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MMW Fortschritte der Medizin

[Caffeine in analgesics--myth or medicine?].


PMID 24934064

Abstract

Caffeine as an analgesic adiuvant has been discussed for many years. In a recent Cochrane review based on 19 studies with a total of 7238 patients, caffeine enhanced the efficacy of paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin with a number needed to treat (NNT) of about 16, comparable to the effect of doubling the dose of the primary analgesic, reported by other authors. Analgesia by caffeine is best explained by antagonism at adenosine receptors. Recent studies confirmed a favourable tolerability profile of caffeine when consumed in "normal" quantities (e.g. 300 mg or about 3 cups of coffee per day), including possible cardiovascular risks, effects on bone density, and exposure in pregnancy. Beneficial effects are known,e.g.,in Parkinson's disease and liver cirrhosis and fibrosis. Caffeine remains an analgesic adiuvant with a favourable risk-benefit balance.