studies that talk about how coffee helps with diseases and caffeine can help with pain, is how much you can consume. They will all say the subjects of the studies were low to moderate consumers of caffeine before the study.
If you start off as a heavy user its hard to see caffeine benfits 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.
Looking to cut back caffeine so it works well again? Check out CAFFEINEcontrol.