Does caffeine help migraines?
Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on April 20, 2021.
Caffeine has been shown to increase the effects of pain relievers like aspirin and acetaminophen for migraine headaches, increasing the effectiveness of these medicines by up to 40%. Caffeine can also help to narrow blood vessels in the brain during the headache which may help to alleviate pain.
For example, Excedrin Migraine is an over-the-counter medicine that contains acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine, all of which are therapeutically active. Each caplet of Excedrin migraine contains 65 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, 250 mg of acetaminophen, and 250 mg of aspirin. The regular dosage for adults is 2 caplets with a glass of water.
- Do not take more than two caplets or geltabs in any 24-hour period, unless directed by a doctor.
- If you are under 18 years of age, ask a doctor before use.
Two caplets or geltabs of Excedrin Migraine contain 130 mg of caffeine, roughly as much caffeine as in a large cup of coffee. You may want to decrease your use of caffeine while using Excedrin Migraine. Excessive caffeine consumption can cause nervousness, difficulty sleeping, irritability and rapid heart beat.
Caffeine can also trigger a migraine headache in some patients, but may be helpful as part of a treatment regimen. If you have migraines that do not respond to any over-the-counter medicines, contact your doctor. There are many prescription treatments available for migraine that may be helpful for you.
Related: List of Medications for Migraine
Always follow any instructions on over-the-counter medication labeling or any directions given to you by your doctor. If you have questions, contact your healthcare provider.
This is not all the information you need to know about Excedrin Migraine or caffeine for safe and effective use. Discuss this information and any questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.
- Lipton RB, et al. Efficacy and Safety of Acetaminophen, Aspirin, and Caffeine in Alleviating Migraine Headache Pain Three Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trials. Arch Neurol. 1998; 55:210-217. doi:10.1001/archneur.55.2.210
- Excedrin Migraine (label information). DailyMed. US National Library of Medicine. https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm
- Excedrin Migraine Medication. Excedrin.com. https://www.excedrin.com/products/migraine/
- Excedrine migraine (monograph). Drugs.com. https://www.drugs.com/excedrin-migraine.html
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