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Why Does Caffeine Cause Migraines

How Much Caffeine Do You Consume Daily

Why Purity Coffee Does Not Cause Caffeine Headaches or Heartburn

A recent study suggested limiting that intake to 2 servings of a caffeinated beverage per day. Anything over seems to be the tipping point for triggering a Migraine attack.


If you are a regular coffee or tea drinker and wake up with headaches each morning , caffeine could be the problem. Regular intake above the level your body can handle is one way that an episodic migraine can become chronic. The following anecdotes from my client files show how insidious caffeine can be.

In her Headache Diary, my client Barbara reported drinking two cups of black tea per day, which seemed fine upon first glance. But when she wasnt migraine-free after implementing most of the Mundo Program, we started mining more deeply for clues. Only then did she sheepishly admit that she used three tea bags to brew each cup.

We already knew that she took two Excedrin almost daily, in total making her caffeine intake the equivalent of five to six cups of coffee per day. No wonder Barbara would wake up in the morning with full-blown migraines! Her honest revelation was the breakthrough that she needed in order to progress.

Dear Jan,

Since your seminar, little by little, Ive been getting off Excedrin and am now in my third week without it. I feel like my headache cycle is broken. Its exciting! Not only that, but the irritable bowel syndrome that had bothered me for so long is gone.

Thank you,


What Causes Migraine Attacks

People living with migraine typically deal with recurrent, pulsating headaches that can be severe.

These headaches can last anywhere from a few hours to almost 3 days and sometimes include symptoms like sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, and vomiting.

While researchers are still trying to get to the bottom of why migraine attacks happen, they can be caused by a variety of known triggers, including:

Medications used to treat migraine also sometimes cause more attacks if theyre used more than 10 days out of the month.

Can A Single Cup Of Coffee Fix Headache

A single cup of coffee with moderate caffeine quantity can help in relieving the pain from headaches.

The answer to this is relative since the caffeine content in different varieties of coffee differs owing to differences in the serving size.

Lets have a look at the caffeine content of some popular coffee varieties:

Type of Coffee
702-928 mg

The relation between caffeine and headache is quite debatable since it can both trigger and cure pain.

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. Due to its vasoconstriction properties, it can constrict vessels and reduces blood flow to the brain, and thus help in headache or migraine pain. It may also help in headaches by increasing the effectiveness of pain relief medication used by the consumer.

However, since the science isnt yet clear, there are no specific recommended quantities that can ease your pain.

American Migraine Foundation suggests that depending on how much of the stimulant youre consuming the caffeine in your coffee will help you with headaches.

If you suffer from headaches once in a while, then a coffee within 100-200 milligrams of caffeine at best may help you in reducing the pain. For people suffering from daily headaches, coffee should be completely cut from the diet.

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How Do You Get Rid Of A Coffee Headache

Headache is one of the most common body conditions that people experience in their daily life. Whether its due to overwork, lack of sleep, or too much ingestion of caffeine, headache may result in a dull and pressing mood.

If your headache is caused due to coffee consumption then the first thing you should do is stop drinking it.Many alternatives in the market can satisfy your caffeine boost. Moreover, you can also have decaffeinated coffee to get a similar energy fix.

To get rid of such headaches, some of the best tips are:

  • Staying hydrated
  • Applying ice pack
  • Avoiding other caffeinated foods and beverages

You can have some ice cream as well to uplift your mood. Most importantly, try to take proper amount of rest and eat a nutritious meal. Moderate consumption of coffee rarely affects you but if you have a headache even after curbing coffee, seek medical help from experts for a better recommendation.

How Many Caffeinated Drinks Does It Take To Trigger Migraine

How Does Coffee Stop Nausea

What triggers migraine headaches? Scientists studying caffeine consumption estimate that drinking three or more caffeinated beverages increases the odds of experiencing a migraine headache on the same day.

According to the , headache disorders are some of the most common to affect the nervous system.

