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Monday, 29 October, 2001, 11:19 GMT
Caffeine 'can ease headaches'
Coffee
Filter coffee contains the highest dose of caffeine
A cup of tea or coffee might be able to tackle certain types of headache, say researchers.

The caffeine it contains could help a higher number of people gain complete relief from "tension headaches".

Caffeine is already routinely added to many painkilling medications, including some which can be bought over the counter at chemists, and the latest research confirms that it has therapeutic value against conventional headache symptoms.

But researchers at the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago also found that giving caffeine in isolation appeared to be as useful as giving standard pain relief.

How much caffeine? (per cup)
Filter coffee - 80-115 mg
Instant coffee - 65 mg
Black tea - 40-60 mg
Cocoa - 4 mg
Can of cola - 35-60 mg
In all, 58% of headache sufferers said that taking caffeine capsules was completely successful, the same proportion as in those taking ibruprofen only - and many said they felt better more swiftly.

Tension headaches involve constant, dull pain, although not generally as excrutiating as a migraine.

Just as good

Pain is often accompanied by muscle tightness in the shoulders and neck - and can last for days.

The Diamond team found that when caffeine was added to standard painkillers, 70% of patients reported complete relief, as opposed to 58%.

On average, Britons are still said to consume 3.5 cups of tea a day.

Some studies have suggested that other chemicals in the drink may have health benefits.

However, the overall health benefits of caffeine are less clear-cut.

Some studies have linked high caffeine consumption with an increased number of headaches.

Caffeine can cause, in higher doses, a temporary rise in blood pressure, and some doctors suggest that people with heart rhythm problems should avoid it.

See also:

18 May 01 | Health
Coffee 'basis of new medicines'
25 Nov 99 | Health
Caffeine blamed for miscarriages
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