I've gotten migraines since I was 11 (I'm 29 now), but throughout most of my 20s they were infrequent - a few times a month at most. I went mostly paleo (80/20) about a year ago, and saw a dramatic improvement in my migraines - I could go for months at a time without one - but about 4 or 5 weeks ago, I started getting daily migraines, and they've been getting progressively worse. I'd say that when they started, my diet had deteriorated a bit, but about a week after they started I went very strict paleo and have been keeping my carbs down. I feel fantastic in all aspects, except the migraines are not getting any better. I know that since it's only been about 4 weeks, I might just still need time to heal, but I'm also wondering if caffeine is the real culprit.
I've been a caffeine addict for about as long as I've gotten migraines, and I get horrible withdrawal symptoms from even just reducing my caffeine intake. I currently have about a 14 oz mug of coffee in the morning, but the amount has varied over the years from 3-4 cups per day, to just having tea in the morning. But, I've never gone totally caffeine free because of how awful I feel whenever I try. Even just cutting back to tea for several weeks leaves me feeling like I want to sleep all day, and I begin falling behind at work, so I have yet to be brave enough to try completely eliminating it.
Has anyone completely eliminated caffeine from their diet and saw a dramatic improvement in their migraines? Does anyone think they have cured any other nagging health issue by completely dropping all caffeine?
Update: I tried a fast today (it is 5pm, and I haven't eaten since around 8pm yesterday), and it is the first day I have not had a migraine in many, many weeks!! I think this bout of headaches was either an insulin or inflammation issue. I'll probably continue experimenting with intermittent fasting to control migraines for now. Needless to say, I have not given up my coffee :) Thanks everyone for your responses!
asked bykillerbee (793)
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on February 20, 2012
at 10:42 PM
Not caffeine but I can sympathise with the migraines. The dietary changes made a big difference to mine and I think magnesium supplementation was part of putting an end to them. Coffee, fizzy drinks and 101 other things will affect either magnesium absorption or excretion, so removing some of those things and increasing magnesium intake (leafy greens, nuts, ?supplementation with a cheap absorbable kind like magnesium citrate) may be worth trying if you don't already. Also vitamin D plays a role in magnesium regulation.
on February 20, 2012
at 11:37 PM
I've tried with and without caffeine and noticed no difference in my migraines, but I keep my intake below 160 mg per day. Your "normal" caffeine intake is very high. Aside from caffeine, you might examine additional food sensitivities, such as eggs, nightshades, histamine foods, etc. I still get migraines from eggs, onions, and raw garlic, strong odors, and stress.
on February 21, 2012
at 12:27 AM
I went caffeine-free for about a year and a half to help with my migraines. The verdict: caffeine itself did not have a noticeable effect upon them, HOWEVER, when I consumed it regularly, I was likely to miss a day here or there- and the withdrawal, for me, mimicked migraine quite well (and may have triggered them). So- eliminating caffeine eliminated withdrawal. (these days I take half a no-doz every day with my morning supplements. if there's a valley in my consumption, this makes up for it. if there's a peak, it has minimal effect. plus, it helps me out of bed in the AM.)
Eliminating caffeine also made it easier to see what else was causing my migraines. There's a great book out there called "Heal Your Headache" (http://www.amazon.com/Heal-Your-Headache-Program-Taking/dp/0761125663) that has some great tips to try- basically an elimination diet. Working closely with my neurologist and reading this book, and playing with my meds (preventative, abortive, supplements, and birth control), I found that my main triggers are artificial sweeteners, many forms of soy, msg, anything "protein isolate", chocolate, lots of types of alcohol, and onions (but oddly, not leeks or garlic). Stress, sleep, allergies all played roles as well. And then there's the dreaded rebound headache to watch out for.
Things that helped:
-normalizing my caffeine intake through the above method
-cutting out entirely almost all of the foods on the above list (I still indulge in the occasional chocolate, sip of alcohol, or oniony-food- just not in the same day, and sometimes not in the same week)
-normalizing my sleep as much as possible (i'm pretty insomniac, so that includes Ambien)
-supplementing Magnesium Glycinate 400mg at least once per day (for me, at night).
-if I can stand food, then "protein-bombing": I'll devour me some steak and eggs, usually with a side of plain hashbrowns and mountain dew (caffeine can really help my migraines, and through the years, MD has become the ultimate comfort food). if i'm hungry by the time I get to the toast, I'll even eat that too. For some reason that'll set me right about half the time (I figure some sort of electrolyte imbalance), with a little help from my abortives.
on February 21, 2012
at 01:55 AM
I get migraines, and caffeine elimination has not helped me, but I know people that it has helped, and it seems like with your high intake, it may be worth the withdrawal to find out what elimination does for you. I also want to point out that coffee is a diuretic, and is therefore dehyrating by nature. How much water do you drink? My rule of thumb is to drink a minimum of half the body's weight in ounces, plus more to make up for diuretic beverages and lots of sweating. I have seen people eliminate or greatly reduce migraine incidents simply by getting out of a state of chronic dehydration! These things may or may not help with your migraine issue, but they will certainly have a positive impact on you! I recommend that people who are very addicted to caffeine cut down extremely gradually. Take an entire month to gradually replace more and more of your caffeinated coffee with water processed decaffeinated coffee until by the end of the month, you are drinking only decaf. You can then gradually cut your decaf with Teeccino(or something similar) until you are drinking purely Teeccino! Oh, and others' suggestions of supplements are right on:magnesium glycinate, up to 800 mg. spread throughout the day, start with less, back up if you get loose stools or feel too sleepy, vitamin D3 with K2, fish and cod liver oil and zinc are all great for some people who suffer from migraine. I am currently seeing a TCM practitioner for treatment of migraine, and he has me on some great herbs that I feel very hopeful about. He has helped quite a few people actually eliminate migraines, and is very inspired about this. Have you ever seen a TCM practitioner for migraine treatment? Best of luck to you...
on February 21, 2012
at 02:17 AM
I tried eliminating caffeine before and it did little for my headaches. Not really migraines though, just persistent dull-to-eye-watering aches. Sometimes 2-5 times a week I'd have taken Excedrin for.
Not until I went crazy Paleo, I think it was because of seriously upping my saturated fat, upping omega-3 through quality food, and eliminating wheat, did I see them go away. I haven't taken any head ache pills since august. It wasn't caffeine in the least for me.