Using caffeine as a migraine treatment
(written the last week of May, 2016)
Something extraordinary happened on Thursday of this week. I woke with a really bad migraine, complete with that sinus stuffiness and dizziness. I am scheduled to open my bookshop every Thursday morning, but I knew that, for the second day in a row, I’d be useless at work. I texted the store manager, T., who had graciously offered to be on call should I be sick again. He agreed to switch shifts with me so that I’d work Friday instead—both of us were hoping I’d at least be better by then.
But something crazy happened. Within an hour, the migraine was gone…and I had taken no pills. I texted T. to say I’d be happy to switch back if he hadn’t already rearranged his schedule, but he and I decided to keep things as they were. Suddenly I had a whole, unscheduled day ahead—and I was migraine-free.
What had I done, you wonder?
Well, first of all, I got out of bed. This is easier to do on days when my head is stuffy and lying down isn’t as comfortable (on migraine days when my head isn’t totally congested and my neck doesn’t feel cramped, I’m apt to just stay in bed).
Then, when grinding the beans for Jim’s coffee, I decided to make a cup for myself. (I say “Jim’s coffee” since I recently quit my small but significant daily caffeine—see my post about that here. “Maybe a cup of coffee will help make it a little better,” I thought, “And then I can take meds.”
Within 30 minutes of drinking the coffee, my migraine was 95% gone. I was elated. I couldn’t believe it. After taking triptans, I often feel so woozy and weird that I wonder if it’s the medication’s side effects or the migraine postdrome making me feel not quite right despite the pain having dissipated.
On Saturday morning, just two days later, the same thing happened. I woke up with a significant migraine after having really crappy sleep, and my head felt heavy and stuffy. I knew that one of my booksellers could step in for me to cover my morning shift if need be, but I really didn’t want to ask that of them on a Saturday morning. So I tried the coffee trick again. I had a cup, and by 8:30, I was showered and 90% better and ready to tackle a day of work.
When I decided to cut out coffee again this spring, my intent was not to be rid of it entirely come hell or high water but to use it when I needed it most—when I really was exhausted or when I had a migraine. So now I’m using it as a migraine treatment, and it’s working wonders. I don’t recall having such amazing results from caffeine as a migraine treatment since I was a teenager at a concert in the hot summer weather—during that migraine (which I didn’t know was a migraine—this was pre-diagnosis) I chugged a huge soda and my migraine disappeared.
Have any of you successfully used caffeine deliberately as a migraine treatment? Have you been able to avoid prescription medication by using caffeine instead? Share your story below. In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed that this trick keeps its magic and effectiveness for me as time goes on!
Can you tell when a migraine attack is coming?