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 Cafergot (ergotamine tartrate, caffeine) is a dual-action medication used as an abortive treatment for migraine headaches. Some patients also find it effective for cluster headaches, but many find alternative delivery systems -- injections or nasal sprays -- are more effective for cluster headache pain. 

Cafergot employs both ergotamine and caffeine to constrict blood vessels in the head, which reduces migraine pain and symptoms, though the exact mechanism behind migraine headaches is unknown. Both ingredients also interfere with pain receptors, dulling the sensation of pain. Together ergotamine and caffeine enhance each other, though ergotamine is considerably more powerful than caffeine. 

How to Stop a Migraine 

An abortive medication stops a headache from fully developing; it doesn't just mask pain. In order to stop a headache from developing, it must be administered before the headache gets very far along. Conversely, it won't prevent a headache from starting in the first place; there has to be a headache there to stop. 

This means there is a small window of opportunity which is the ideal time administer Cafergot: Immediately after the first symptoms begin. 

Most migraine sufferers have warning signs that a headache is coming on; auras, nausea, sensitivity to light or noise, neck pain and so forth. Unfortunately many cluster headache sufferers do not have any warning other than severe pain, which may be why the faster delivery systems of injections or sprays are preferred by so many. 

When warning symptoms are present, they should be considered the start of a headache, and Cafergot should be administered as soon as possible: 

  • Take 2 tablets, or 2 mg, at the earliest symptoms of a headache 
  • If headache persists, take an additional tablet, or 1 mg, after 30 minutes 
  • Continue taking an additional tablet every 30 minutes, up to 6 tablets total, until symptoms are gone 
  • Do not exceed 6 tablets in 24 hours or 10 tablets in 7 days 
  • Overuse may result in rebound headaches, increases risk of adverse effects, and reduces effectiveness of the medication 
While most effective if taken at earliest headache symptoms, Cafergot may still provide some degree of relief when taken at later stages. 

Some patients find effectiveness diminishes over time even without overuse. Likewise some patients find Cafergot is not very effective to begin with; as with any medication, reactions vary. There are numerous similar migraine and cluster headache treatments available, with different active ingredients and delivery methods, which may prove more helpful if Cafergot isn't providing sufficient relief. Speak with a doctor about alternative options -- relief is out there. 

Warnings & Adverse Effects 

As previously mentioned, this medication works by constricting blood vessels. The vessels which seem to impact migraines and cluster headaches are in the head, but the vasoconstriction effect of Cafergot takes place throughout the body. Patients with blood circulation problems should use it with caution, as it may exacerbate the condition. 

Most side effects are rare and not cause for alarm, but a few do call for emergency attention if experienced: 
  • Sudden, severe headache 
  • Numbness or weakness 
  • Confusion, difficulty speaking 
  • Rapid or very slow heart rate 
  • Painful cough 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Dangerously high blood pressure 
Some patients are at greater risk of experiencing severe side effects, or should avoid using this product altogether: 
  • Use with caution if peripheral vascular disease, hypertension, heart disease, impaired hepatic or renal function, or sepsis are present 
  • Patients taking protease inhibitors, macrolide antibiotics and other CYP 3A4 Inhibitors are at risk of severe reactions and should avoid using this product altogether
  • Cafergot will have no effect on other types of headaches
  • This product may be harmful to unborn and nursing babies


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Medicines have benefits and some have risks. Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist or you have side effects see your health professional.

Cafergot Reviews

  • 2014-12-07 22:58:31 EST
    A neurologist at Mayo's prescribed Cafergot for my debilitating migraines years ago. Instead of suffering in agony three or four days per headache, I would take cafergot at the first sign, sometimes later, and the pain nearly always ended within one to two hours. I inherited migraines from my dad and it appears I will always have them. I will soon run out of cafergot and none of the other meds work for me. I implore the pharmaceutical companies to manufacture this miracle drug again for so many of us for whom nothing else brings relief.
  • 2013-11-11 02:27:24 EST
    i been using this for about 15 years and really work for my migraines, but its not available here in Saudi Arabia id try any others medicine but its not work for me... its is possible to ship here in Saudi Arabia
  • 2013-09-24 00:10:27 EST
    Nothing else has ever worked for me. I carry it all the time and when taken at the first symptom has aborted the headache 100% of the time.
  • 2012-01-11 19:25:05 EST
    It is the only migraine medication that works for my migraines. I have tried all the newest / latest etc and they do not help in any way.
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