Will melatonin cause headaches? or Can melatonin prevent migraines?
Let’s try to figure it out.
Melatonin is a natural medicine with a favorable side effect profile that can prevent migraines . A recent study compares the efficacy and safety of melatonin with the commonly used prophylactic drug amitriptyline.
Migraine headaches are a common condition characterized by recurrent moderate to severe headache attacks, autonomic dysfunction (eg, vomiting), and in some patients, neurological symptoms (eg, visual disturbances). Medications for migraine prevention include beta-blockers and other blood pressure medications, tricyclic antidepressants, serotonin receptor antagonists, valproic acid, topiramate, and gabapentin. Despite the many medications that can be used to prevent migraines, only three to five percent of patients receive preventive therapy. The most common reason for avoiding these drugs is their unfavorable side effect profile.
Since migraine sufferers must take the daily dose of preventive therapy to prevent migraines, the list of side effects of the medication is a very important factor to consider. Effective and affordable options are needed.
Researchers from the Department of Neurology at Albert Einstein Hospital in São Paulo, Brazil, set out to compare a natural medicine, melatonin, with conventional preventive therapy with amitriptyline. Patients were randomized to melatonin, amitriptyline, and placebo, and the study lasted 12 weeks. The primary endpoint was the number of days with migraine headaches per month. As secondary outcomes, the researchers looked at reductions in headache severity, duration of headache attacks, amount of pain relievers consumed, and percentage of patients with more than 50% reduction in days with pain.
The results of this study were highlighted in the Canadian Pharmacists Association’s Headache Report. The efficacy of melatonin 3 mg and amitriptyline 25 mg was equally superior to placebo for reducing the number of days with pain per month. An important measure of the effectiveness of preventive migraine therapy is to reduce the frequency of headaches by at least 50%. In this indicator, melatonin was superior to amitriptyline. More research and study of other melatonin doses (5 mg, 10 mg) and formulations (i.e. rapid dissolution, spray) are needed to confirm these results.
Participants reported no serious side effects during the 12-week study. The most common side effect reported with melatonin and amitriptyline was drowsiness. These medications are usually taken at bedtime, but morning sleepiness is still a common side effect. Greater drowsiness was reported in the amitriptyline group. Since migraine sufferers are likely to require long-term preventive therapy, more research is needed to confirm safety and efficacy over a longer period of time (i.e., at least one year).
Melatonin is a safe natural medicine that can be used to prevent migraines . It is an easily available over the counter and inexpensive therapy that can improve the quality of life for migraine sufferers.