Medical News Today: What to know about caffeine withdrawal headaches

The quickest and easiest way to relieve a caffeine-withdrawal headache is to consume caffeine.

However, people trying to cut back on caffeine can use several other remedies or tricks to reduce caffeine withdrawal headaches.

Taking over-the-counter pain medication

Medicines that are available over the counter, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen, contain compounds that block pain signals and ease most headaches.

That said, taking pain medication more than two to three times a week may lead to a headache known as a medication overuse headache, or a rebound headache.

Staying hydrated

Dehydration causes the brain to shrink, which can set off pain receptors in the skull. Sometimes even minor dehydration can lead to an intense headache.

Applying ice

Icing an area constricts the underlying blood vessels and slows the transmission of nerve signals.

In one study, researchers showed that applying a frozen neck wrap to the neck reduced pain in participants who were experiencing migraines.

Applying topical menthol

Menthol can numb the skin and reduce pain. Rubbing a few drops of diluted peppermint essential oil on the forehead or temples may be effective.

Getting enough rest

Sleep and sleep disorders are associated with many types of headache, meaning there is generally a link between sleep and headache pain. Getting the right amount of quality sleep each night usually reduces headache pain.

However, getting too much sleep or using sleep medications too often can make headaches worse.


Researchers are not sure how acupuncture eases headache pain, but it may slow down the transmission of pain signals and activate brain pathways that can turn them off.


Acupressure is a technique based on the traditional Chinese medical therapy of acupuncture. It involves manipulating specific pressure points in the body, which may help reduce headaches by improving blood circulation and lessening muscle tension.

Dietary supplements

Researchers have studied many different dietary supplements as potential treatments or preventative options for headaches. They have found only a handful with potentially positive effects:

Most supplements only work when taken regularly over time.

Anyone thinking of trying herbal supplements should talk to their doctor first as some can interact with other medications while others, such as butterbur, may have potentially harmful side effects.

Read more about natural remedies for headaches here.

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