Drinking Tea for Migraine Relief
People have used tea for healing for thousands of years. It is no different for people with migraine. Many have found that drinking different kinds of tea helps relieve their symptoms. However, some people find that drinking tea triggers a migraine attack or head pain.
There are many types of tea, including green, black, oolong, and herbal teas.
Some teas have caffeine, which some people find helps reduce head pain. Studies have found that caffeine combined with a pain reliever works better to relieve migraine pain than a pain reliever used alone. However, too much caffeine can trigger migraine attacks or increase the risk of medication overuse headaches.1
Other teas are caffeine-free or decaffeinated. These teas may ease migraine symptoms like nausea or simply feel comforting to drink.
Types of tea for migraine
Tea is second only to water as the most popular drink in the world. It is also a popular remedy for people with migraine. However, there is no solid science to confirm that teas prevent or stop a migraine attack. Some of the most popular teas used by people with migraine are:1
- Green tea
- Peppermint tea
- Chamomile tea
- Feverfew tea
- Willow bark
Some research shows that green tea can improve mental alertness and relieve headaches and digestive issues. This is most likely due to the caffeine in green tea.2
Peppermint tea is a popular home remedy. It has been used since ancient times to calm an upset stomach. However, most research says peppermint oil helps with nausea and headache, not peppermint leaves. Little research has been done to confirm that peppermint leaves work as well as peppermint oil.3
Chamomile tea is another herbal tea used since ancient times that is popular for its calming properties. Some people find that it eases anxiety and relieves nausea. Others find it improves sleep.4
Feverfew has a long history in folk medicine. People use it to help with many conditions, including migraine, stomach aches, fever, and arthritis. The feverfew plant looks similar to chamomile but contains different chemicals.5
Willow bark tea
Willow bark contains salicin, a chemical similar to aspirin. Like aspirin, it helps with different kinds of pain, including head pain. However, it is so similar to aspirin that the same people who must avoid aspirin should avoid willow bark tea too.6
Ginger is another plant used for centuries, mostly to help with nausea and vomiting. Research has focused on using supplements in powder form rather than the plant itself. One study found that ginger powder worked as well as the drug sumatriptan to relieve migraine severity after 2 hours. Ginger tea has not been as closely studied.7
Safety of drinking tea
Most people can drink up to 400 mg of caffeine per day. Brewed black, green, oolong or white tea may have 40 mg to 120 mg of caffeine in 8 oz. Herbal teas generally have no caffeine. For comparison, a Hershey’s milk chocolate bar (1.5 oz) has about 9 mg of caffeine, and a 12-oz Coke (regular or diet) contains 35 to 47 mg.1
Some people who are sensitive to caffeine may feel jittery or anxious if they drink too much caffeinated tea. For some people, both caffeine and tea can be migraine triggers. If caffeine or tea is a trigger for you, do not drink tea in an effort to ease migraine pain.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should discuss the safety of drinking different teas with their doctor. Several herbal teas may contain chemicals that interfere with prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Headache, anxiety, and medication interference are not all the possible side effects of tea. Patients should talk to their doctor about what to expect when using tea as a migraine treatment.1-7
As always, the best source for advice on treating migraine is your own migraine specialist. Tea may be comforting and is safe for most people. However, you should talk with your doctor to make sure any teas you drink are safe for you.