Migraine is a form of primary headache disorder.

The term primary refers to the fact that the underlying causes are unclear.

In the United States, 12% of the population experience migraine. This includes adults and children.

The majority of migraineurs say that they are aware of at least one trigger that can bring on their symptoms. Triggers include weather patterns, sleep, stress, hormones, drugs, exercise, and diet.

When it comes to caffeine, the amount a person drinks may be the central factor in whether or not it is a trigger. According to the American Migraine Foundation, some people find it helpful to use a small amount of caffeine to stop some of their migraine headaches. Others may have more frequent migraine headaches with regular caffeine consumption.

Although there is anecdotal evidence of caffeines potential Jekyll-and-Hyde nature, clinical data from migraineurs is rare.

A new study paper, which now appears in The American Journal of Medicine, sheds some light on this conundrum.

Elizabeth Mostofsky, from the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, is the first author of the study.

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To Drink Coffee Or Not To Drink Coffee

Quitting coffee cold turkey isnât necessarily the answer since caffeine affects everyone differently, but having a few alternatives can certainly help you avoid dependency or suffer from a rebound headache. Use a migraine tracking app or journal to carefully monitor your caffeine intake and find the right levels for youâso you can live your best, headache-free life.

The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely upon the content provided in this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

Can Coffeecaffeinealso Relieve Your Migraine

Interestingly enough, there is also evidence that caffeine helps relieve headaches. Of course, migraines arent your typical headache, so traditional forms of relief might not always work.

As mentioned earlier, there is caffeine in most over-the-counter painkillers. This is based on research indicating that caffeine can relieve headaches. There are a number of reviews and studies showing that moderate caffeine intake can boost the efficacy of painkillers, as well as offer relief to both tension and migraine headaches.

A 2017 review published in;The Journal of Headache and Pain;found that, depending on dosing and individual factors, caffeine may help prevent or treat migraine headaches.

Caffeine may offer pain relief by acting as a vasoconstrictormaking blood vessels smaller. Before and during headaches, blood vessels get bigger to allow more blood flow to the region, and that can result in pain and inflammation.

Limiting blood flow to the region may be just one way that caffeine helps prevent and relieve headaches. Once again, this would be dose- and time-dependent. Drinking a coffee to treat a nighttime headache, for example, is probably not a good idea: it will keep you up and likely lead to discomfort the following day .;

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Breaking Down The Data

A sample of 98 adults with frequent episodic migraines completed electronic diaries each morning and evening every day for six weeks. The total servings of caffeinated coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks consumed were recorded each day, along with twice daily headache reports documenting the onset, duration, intensity and medications used for each migraine since the previous diary entry. Other common migraine triggers that each participant normally experiences was recorded as well.

A self-matched analysis was used to evaluate the linkbetween caffeinated drinks and migraines on the same or following day.Researchers compared each participants occurrence of migraines on days withand without caffeine intake, eliminating the chance of factors such as age,sex, and other behavioral and environmental factors to intrude with data. Thisstrategy also accommodated for various caffeine dosages and serving sizesconsumed by participants.

The end result? For regular caffeine consumers, one to two servings thats 8 oz. of coffee, 6 oz. of tea, 12 oz. of soda, or 2 oz. of energy drink had no effect on migraines on the same or following day. Headaches were more often onset by three or more servings of caffeinated drinks for regular consumers, and one to two servings for those who rarely consume caffeine.

Withdrawal Headache Or Something Else

Migraine Headaches and Caffeine Migraine Headache Relief Dr.Berg

People often describe caffeine withdrawal headaches as a widespread, throbbing head pain. The International Headache Society defines a caffeine withdrawal headache as a headache that:

  • develops within 24 hours after last consuming caffeine in people who consume at least 200 milligrams per day of caffeine for more than 2 weeks
  • goes away after 7 consecutive days of not consuming caffeine
  • improves within 1 hour of consuming 100 mg of caffeine

Doctors may also diagnose someone with a caffeine withdrawal headache if their symptoms do not match those of other types of headache.

