Interest in using melatonin for headache disorders has been developing for decades. Over the years, several clues have emerged to suggest that melatonin plays a role in a variety of headache disorders, including migraine, cluster, and tension. In patients with migraine headaches, for instance, some research shows that melatonin levels are lower on days when migraines occur. Patients with chronic migraine also appear to have lower melatonin levels than those with episodic migraine. Nighttime melatonin levels are also lower in patients with migraine compared with those without.
Imaging studies provide additional evidence for melatonin’s role in migraine prevention. During migraine attacks, the hypothalamus is activated. Given the presence of melatonin receptors within the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus, it is conceivable that melatonin’s binding and action in the hypothalamus could play a role in these headaches.
Melatonin might also affect headaches through direct effects on pain and inflammation. Animal studies show that melatonin can reduce pain perception in models of inflammation and neuropathic pain, possibly by binding receptors in the spinal cord or through a variety of other pathways.
Clinical research evaluating melatonin in patients with migraine headaches has focused on migraine prophylaxis. Most studies have found beneficial effects from melatonin on headache frequency; however, some of these studies also have serious methodologic limitations. Several uncontrolled studies found that taking melatonin over a period of 2-6 months significantly reduced migraine headache frequency in both adults and children. In these studies, about 62-78% of patients had a greater than 50% reduction in migraine frequency at the end of the trial compared with at the beginning.
In all clinical trials, melatonin was well tolerated, with sleepiness being the most commonly reported side effect. Less common side effects included fatigue, dizziness, constipation, stomach upset, and dry mouth. In the placebo-controlled trials, side effects were comparable to those of placebo and less common compared with either amitriptyline of sodium valproate.
Overall, the evidence supporting melatonin for migraine prevention is promising but still preliminary. Nonetheless, given the favorable tolerability and low risk for side effects, melatonin is an option that may be worth considering for reducing migraine frequency, severity, and duration in patients with frequent migraine headaches.
This article was written by Philip J Gregory, a pharmacist. It is refreshing to see a drug specialist review and advise the use of a natural, drug free remedy for migraine prevention.
Melatonin is produced by the body in the pineal gland by direct stimulation of sunlight. It builds and stores all day then is activated by darkness. You can improve your production and activation by making sure you are exposed to daylight and sleep in a dark room.
I am not a fan of melatonin supplementation, except for a one-dose treatment as a sleep aid after flying through four or more time zones in a single day.
Rather, I recommend the herb Chaste Tree. Taken early in the day, it stimulates the body to make more melatonin. Studies show daily supplementation of Chaste Tree will increase the production of melatonin by 95% in two weeks.
The Bottom Line:
Melatonin can be very effective in reducing the frequency and intensity of migraine headaches. However, please try a good quality Chaste Tree supplement rather than taking melatonin on a regular basis. For more information, please type “Chaste Tree” in the search box at the top of my blog page. I’ve posted several blogs on this important herb.
Source: April 30, 2018 Medscape