Caffeine has various effects on the brain. If coffee can relieve an attack, withdrawal can trigger a migraine. Read on for more details!

What is the effect of caffeine on migraines? Caffeine relieves migraines (it can be found in many over-the-counter medicines), but caffeine is also said to trigger migraines… which statement is true?

Caffeine is a neuroactive substance, which means it stimulates many of the brain’s neurotransmitter systems. It IS efficient to treat migraines, this has been scientifically proven. BUT, when you ingest a lot of caffeine, the brain gets used to this continuous stimulation.

A slight decrease in caffeine levels can trigger an attack (remember: migraine sufferers do not tolerate changes well). Belated morning coffees are probably partly responsible for “weekend migraines”. TIP: A recent study showed that reducing coffee intake to 2 cups a day also reduced migraine frequency… but people who completely quit drinking coffee (except for decaf) improved even more.

If you suffer from a lot of migraines, you might want to give up coffee entirely. Health Canada recommends a maximum daily caffeine intake of 300-400 mg… you might exceed this amount faster than you think!

The table below shows the caffeine ratio in some food products. Refer to Health Canada’s website for more information.

 

 

Food Approximate Caffeine Dose (mg)
Espresso Coffee (8 ounces) 120
Regular Coffee (8 ounces) 180
Decaffeinated Coffee 5
Tea 30 to 50
1 Can of Coke 40
Chocolate Cake 40
1 Can of Redbull 80

 

 

It is easy to underestimate your caffeine intake, especially with the large sizes offered at Starbucks, Tim Hortons or Second Cup, for instance.