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So Can Caffeine Really Cause A Migraine

The short answer? Yes.

Let us explain: While studies have found no proof that drinking caffeine will automatically trigger a migraine, Dr. Crystal warns that the stimulant is still one to be wary of.

âCaffeine withdrawal is a known trigger for migraine and other headache types, and caffeine itself may trigger migraines,â Dr. Crystal says.

Migraine triggers are unique for everyone, but studies show that when it comes to caffeine, the amount consumed may have more weight in whether or not you develop a headache. Research from the American Journal of Medicine shows that three or more servings of caffeinated beverages a day is associated with developing a migraine in individuals who experience episodic migraines.

Can Too Much Caffeine Cause Headaches

Too much caffeine is not what causes headaches, but the increased tolerance to caffeine aids in triggering headaches in an individual.

When coffee is consumed regularly, the body builds a sense of dependency on the beverage. This is why your body increases its caffeine tolerance. The caffeine then narrows the blood vessels surrounding the brain and whenever the consumption stopped, the vessel gets enlarged again.

As a result, an abrupt increase in blood flow and the pressure surrounding the brain nerves trigger the caffeine withdrawal symptoms of headaches.

Moreover, people who are hypersensitive tend to consume larger doses of caffeine to get the desired boost. Such a high dose of caffeine also triggers unwanted headaches after the caffeine quantity falls in the bloodstream.

Simply put, as your body gets dependent on the caffeine content over time, your brain craves more and more of the stimulant. As soon as the consumption is thus stopped, you get the unwanted sensation of tickling in your head, causing a headache.

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Caffeine Headache As A Withdrawal Symptom

On the flipside, if youve ever tried to cut back on caffeine, you know that headaches can occur as a result. And it doesnt matter what foods or drinks the caffeine comes from the issue is whether you have a regular habit of consuming about the same amount of caffeine every day. If you suddenly get a lot less caffeine, you’ll likely have a headache.

Caffeine withdrawal isnt just something that happens to people who drink a lot of coffee or caffeinated beverages; it can happen to people to drink as little as one small cup of coffee per day, according to StatPearls.

The incidence of headache as a result of caffeine withdrawal can be as high as 50 percent and thats in the general population, not just in people who have migraine.

Can Caffeine Trigger Migraine Attacks

Does Drinking Coffee Cause Headaches

While a little bit of caffeine may help ease a migraine episode, too much may have the opposite effect.

An example of this is the medication overuse headache, which is what can happen when you take more headache medication than you should during the course of a month.

Another factor is caffeine withdrawal. While the occasional cup of coffee here and there is most likely fine , your brain will likely develop a dependency on it if you drink it regularly.

When that regularity isnt maintained maybe you take a day off from coffee or get into a situation where you cant drink your usual amount withdrawal symptoms can occur.

One of these withdrawal symptoms might be a headache, which can turn into a migraine attack.

Additionally, studies have shown that ingesting too much caffeine is a risk factor for chronic migraine, which is a headache that can last for multiple days every month.

When it comes to the mechanisms of how too much caffeine actually triggers migraine attacks, researchers think there are two main ways an overabundance can create negative physiological effects:

  • Caffeine has an adverse effect on the bodys ability to absorb magnesium, which is a beneficial nutrient for chronic pain conditions like migraine.
  • Coffee acts like a diuretic in high doses, which means it may lead to dehydration. Dehydration is a known migraine trigger .
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    Stimulate Your Pressure Points

    Various points around your body correlate to your health. These are called pressure points, or acupoints.

    Pressing on certain pressure points may help relieve headaches, in part by easing muscle tension. Researchers in a 2010 study found that one month of acupressure treatment relieved chronic headaches better than muscle relaxants.

