If you have migraines, put down your coffee and read this


Throughout medical college, a neurologist taught me that the primary explanation for complications within the US was espresso.

That was information to me! But it surely made extra sense when he clarified that he meant lack of espresso. His level was that for individuals who commonly drink espresso, lacking an early morning cup, and even simply having your first cup later than normal, can set off a caffeine withdrawal headache. And contemplating what number of each day espresso drinkers there are (an estimated 158 million within the US alone), it’s possible that espresso withdrawal is among the many commonest causes of complications.

Later in my neurology rotation, I discovered that caffeine is a significant ingredient in lots of headache treatments, from over-the-counter medicines resembling Excedrin and Anacin, to highly effective prescription remedies resembling Fioricet. The caffeine is meant to make the opposite medication in these mixture treatments (resembling acetaminophen or ibuprofen) work higher; and, after all, it is likely to be fairly efficient for caffeine-withdrawal complications.

However then I discovered that for individuals with migraine complications, sure medication, meals, and drinks ought to be averted, as they’ll set off migraines. On the high of this checklist? Espresso.

So, to assessment: the caffeine in espresso, tea, and different meals or drinks will help stop a headache, deal with a headache, and likewise set off a headache. How can this be?

Migraine complications: Nonetheless mysterious in spite of everything these years

Migraine complications are fairly frequent: greater than a billion individuals reportedly endure from migraines worldwide. But, the trigger has lengthy been a thriller — and it nonetheless is.

Till not too long ago, the going idea was that blood vessels across the mind go into spasm, quickly constricting and limiting blood movement. Then, when the blood vessels open up, the push of incoming blood movement results in the precise headache.

That idea has fallen out of favor. Now, the pondering is that migraines are as a consequence of waves {of electrical} exercise spreading throughout the outer parts of the mind, resulting in irritation and overreactive nerve cells that ship inappropriate ache alerts. Why this begins within the first place is unknown.

Migraines are inclined to run in households, so genetic elements are possible essential. As well as, chemical messengers inside the mind, resembling serotonin, may play a central position within the improvement of migraines, although the mechanisms stay unsure.

Folks susceptible to migraines could expertise extra complications after espresso consumption (maybe by results on serotonin or mind electrical exercise), however espresso itself, or the caffeine it incorporates, is just not thought of the precise trigger of migraines. Sure meals or drinks like espresso are thought to set off episodes of migraine, however the true trigger is just not recognized.

A brand new examine about espresso and migraines: how a lot is an excessive amount of?

In a brand new examine revealed within the American Journal of Drugs, researchers (together with a number of from the hospital the place I work) requested 98 individuals with migraines to maintain a weight-reduction plan diary that included how usually they consumed caffeinated drinks (together with espresso, tea, carbonated drinks, and power drinks). This data was in contrast with how usually they’d migraines. Right here’s what they discovered:

  • The percentages of getting a migraine elevated for these consuming three or extra caffeinated drinks per day, however not for these consuming one to 2 servings per day; the impact lasted via the day after caffeine consumption.
  • It appeared to take much less caffeine to set off a headache in those that didn’t normally have a lot of it. Only one or two servings elevated the chance of migraine in those that normally had lower than one serving per day.
  • The hyperlink between caffeine consumption and migraine held up even after accounting for different related elements resembling alcohol consumption, sleep, and bodily exercise.

Curiously, the hyperlink was noticed no matter whether or not the examine topic believed that caffeine triggered their complications.

One weak point of this examine is that the researchers didn’t truly measure caffeine consumption. As an alternative, they outlined one serving of a caffeinated beverage as 8 ounces of normal espresso, 6 ounces of tea, a 12-ounce can of caffeinated soda, or 2 ounces of an power drink. However caffeine content material in numerous caffeinated drinks can range broadly. For instance, an 8-ounce serving of espresso from Starbucks can have twice the caffeine as a similar-sized serving from a Keurig Ok-Cup. In addition they didn’t embody caffeine-containing meals within the examine, though such quantities are usually fairly small in contrast with the drinks studied.

The underside line

There’s a lot in regards to the connection between caffeine consumption and migraine complications that continues to be unsure. Till we all know extra, it appears clever to hearken to your physique: when you discover extra complications once you drink extra espresso (or different caffeinated drinks), in the reduction of. Luckily, this newest analysis didn’t conclude that individuals with migraines ought to swear off espresso totally.

In case you like espresso as a lot as I do, it could appear unfair that it is advisable to maintain consuming it to stop a headache. And when you’re susceptible to migraines, it might sound unfair that you must restrict your espresso consumption to keep away from complications. Both manner, you’d be proper.

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