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Caffeine is good for migraines?

I had a consultation with my neurologist today and, among many other interesting things, she said that (1) caffeine is good for migraines, (2) some migraine medicines in the US contain caffeine and (3) if you feel a migraine coming on, sometimes a strong coffee can stop it.

I have been off coffee since March (was never a big coffee drinker, so not a problem) and off tea since April. I have been missing my green tea in the morning, so her advice to drink caffeine makes me happy.

However, I am keen to know what you think. Is starting to drink caffeine again a good idea?

  1. That statement is incredibly general and patently false for me personally. Could be good for some with occasional migraines, could be bad for others with chronic migraines. Generally quite a bad idea for people with tinnitus and dizziness…
  2. Yes, Excedrin can work for the occasional migraine (i’ve never used it). However every Neurologist I’ve come across warns about rebound migraines and not to overuse it.
  3. Could be true depending on the person for occasional migraines, but again you need to be careful about rebound and becoming dependent on it.

Anyways, the only way you’ll know is to start introducing it again. I can only drink decaf, I’ve tested it many times… caffeine is my biggest trigger.


Very unorthodox of your physician:

Let us know how you get on


I agree with others that this sounds really unusual. Caffeine was the first thing I eliminated as it was always the most obvious trigger. If nothing else, it definitely increased anxiety which increased dizziness. I tried over the years to reintroduce it one cup at a time but found I’m just better off not having it at all. Would also be interested to hear how you get on going back on it! I would definitely start sloooow


Only way is to try it and see …. I suppose.

My understanding is that the caffeine is included in certain medications, thinking mostly of painkillers. because it makes the drugs enter the system quicker. So maybe not because it’s ‘good for migraine’.

I’ve come across many people saying if they feel a headache coming on caffeine in the form of coffee would stop it. However most associate coffee with causing migraines. Generally it’s the first thing people are told to drop. That said I’ve never been advised by any medic anywhere to make any dietary alterations at all. And yes In fact the migraine specialist neurologist specifically told me not to. She said to eat as you usually do, diets were unnecessary. Every specialist has their own opinion no doubt.


Some people find caffeine to be an effective migraine abortive because it constricts the blood vessels in your brain–like a triptan–and thus stops the vasodilation that produces an attack. However, if overused or consumed daily, it can lead to rebound. This is why people often get headaches when they quit drinking caffeine cold turkey–the normally constricted blood vessels dilate even further when the drug leaves your system, causing pain. So for those of us with chronic migraine, using caffeine or other abortives that cause rebound is generally a bad idea. Personally, I find I cannot tolerate a single cup of coffee–even decaf–when I am stuck in a chronic migraine cycle. It only adds fuel to the fire and makes my dizziness and anxiety significantly worse. Preventative meds are a much better option because they stabilize the brain over time.


@dizzyqueen you said just what I wanted to say so much more succinctly than I ever could! Spot on.

A lot of people swear by full fat coke and aspirin/ibuprofen to knock out a migraine. When my teenage son saw a neurologist about his occular migraines she told him to drink two strong coffees every morning (he didn’t).


A few months ago, my cardiologist advised me to cut out all caffeine due to my angina. I’ve stopped chocolate, and switched to decaf tea and decaf coffee. I also quit using Excedrin Migraine, which has caffeine.

Since then I’ve noticed an increase in the frequency of my migraines. I’m wondering if a shot of fully leaded coffee might help on those occasions that I feel a migraine coming on. My neurologist has not said anything about caffeine.

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It sounds like most of you, based on your experience, don’t think it is a good idea to reintroduce caffeine. Well, I gave it a try. I had a cup of my favourite green tea yesterday morning and felt fantastic, a bit as if I had taken a “happy drug” (but I am sure it was just Vietnamese mountain tea). I had lots of energy, went for two walks (instead of one) and did lots of other things. I felt 100% and even slept well. Today (29 hours later) I feel a bit tired. Went to my strength gym this morning, but all the weights felt more heavy. My head feels a bit spaced out, but no signs of any migraine so far. Maybe I am tired because I did too much yesterday?

