How Drinking Coffee Can Reduce Migraines

Taking small amounts of caffeine by drinking coffee can reduce migraines and ease migraine pain. Caffeine works by blocking the action of adenosine. It does so by occupying and blockading adenosine receptors embedded in the surface membranes of neurons (nerve cells). In the central spinal system, adenosine may act as a tranquilizer and painkiller.However when adenosine is in the outer reaches of our nervous system, it causes pain. Adenosine dilates blood vessels in the head and neck, causing localized pain as experienced in a migraine attack. The concentration of adenosine in the head and neck is also increased above normal during a migraine attack.Caffeine, when taken in sufficiently small doses, alters the functioning of the human nervous system without adverse effects. In fact, caffeine works as a natural migraine relief. The caffeine molecule is very similar in shape to adenosine. Caffeine molecules fit into adenosine receptors without activating them. This prevents adenosine from binding to adenosine receptors, thereby effectively blocking the action of adenosine. Caffeine also constricts blood vessels in the head and neck.

Nonopioid analgesics are pain relievers which are recommended by the U.S. Headache Consortium as the first line of treatment for people with mild-to-moderate pain and disability from migraine. Caffeine is sometimes combined with nonopioid analgesics to relieve migraine pain. This combination has been found to increase the potency of these drugs by as much as forty percent. For this reason, the combination of caffeine and nonpioid analgesics has been made available commercially. Excedrin Migraine is a combination of acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine formula.

When harnessing the pain-relieving benefits of coffee and caffeine, it is important to note that less is more. Caffeine and migraine may complement each other, but they can also work against each other. This is because large doses of caffeine can potentially be a migraine trigger. While caffeine constricts blood vessels in the head and neck, at the same time it also increases the release of excitatory neurochemicals. This in turn increases the rate of nerve firing. In the absence of caffeine, rebound headaches may hit you with a vengeance when caffeine intake is withdrawn.

A possible solution is to save the use of coffee only for emergencies. If you are only feeling a craving for the taste of coffee, use decaffeinated coffee instead. Avoid caffeinated soft drinks and beware of hidden caffeine sources in energy drinks, vitamin waters and orange soda. Drink your regular coffee only when necessary to curtail a migraine attack. This way, the caffeine will be more effective without the occurrence of monstrous rebound headaches.