    You can try acupressure at home. One point thats tied to headaches is located between the base of your thumb and your index finger. When you have a headache, try firmly pressing on this point for five minutes. Make sure you repeat the technique on the opposite hand.

    Some people find that taking a nap or hitting the hay early can help relieve headache pain.

    In a small 2009 study, 81 percent of participants with persistent tension headaches cited sleep as the most effective way to find relief. The relationship between sleep and migraine relief has also been noted.

    That said, sleep has a peculiar connection to headaches. For some people, sleep is a headache trigger, and for others, its an effective treatment. You know your body best.

    If other measures arent providing relief, you may consider giving in to your caffeine craving. Although this is a surefire way to soothe your symptoms, doing so will contribute to your dependence.

    The only way to break this cycle is to cut back on or give up caffeine entirely.

    Caffeine withdrawal symptoms may start within 24 hours of your last intake. If you quit cold turkey, symptoms may last up to a week.

    Understanding Rebound Related Symptoms

    While caffeine is not directly responsible for migraines, sudden withdrawal of it can cause a rebound effect, with which most of us are familiar. The NHF recommends those with frequent headaches avoid daily use. For myself, I would avoid having multiple lattes or cups of coffee per day, but I seem to do fine with my usual intake of two 12 oz Cherry Cokes. So like everything, moderation is probably the best bet. If you have any questions about whether caffeine is hurting you, or could help you, ask your physician.

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    Why Not Just Treat Your Headaches With Coffee

    Unfortunately, caffeine’s effects on the brain can vary tremendously depending upon how often you use it. With occasional use, it may provide modest acute headache relief, as well as its characteristic satisfying sense of alertness and well-being. However, with daily or near daily caffeine exposure, the brain may develop a tolerance for, and dependency upon, the drug. This means, a given dose becomes less potent following repetitive exposure, and the brain develops an expectation that another dose of caffeine will be coming soon. If that caffeine expectation is unmet, a withdrawal syndrome may result, which includes headache itself as a prominent symptom, along with fatigue, trouble concentrating, nausea, and other symptoms suggestive of migraine. An example of this withdrawal syndrome may be the “weekend migraine” pattern where individuals experience attacks on Saturdays or Sundays associated with sleeping later than usual and delaying their morning cup of coffee.

    In daily caffeine users, caffeine has less of an effect on brain activation and blood vessel constriction, and caffeine withdrawal is associated with a significant increase in brain blood flow associated with blood vessel dilation. These chronic effects of caffeine are likely a result of changes in the numbers and types of adenosine receptors expressed on brain cells as well as changes in their functions. These changes may contribute to the development of caffeine tolerance and dependency.

    The Downside Of Caffeine

    Quick Tip: Is Caffeine Good or Bad for Migraine Sufferers?

    Yes, caffeine helps many people during a migraine attack. However, studies show that up to 1 in 3 people find caffeine actually triggers migraine symptoms. These same studies suggest that some people with migraine should avoid caffeine completely. Others should consume no more than 200 mg a day. Some people are more sensitive and their bodies react with a headache or migraine with as little as 10 mg of caffeine a day.1,4

    What seems to be the difference in how people respond to caffeine? People who consume caffeine daily or near-daily may develop a tolerance for the drug. This means that it takes more caffeine to get the same effect. Then the body comes to expect caffeine and revolts if it does not get it. This may trigger head pain, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and nausea.1

    Doctors believe a ârebound headacheâ is caused when the blood vessels open up without caffeine to keep the vessels narrow. Also, long-term caffeine use may change how adenosine acts in the brain.1

    This is why some doctors recommend that people with severe or chronic migraines avoid caffeine completely. This includes caffeine found in food, drink, and medicine. However, anyone who is consuming caffeine regularly and in higher amounts should not stop cold turkey. It is important to slowly decrease caffeine consumed to avoid a migraine or rebound headache.1

    It is important to talk with your doctor about how much caffeine you consume as you work to manage your migraines.

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