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NEW RESEARCH: Melatonin for Migraines Too?
By Jen Palmer, Naturopathic Doctor (ND) & NEEDS Education Director

Migraines are no fun; they are a debilitating disease that can significantly diminish your quality of life. According to the Mayo Clinic, a migraine "can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on just one side of the head. It's often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can cause significant pain for hours to days and can be so severe that the pain is disabling. Warning symptoms known as auras may occur before or during the headache. These can include: flashes of light, blind spots, or tingling on one side of the face, arm, or leg."

About 12% of Americans suffer from migraines on a regular basis. If you or someone you know suffers from these debilitating attacks, the following research may be of interest. A study investigated the use of melatonin to treat migraines as compared to the commonly prescribed drug amitryptiline, which causes side effects, such as dry mouth, weight gain, dizziness, and fatigue. In this study, 118 patients between the ages 24-40 that suffer from migraines took the prescription medication (amitryptiline), a placebo, or 3 mg of melatonin every day. The study lasted 12 weeks and during that time patients were asked to record their headache symptoms.

After the 12-week study, researchers found that patients taking melatonin had almost 26% less migraines as compared to the patients taking the placebo, and the patients taking the prescription drugs had 19% less migraines than patients taking the placebo. With regards to frequency, the melatonin outperformed the prescription drug! In terms of migraine intensity, the amitriptyline slightly outperformed the melatonin. And when they looked at duration, the medication reduced the migraine duration by 39.6% as compared to the melatonin, which reduced duration almost 33% more than the placebo. Overall, the melatonin was almost equally effective as the prescription drug, with little to no side effects.

Additionally, a positive side effect of melatonin was that the patients taking it lost .3 pounds, whereas the patients taking the medication gained over 2 pounds on average. There are other studies supporting the role of melatonin to help with weight control and manage food intake. Melatonin also helps regulate your circadian rhythm and can be beneficial to people who suffer from insomnia or travel frequently and suffer from jet lag. Nutrients that are co-factors for melatonin production include: vitamin B3 and vitamin B6, vitamin C, and folate. These co-factors can help increase the affect of the melatonin on migraines and its other benefits.

Gonçalves, Andre Leite, Adriana Martini Ferreira, Reinaldo Teixeira Ribeiro, Eliova Zukerman, José Cipolla-Neto, and Mario Fernando Prieto Peres. "Randomised clinical trial comparing melatonin 3 mg, amitriptyline 25 mg and placebo for migraine prevention." J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 87, No. 10 (2016): 1127-1132.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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