Why does Excedrin Migraine provide an energy boost, euphoric mood lift and control frequency of bathroom trips? I would like assistance finding a substitute for Excedrin Migraine, my doctors don’t know why Excedrin Migraine works this way for me, I joined this forum hoping a chemist could help. I discovered unexpected benefits from taking it and, remarkably, it helps me function and temporarily manage Crohn’s symptoms and chronic fatigue. It’s my wonder drug, but due to the side effects of acetaminophene, I don’t use Excedrin Migraine too often and would love to find a substitute. Perhaps other people can benefit too. I started using it many years ago for migraines and was delighted to discover additional benefits. I currently don’t use or need any prescribed medications and follow a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, walking, diet, caring communities, etc. As a young adult, I suffered from Crohn’s Disease for 13 years, but healed myself naturally after years of steroids and pain killers. The disease left scar tissue with symptoms that I manage. Don’t know why, but for about 4 hours after taking Excedrin Migraine, I don’t need to use the bathroom. I’ve been managing chronic fatigue most of my adult life and Excedrin Migraine lifts my mood and gives me an amazing energy boost for about 4 hours. Thank you, Ruth Katz, Morning Walk Studio.
First of all, it is a combination of acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine. I suspect it is the caffeine that really makes you feel different from other simple pain medications.
If you don't have a problem with aspirin (it's ALL most of us used, almost forever) then you might do just as well with aspirin and a cup of coffee or a cola soft drink. From the pain meds viewpoint I would try ibuprofen (that's what I use most of the time) if acetaminophen is a problem. Remember that taking ANY type of pain medication too regularly can alter its effect on your body and symptoms. If you like acetaminophen, just use an equivalent amount of the plain tablets, add in the proper amount of aspirin, and swallow them with that coffee or cola! That will do the trick.
Dr. Cooke gave you an excellent answer.
You asked the question why do you feel "an energy boost, euphoric mood lift and control frequency of bathroom trips?"
Since people can react differently within limits to certain drugs, you might want to create your own versions of these ingredients and then leave one of the three out for each dose and record how you feel and react. You should be able to figure out pretty quickly which of the combination is producing your individual reaction.
More specifically each caplet of Excedrin Extra Strength, and as far as I know, Excedrin Migraine contains 250 milligrams (mg) of acetaminophen, 250 mg of aspirin, and 65 mg of caffeine.
A standard aspirin tablet is 325 mg. A single baby aspirin contains 81 mg of aspirin. A standard acetaminophen tablet such as Tylenol contains 325 mg acetaminophen. An Extra Strength Tylenol contains 500 mg acetaminophen. A single NoDoz pill contains 200 mg caffeine. A 12-oz Coke contains 34 mg caffeine. Diet Coke and Coke Zero are slightly higher in caffeine content with about 42 mg/12 oz. Coffee varies from about 70-140 mg caffeine/8 oz cup, with the usual amount assumed to be ~95 mg caffeine/8 oz cup.
So three baby aspirins, half of an Extra Strength Tylenol and a third of a NoDoz pill (or one and a half 12-oz Diet Cokes) would be roughly the equivalent of one Excedrin Migraine pill.
Hello Dr. Cooke and Dr. Freeman,
Thank you so much for taking an interest in and replying to my inquiry about finding an alternate to Excedrin Migraine. I’ve tried different OTC remedies and combinations on my own. Aspirin, Tylenol and Advil by themselves or with caffeine don’t work. No-Doz doesn’t do the same thing as Excedrine Migraine. Coffee, cola and chocolate are migraine triggers and lead me to Excederin Migraine (generic version with same ingredients also works.) The combination of 500 mg acetaminophen, 250 mg of aspirin, and 65 mg of caffeine relieves migraines for me and many other people, it’s a very popular OTC remedy. I discovered that this combination of chemicals is wonderful for temporary relief of chronic fatigue and Crohn’s related symptoms. I’m aware of the side effects and want to find a safer OTC or natural remedy and perhaps, discover something that works for other people with the same condition.
Here's a link to the article that lead me to ACS:
How Does Acetaminophen Work? Researchers Still Aren’t Sure
A clearer picture might pave the way for new painkillers
By Carmen Drahl
Also, I searched online for people who share my experience:
“…started taking excedrin migraine and it totally stops my migraines. One of the side effects for me is gives me a huge energy boost and a feeling of euphoria. I mean, I feel like I'm on top of the world after I take this stuff.
I like to mountain bike at lunch time at work. Today I was having a headache so I popped a couple of excedrin migraine and went for a ride. I had so much energy today it was unbelievable. After every hill climb I recovered much faster and we ready for another…”
This is a very important issue for me and I appreciate that you've taken time to consider it.
Acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine acts as a combination medicine. The mechanism of action of this combination is from the accumulation of each of the components effect; each component has a different mechanism of action in the human body and the combination of the 3 shows synergistic effects, versus than each used alone.
For example, Caffeine is the most commonly used psychoactive drug in the world. It relaxes muscle contractions in blood vessels to improve blood flow. A stimulant of the central nervous system, caffeine can give a temporary mood boost. But this can also pump up adrenaline levels, which primes us for exercise but can leave us more irritable and anxious. Caffeine can block different adenosine receptors in the brain, with varying effects. By blocking the A1 receptor, which promotes sleepiness when activated, caffeine can increase alertness. By blocking the A2A receptor, caffeine can increase dopamine levels, which has stimulating and mood-enhancing effects. By increasing catecholamine signaling (adrenaline and dopamine), caffeine can benefit mood and focus. People who seldom consume caffeine will typically experience improved power output during anaerobic exercise, as well. Caffeine also induces faster absorption and prolonged half-life of acetaminophen.
See these references to start:
Hello Cynthia Ebner,
Thank you for considering my inquiry and sending this very interesting information to me about Excedrin Migraine. I'm grateful for the synergistic effect of these components. I will continue using it a couple times a week and keep looking for a safer remedy that I can use more often.
The aspirin may be what makes you retain the fluid for 4 hours. I know people who take it before flying so as not to have to use the plane restroom.
Hello Mary Bossard,
Thank you for considering my inquiry and contributing your point of view. I tried all three ingredients separately, but didn't get the same result as when combined. Regarding less frequent bathroom visits, my guess is it's not about absorption, but that peristalsis slows down, similar to using opioids. Here's what I get from all of your expert responses is:
I am committed to being naturally healthy as possible without any pills and have been amazingly successful in that area throughout my life, so will keep exploring diets, safer OTC remedies and natural supplements.
Wow , I thought I was the only one that had this same feeling when I took Excedrin extra strength. It makes me have energy, focus and I feel amazing! But I know this isn’t good taking all the time. Have you Found a safe substitute?
I can't answer the original question but if anyone is interested I have read that riboflavin supplements can help prevent migraine. I was getting migraines and was able to mostly eliminate a lot of my triggers from my life (before I could not avoid some of them due to a work situation). I believe it also helped that I began to take some supplements regularly including B complex, choline, zinc, and iron, all of which I was probably deficient in before. I also started taking betaine, but I don't know if that was a help for the migraines--I haven't read anything about a connection there but it does help my mood, better than an antidepressant in my opinion.