A recent study showed that melatonin is an effective treatment for migraine headaches.
Study participants had a history of 2 to 8 migraines per month. They were divided into three groups, those taking 3 mg of melatonin, 25 mg of amityptyline (an antidepressant drug commonly used to prevent migraines), and placebo. The melatonin group had better results than either of the other two groups. The criteria for improvement included less headaches per month, reduced migraine intensity and duration, and reduced use of pain killers.
Melatonin not only resulted in fewer headaches, but also less side effects and less daytime sleepiness than the antidepressant. A common side effect of amitriptyline is weight gain, and melatonin was associated with weight loss in this study.
The proper dosage for melatonin is 3 mg at night between 10:00 and 11:00 PM, mimicking the body’s natural rhythm of melatonin production. Use a fast-acting as opposed to a time-released form of melatonin.
Melatonin is a safe component of a holistic treatment plan for the managing migraines. Another supplement, butterbur, has also shown effectiveness in clinical studies of migraine. Take 50- 100 mg of PA-free butterbur twice/day.
Other components of an integrated plan include acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and correction of other neurotransmitter imbalances besides melatonin.
It is also useful to identify things that trigger migraines. These can include stress, certain foods, and food additives. Alcohol, chocolate, and nitrates in processed meats are common triggers that many people notice. Other triggers may include aspartame, soy products, ripe cheeses, and red wine. Maintaining a healthy exercise program and controlling weight have also been shown to reduce the pain level and frequency of migraines.
Randall Neustaedter OMD
American Academy of Neurology 65th Annual Meeting. Abstract S40.005. Present March 20, 2012.