Did you know that Coca-Cola started life as a headache remedy? Surprised? Most people associate caffeine with causing headaches when they stop drinking coffee – and that is true. But it can also treat headaches.
I’m confused already. How can it do both?
Let’s start at the beginning. Caffeine is actually a stimulant drug that works on the central nervous system. The World Heath Organization considers caffeine to be safe and says that it has no resemblance to addictive drugs that can wreak havoc in peoples’ lives. People call it ‘addictive’ because it can cause symptoms if you stop drinking it. Used properly, it can make you more alert, less tired and it can even help with muscle co-ordination.
Caffeine to be found in every-day medication
If you ever read the small print on boxes of over-the-counter headache remedies and prescription medications, you will see that caffeine is a common ingredient. Caffeine added to some painkillers can make them 40% more efficient in getting rid of headaches – which is a huge effect.
It can also get your headache under control more quickly as it helps the medication to be absorbed into the body faster. These benefits mean that less of the medication need to be taken – which lowers the chance of side effects and even potential drug addiction.
Migraine coming on? Have a coffee.
Many migraine sufferers have discovered that they can keep a migraine at bay by having a coke or a cup of coffee, at the first sign of one. This works because much of migraine pain is caused by enlarged blood vessels pressing on the nerves surrounding them. One of the actions of caffeine is to constrict blood vessels. The effects of caffeine can be felt within half an hour and can last for between three and five hours.
This all sounds great! So whats bad about caffeine?
Caffeine is a stimulant so it can be a great pick-me-up but it can also drop you back down again – especially if you take your coffee with sugar. Coffee can avert a migraine - but one of the worst things that a migraine sufferer can do is to drink large amounts of sugary coffee on an empty stomach. It can send your blood sugar levels soaring and that in itself can bring on a headache. It helps to combine it with food, drink decaf or cut down the sugar.
Caffeine is also a diuretic. Research has found that migraine sufferers benefit from increasing their magnesium levels, but caffeine may be getting rid of it as fast as you’re putting it in.
The dangers of hidden caffeine
People often have difficulty sleeping when they’ve drunk too much coffee. But what if you haven’t over-indulged? Don’t forget that caffeine can also be found in tea, chocolate and other soft drinks – and don’t forget those painkillers. It can all add up.
I want to give up caffeine but won’t I get a withdrawal headache?
A person has to intake at least 15 grams of caffeine each month in order to suffer from a caffeine withdrawal headache. So if you drink 4-6 cups of coffee a day, you could get the headache. The average daily consumption of caffeine in America is 200-300mg – that’s 2-3 cups. So if you fall into this category you should be ok.
The best method of cutting caffeine out all together is a gradual reduction over a period of time.
So caffeine is good and bad for my headaches…
Yes, it is. You really have to find what works for you. People react differently to different amounts too. The only way to find out is to experiment.
For more helpful information on caffeine headaches visit http://Headache.HealthHows.com a resource rich site on all types of head aches, with tips and ideas for their treatment.