Coca-Cola and Migraine

No, this post is not a debate over the benefits or dangers of Coke.  It’s just for fun.

Coca-Cola for Migraine?

You may or may not know that Coca-Cola was originally marketed as a headache remedy.  Of course, it was somewhat different at first than it is today – probably containing much more caffeine, and some other interesting ingredients.

But I thought you might like to see the first label for Coca-Cola, as written by the inventor, John Pemberton, back in the 1880s:

COCA-COLA SYRUP AND EXTRACT  For soda water and other Carbonated Beverages.  This Intellectual Beverage and Temperance Drink contains the valuable Tonic and Nerve Stimulant properties of the Coca plant and Cola (and Kola) nuts, and makes not only a delicious, exhilerating, refreshing, and invigorating Beverage (dispensed from the soda water fountain or in other carbonated beverages), but a valuable Brain Tonic and a cure for all nervous affections–Sick Head-Ache, Neuralgia, Hysteria, Melancholy, etc.  The peculiar flavor of COCA-COLA delights every palate.

Hmmmmmm… not sure if that makes me want to go for a Coke or not!  Yes, "sick head-ache" was the old name for migraine.  Now we know a lot more about what it is (a nervous affection?!  Um, no.), and we know that Coca-Cola, old formula or new, does not cure it.

My, how things have changed!

Taken from For God, Country, and Coca-Cola by Mark Pendergrast

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15 comments… add one
  • Parin Stormlaughter Aug 20, 2010

    Not a cure at all of course but OH yeah the old, most original formula was a great treatment for sick headache according to my grandmother (born in 1895)! 😀

    Coca-cola and either aspirin or Excedrin were our family’s medicine treatment for sick headaches for literally decades. We have a strong family history of migraine on both sides of my family and my ex-husband’s father’s side. My ex has an extremely old bottle of Coke – never opened – that his grandmother gave him once as an oddity when she found it in a corner of her storage house.

    No telling how many decades old that bottle is or what sort of Coke formulation is in it but he’s proud of it. XD

    Interesting article, James!

  • marty Mar 31, 2011

    well I’m happy to report that coke does help stop a migraine attack. After years and years and years looking for treatments, including participating in a clinical trial, the one thing that has actually helped me is having 2-3 ounces of coke at the onset of a migraine. works every time! it is not magic…it is the combination of caffeine and sugar….btw…I’m a scientist….

  • Laura Nov 2, 2011

    My daughter swears by Coca-cola when she feels a migraine coming on! Excedrin also helps her. For me, nothing touches them but a triptan and/or magnesium and B-2! Weird how different things help different people!

    • Joan Jun 30, 2017

      Hi,my name is Joan and I’ve had vicious migraines almost all my life. I also 3 weeks
      Ago had a 6 hour major back surgery & from
      The Morning after I’ve had daily migraines
      That are unreal.My life is a nightmare. We
      Saw my neurologist today and he doubled
      My topomax and the imitrix.
      When we were there I told him I was drinking
      Coke to help the migraines because of the caffeine it contains.I drink coke cherry coke.Do you Think the regular coke has more
      Caffeine in it?And wow😊 I do remember the
      Old coke’s! They were Addictive! I think my friends and I one summer drank 10 bottles a
      Day 😁Please let me know about the regular
      Coke compared to the cherry coke. Bye now

  • Kayla Feb 29, 2012

    Coca-cola actually gets rid of my headaches in minutes.

  • Joseph Jul 4, 2012

    I have suffered from headaches/migraines for years, ibuprofen used to help and still does, imitrex helps often, but when they both fail if I drink a cold coca cola classic my headache is gone within minutes. Everytime and I am thankful.

  • Shawna Dec 4, 2012

    After years of getting migraines, and trying everything doctors could think of for them -. Coca cola is the only thing that works consistently. Cola and KFC will lift a week-long migraine away in a few minutes.

  • Roxanne Dec 5, 2012

    I used to swear by Coke and aspirin for my migraines. Some years ago, I gave up sodas. The number of migraines/month went down by half. So while it may have helped in the beginning, it looks like they were causing some of them.

  • Ally Oct 24, 2013

    I suffered with migraines since I was 5 years old. I just got back from the 3rd neurologist I’ve seen for migraines. After trying Imitrex and Maxalt with no relieve, guess what? This neurologist who also has migraines said to take excedrine and drink some coca cola. He is a processor at an ivy league school and works at a top notch hospital. Coca Cola took me back. My father used to take BC powder and drink Coca Cola when he had a headache, which is a common remedy in the south. (BC powder is an analgesic and was known as BC Headache Powder). Coca Cola opens the blood vessels, so guess what? I’m going to try it. It just might work!

  • mark Nov 6, 2014

    After reading all these post about coca cola I ask everyone to take a look at there caffeine intake. If you note that you have caffeine from any sort on a regular basis and then stop for however long does your headache start. You may only be masking the real problem at hand which is caffeine dependency. Of course coca cola will feel like a remedy because your just giving your body the drug its craving. Next time try taking a Mtn Dew if you see the same relief maybe quicker you my friend are a addicted to drugs aka caffeine the most abused drug in the United states. I suffered for year with intense migraine headaches flashing in the eyes and intense eye pressure. Throwing up was the only immediate relief besides feeding myself with more caffeine. I wish everyone relief from migraines on here but seriously look at your caffeine dependency and see if anything lines up. Also Try drinking a caffeine free coke next time and see the lack of relief.

  • becky Feb 5, 2015

    I suffer from migraines and recently found that coke does help me when I have one. I found this strange as I know only drink decafe tea as I was drinking so much tea at work and then one 1 or 2 cups at the weekend and that was when my migraines were worst due to the lack of caffeine. I cut out caffeine has dramatically help my migraines, but still a can of coke when I feel one coming on really helps!

  • Erin May 16, 2015

    I gave up drinking coco cola at the advice of my dr. The last two weeks I’ve been migraine free. I hope I didn’t just jinx myself. I believe my migraines are caused by different factors. Age, menstral cycles changing hormones and things like that. I do miss drinking my beloved cola but if it aliviates having the migraines, it is worth it then. On a different note, I don’t know why our migraine meds are so darn expensive and why we are limited to only having none per month. On the average, I used to have no less then 15 per month.

  • Catherine May 21, 2015

    I have had migraines for over 50 years, and every time I feel one start to nudge and rumble around my back and neck, I actually seem to start craving cola drinks. Before the triptans were developed, I took ergot which can worsen the nausea. The cola drinks helped that too. (BTW: It wasn’t until I first took triptans that I found my back pain with my migraines might be part of the migraine and not just tight muscles in reaction to the migraine – the triptans eliminated both back and head pain.)

  • Amber Sep 29, 2015

    I’m not sure about coca cola for migraines, but I know low doses of psilocybin help migraines tremendously. Several videos on YouTube point to this evidence.

  • bill Nov 12, 2015

    Zomeg is the only thing I have ever found which eradicates my migraines. And if I wait too long to take, it requires a double dose a couple of hours apart….and that couple of hours is pure, dreadful misery.
    My question is, does coke cause headache?
    I am truly addicted, although not enough I don’t believe to cause a caffeine headache. I was just wondering about the artificial colorings. Coke Zero is definitely a trigger, but what do you think about Classic?

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