Medically reviewed by Emily Maurer, NP on September 1, 2020
For people suffering from migraines, coffee is a double-edged sword: you may need it to get through your day, but drinking it can bring on a headache just when you need it the least. The relationship between coffee and migraines is a complicated one, but there are plenty of alternatives out there for you to test out.
Caffeine and Migraines
Those who regularly experience migraines probably have a very unique relationship with caffeinated beverages. Regular coffee drinkers will know firsthand that skipping your morning cup can bring on a headache as quickly as anything, and research supports this. But for as much harm as caffeine withdrawal can cause, too much caffeine can do just the same: quickly consuming more than what you’re used to is a common migraine trigger.
Despite all of this, caffeine still plays an important role in treating migraines as well: not only is it an active ingredient in a number of common headache medications, it can make pain relievers up to 40% more effective when used alongside them. While it’s clear that regular usage or consumption of over 200mg of caffeine per day is bad news for those who suffer from migraines, it’s difficult to make any conclusions beyond that.
More research is needed to get to the bottom of the relationship between migraines and caffeine, so in the meantime all you can do is listen to your body. If it’s clear that continuing to drink coffee isn’t going work for you, here are a few alternatives you can turn to in the meantime:
If you’re ready to switch off of coffee but not quite ready to give up caffeine entirely, tea can be a good middle ground. In general, green and black tea contain lower levels of caffeine than standard drip coffee, and many tea drinkers find that it can have helpful relaxing effects not found in other caffeinated drinks.
Tea can also be a good transition out of caffeine for those hoping to eventually quit entirely. Going cold turkey might bring on some seriously debilitating headaches, so gradually switching over to tea before phasing it out completely can be a good way to avoid those nasty side effects.
Caffeine may be the energy booster of choice for most people, but there are plenty of other natural ways to stay alert throughout the day — one of the most effective of which is regular, moderate-intensity exercise.
Early morning exercise can help promote high levels of energy throughout the day, while a quick workout during lunch wards off the dreaded PM slump. Be careful not to go too hard, though, as overexertion during exercise is a common migraine trigger in many.
Another great way to up your energy naturally is through your diet, namely fresh fruits. Plenty of different fruits have energy-boosting qualities to them, and making them a regular part of your diet is a great way to keep your sugar intake stable in a healthy way.
- More sleep
What may be the simplest solution is also one of the hardest for many adults: getting sufficient amounts of rest can reduce or outright eliminate your need for caffeine in the first place. While sleeping more is always easier said than done, it’s a great way to attack the cause of any caffeine dependency you may be trying to dump.
Coffee or no coffee, it can be difficult to try and tackle your migraine head on. If you’re looking for a migraine treatment that works for you, get in contact with one of our providers here at Nurx who can help you plan out a path forward.