Caffeine Makes Headache Medicine Work Faster

April 18, 2010 at 11:40 pm 7 comments

Not all, but some medicine actually contains caffeine to make it work faster, particularly headache relief medications.

I went to CVS pharmacy and snapped this picture of their headache relief formula.

As you can see, the main ingredients are acetaminophen (aka “Tylenol”) and Aspirin. But, there is a significant amount of caffeine too.

At 65 mg, that’s about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. Caffeine allows faster absorption of these drugs and makes them 40% more effective according to Web MD. That means you don’t need to take as much, saving you some money and reduces side effects.

Although it reduces the amount of painkiller you need to take, it raises the amount of caffeine you consume. This creates a slight risk of  additional headaches due to caffeine withdrawal when you stop. Be sure to read the package directions and not take more than recommended.

Broken Secrets | Written By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Web MD, International Coffee Organization, WP Caffeine, WP Codeine,

Entry filed under: Food and Drink, Health and Beauty. Tags: , , , .

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Molly  |  April 19, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    i have a headache, so i’m going to go and take an advil with a can of coke instead of a glass of water. :)

  • 2. Donna - WWAHHMpreneur  |  April 21, 2010 at 7:27 am

    So glad that I voted for you guys. You’re surely worth my vote.

    I’m actually allergic to caffeine, but I have to have it once a month, don’t know why, but it helps (associated with headaches and hormone challenges), but then after that week is over, I’m good to go.

    Now that I know some products add caffeine, I’ll be more watchful of ingredients and dosages.


  • 3. RandyMarsh  |  April 21, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    The reason caffiene is in headache pills is because most headaches are caused by caffiene withdrawal in the first place

    • 4. Barry Spencer  |  April 26, 2010 at 6:17 pm

      I think so too. In fact I think all primary headaches including all migraines are caused by caffeine withdrawal. The prevailing assumption is that primary headaches such as migraine have other causes besides caffeine, and can occur absent caffeine use, but that assumption has never been tested. I intend to do a trial study in which migraine patients are instructed to wean themselves from caffeine, their compliance verified by saliva tests. Assuming some subjects comply and truly stop using caffeine, this trial will for the first time allow migraine to be observed absent caffeine use. I predict migraines will cease in all compliant subjects.

      • 5. jaclyn  |  May 4, 2010 at 4:52 pm

        not all migranes are caused by caffeine withdrawl. i suffered from severe migranes, and after months of thorough testing, was able to determine that the cause of my migranes is caramel. i have not had a migrane since eliminating caramel from my diet completely.

      • 6. John  |  December 28, 2013 at 2:55 pm

        Barry, I want to discuss your research further. I think you have uncovered some salient points in migraine research that deserve further exploration.

  • 7. Laurel Briskey  |  October 1, 2021 at 12:02 pm

    Should I be drinking coffee with hydrocodone-acetaminophen? I drink 3 cups in the mornings.
    Should I drink less?


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