After reading your comments (thank you!) I think I’ll definitely take a cautious approach. That probably means 1 cup of green tea once or twice a week. And maybe a coffee once a month.

Both my first consultant and VRT PT said that the diet is very individual and not hard and fast. They said it doesn’t work at all for some people and what you consume is irrelevant. Not all care providers would agree with that.

I had plenty of caffeine during the long recovery phase of my condition and tbh it wasn’t that bad. However I did choose to go decaf anyway as I actually find lack of caffeine to be a more comfortable existence (and you get to have more cups without feeling jittery :coffee: :coffee: :coffee: :+1:t2:)

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Just to make sure everyone is aware, Decaf is not caffeine free. It is usually around 1% or 2% of what regular caffeinated drinks are. That being said, you would have to consume about 25 cups to reach the caffeine level of a single cup.

I’ve been caffeine free for about a year now, and I must admit that ever so often I get the yen for a cup of my wife’s fully caffeinated coffee. I almost drank what was leftover in her pot yesterday when my migraine was roaring.


Sure. The differences are quantified in the wiki entry linked above.

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A tea baby myself (decaf these days) only ever have had the occasional cup of instant coffee. . Only time I ever had proper coffee would have been after a Meal Out. Never even thought of that before but all my episodic vestibular attacks started a day or so after a meal out. Now that’s got me wondering. Because of the time delay it was years before I realised there could have been a connection between Meals Out and attacks but I always thought food rather than coffee. The plot thickens. It’s so hard to pinpoint triggers. Since chronic I’ve had other attacks so the proper coffee could just be pure coincidence.

Btw I’m almost sure I’ve read somewhere both ice-cream and frozen yoghurt contain caffeine.


Please say it’s not so! I love frozen yogurt, although I haven’t had any for at least six months. I started a doctor controlled diet in January to lose weight. Since that time, the only non-liquids that have gone into me came from the program. Yogurt, frozen or otherwise are forbidden.

I’ve had more migraine attacks in the last couple of months than I’ve had ever, so I’m really hoping that proves yogurt does not contain caffeine. I know, I’m wishing.

UPDATE: A quick google (how did google become a verb?..) shows that some ice cream and frozen yogurt do contain caffeine.

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Without much effort it would appear.:grin:

I think I read caffeine actually occurs only in tea, coffee, ice cream and yoghurt but please don’t quite me on that one.

Oh if you really love it it’s bound to be off limits. I recall a friend who following his heart attack queried diet with his consultant. The consultant said ‘Make a comprehensive list of all the foods you enjoy and you can’t have any of it!’.


After bypass surgery, my cardiologist told me, “If it tastes good, spit it out.” I’ve since discovered that he wasn’t kidding. All the good tasting food seems like it’s bad for me. I guess it’s cardboard and water for the rest of my life. It’s gotten to where Mrs Dash really spices up my food…sad isn’t it?

Some cakes or brownies can also contain caffeine.

It’s 5 AM here in Oklahoma, and I’ve just made my wife’s coffee…I’m very tempted. If she leaves any in the pot, I may just succumb to see if it helps this migraine.

7 AM, she has left the house and one cup of fully leaded coffee remained in the pot, so I drank it.

12 noon, I’m no better or worse. Seems one cup has no effect.

Chocolate contains caffeine

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I think the conundrum is partly this: abstain from normal life and you won’t adapt to it ever again. Regardless of ‘triggers’ you need to push yourself a little anyway to steer your body into tolerance of normal stimuli. That’s not to say you should OD on anything.

Migraine is a stress response from maladaption (and the underlying aetiology is sensory instability is my guess, making it hard to adapt because that situation makes it difficult for the brain to recalibrate).

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