Vital Health Zone is proud to announce Lesa Rusher, who is our resident naturopathic expert and who is available to answer questions about nutrition and health.
Lesa Rusher is a qualified naturopath with a thriving business in Canberra, Australia and has a wealth of experience treating clients on a variety of health issues. Lesa Rusher's full credentials can be found in our experts area.
Lesa Rusher will answer your nutrition-related questions.
Q: I get frequent tension headaches and taking caffeine daily helps me reduce/avoid them.
Right now I consume about 200mg of caffeine daily (1 big cup of coffee).
I want to reduce how much coffee I drink but I don't want to completely cut it out because caffeine helps reduce my headaches.
How much caffeine would you recommend I take each day to help with my headaches?
I'm interested in studies, if you know of any, that show the correlation between different doses of caffeine and headache frequency.
A: A lot of people who get migraines report that strong coffee does help reduce their symptoms. This could be because caffeine initially constricts blood vessels. But this also means that over time and with excessive caffeine intake, this could also cause rebound headaches.
I cant say I know of any studies that correlate caffeine intake with reduced headache frequency, rather there are many studies that show caffeine causes headaches (especially through caffeine withdrawal). Just as caffeine may be used to help reduce headache intensity and pain, it can also cause headaches through caffeine withdrawal.
It is interesting to note that most headache remedies contain some caffeine and this is because it helps the active constituent of the medication to be absorbed better by the body.
There are a number of natural ways to reduce severity of headaches and prevent their onset in the first place, but treatment depends on the cause of the migraine headache:
- Acupuncture - some studies show this may help reduce severity and frequency of headache
- Essential fatty acids - especially omega-3 and GLA, which help to ensure proper blood flow to the whole body, decreasing likelihood of constricted blood vessels
- Peppermint oil - some studies show that diluted peppermint oil (in carrier oil), applied to the temples may reduce severity of headache (there are a number of products which are specifically made with peppermint for the purpose of reducing headache severity)
- Reduce intake of amines - certain foods contain amines, substances which are known to constrict blood vessels and trigger headaches. The most common foods are: alcohol, cheese, chocolate, citrus fruits
Please note that the information provided is for educational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Consult with your medical physician regarding appropriateness of using supplements in your healing process.
Enjoy better health!