Can Coffee Get Rid of a Headache?

can coffee get rid of a headacheMost people, both children and adults, get a headache every now and then. There are a lot of reasons why: stress, tension, restlessness, sinus issues, migraines, a lack of good sleep, and dehydration.

Common headaches range from irritating to mildly painful to the extreme of debilitating and vomit inducing.

For the coffee lovers, a great way to fix a headache would be to brew a nice cup of Joe and drink the pain away.

The short answer to the question of would it work is maybe.

I know, that doesn’t really help definitively does it? Part of the allure of coffee is the caffeine it can contain in varying levels. Caffeine is a double-edged sword though. While some may like the rush is causes moving the blood through your body, it can also make a headache worse if you aren’t used to the effects of caffeine.

It’s a complicated subject, but here are a few ways to make it work for you:

The Main Reasons Why Coffee Can Help Treat a Headache

Coffee Includes Water

If your headache is brought on by dehydration, drinking a cup of coffee is going to add water to your dietary system. The caveat of that is that caffeine is a diuretic and is going to help your body move the water through your system and not absorb as much of it.

If you’re trying to fight off a headache, it may be a better choice to use decaffeinated coffee to avoid the diuretic aspect and try to retain as much water as possible.

Hot Coffee Is Flavored Hot Water

This suggestion may be a little more difficult to accommodate, but I’ll throw it out there.

Applying heat on the back of your neck can relieve a stress headache. The heat will release the tension in the muscles in your neck. The difficult part is putting a warm cup or a bag of hot coffee on the back of your neck without spilling.

You can put the coffee in a clean bag and use that, then pour the coffee into a cup when it’s cooled to a warm temperature. It’s a 2-for-1 win.

Holding a Hot Cup is good for Circulation

Another way to improve circulation is to add heat to your hands. You can put your hands in a tub of hot water, but since we’re coffee lovers it makes sense to hold a hot cup of coffee to warm our hands instead. The warmth will help your circulation move blood through your body and relieve the tension.

Try Some Additions

While black coffee is good, it gets better with additives like flavoring or creamer.

When dealing with a headache, trying different additives may give the coffee a boost. These are some flavoring options to try:

  • Lemon – Lemon is refreshing and helps relax the body. It may take some experimentation to find a good taste balance between coffee and lemon, but the lemon can help relieve gas in your stomach and balance the acid-alkaline ratio. Remember coffee can increase acid production also, so don’t go overboard with acidic items and they can double the trouble easily.
  • Apple – Apples and apple cider vinegar can help reduce a headache by also balancing the acid-alkaline ratio in your body. It may not be a great combination at first, so you’ll have to try different ratios to find what works for you. If soaking an apple chuck in your coffee isn’t great, perhaps just eat the apple and drink the coffee instead.
  • Peppermint – Peppermint is a good holiday flavor for cocoa, but it also has a good benefit when added to coffee. You can mix dried peppermint into your coffee. The smell of peppermint can also ease a headache and counteract nausea and vomiting.
  • Ginger – Ginger is another natural anti-inflammatory that will reduce tension and relax blood vessels. There are many ways to add ginger to your coffee such as soaking a chuck of ginger whole in the coffee to using a ginger tea bag to soak in your coffee for a few minutes.
  • Cinnamon – Cinnamon is a remedy that can help with headaches caused by cold air. You can buy it in powder form or you can choose to grind some cinnamon sticks into powder as needed. You will just mix the powder into your coffee in the ratio that works best for you.
  • Coriander – Coriander seeds can be chewed or added to food and drinks in extract form. They decrease inflammation.
  • Feverfew – If you’re asking what feverfew is, you’re not alone. I had to look it up myself. Feverfew can be taken in tablet or capsule form, or you can dilute it in your coffee. It tastes bitter, which may not compliment your coffee. It’s hit and miss whether it’s going to help you, but it has been used for centuries as a remedy. It’s listed as having a few potential side-effects, so use it with caution.
  • Almonds – Almonds contain magnesium which can relax blood vessels and reduce headache pain. If you currently mix a liquid creamer in, perhaps try some almond milk instead.

Caffeine is included in some over-the-counter pain relievers, which is why coffee can be a good replacement for the little pills. The hard part of the scenario is that you don’t want to be dependent on caffeine to be the fix for everything.

If you’re used to drinking a couple cups of coffee daily, the addition or reduction of coffee and caffeine may cause a headache and be counter-productive. Caffeine helps block adenosine receptors and reduces the feeling of a headache.

With this list of additives and ways to use coffee to your benefit, one thing not mentioned is to relax. If you’re busy running around and feeling stressed out, making a hot cup of coffee and forcing yourself to sit down and enjoy it may be more beneficial than what you’re drinking.

Coffee can be a good reason to take a break. They don’t call it a coffee break for nothing! Use the method that works best for you, and try a few different ones for the varying reasons we get headaches in the first place.

Brian Mounts

Head blogger, editor, and owner of "Top Off My Coffee", a website that has been educating readers about coffee brewing techniques and equipment since 2012.

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