Natural Migraine Remedy Preferred Over Drugs

A substance naturally secreted by our brain was recently found superior to what is commonly prescribed for reducing the frequency of migraine headaches.

A new study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, compares melatonin, a hormone-like substance, first discovered in the pineal gland, to amitriptyline, a drug prescribed for the prevention of a migraine.

Titled “Randomised clinical trial comparing melatonin 3 mg, amitriptyline 25 mg and placebo for migraine prevention,” the study investigates the potential for melatonin to reduce migraine headaches more readily and with fewer side effects than that of the drug amitriptyline.

Migraine disorder – Is there any hope for relief?

Migraine disorder is a debilitating neurological condition. It causes discomfort to 12-20% of the world’s population. Currently, half the patient’s seeking medical help for migraines have stopped their search for care due to the side effects associated with using amitriptyline, a drug commonly prescribed for migraine disorders. The side effects of amitriptyline are no laughing matter. They have been found to cause both physical and psychiatric disorders, which are found to be more debilitating to the patient than the migraine’s experienced.

Amitriptyline side effects:

Feeling light-headed, dizziness, chest pain and pressure, pain within the shoulder or jaw, nausea, fluttering in the chest, heart pounding, confusion, hallucinations, painful urination, severe constipation, seizures, sudden weakness, fever, unusual bleeding and easy bruising, diarrhea, sore throat, red and swollen gums, difficulty swallowing, appetite changes, changes in weight, upset stomach, vomiting, itching or development of rashes, breast swelling in both men and women, impotence, a decrease in sex drive and an inability to achieve orgasm.

A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled protocol was used for the study:

Enrolled in the study were males and females, between the ages 18-65 years who suffer from a chronic migraine and experience 2-8 migraines per month.

196 participants were qualified and selected, after a 4-week baseline phase. They were then randomised to placebo, amitriptyline 25 mg or melatonin 3 mg.

178 of the participants took a medication whereby researchers followed up with them during the three months (12 weeks). The outcome for this group was measured by the number of migraine headaches experienced per month at the baseline versus the prior month. Noted were the intensity of migraine headaches reported, the responder rate, duration of migraine attack and the analgesic use. The tolerability was also observed and compared to all three groups.

Summary of Results:

The mean headache frequency reduction: Melatonin = 2.7 days of migraines
Mean headache frequency reduction: Amitriptyline = 2.2 days of migraines
Mean headache frequency reduction: Placebo= 1.1 days of migraines

Melatonin significantly reduced headache frequency when compared with the placebo but not with amitriptyline. Melatonin, however, was far superior to amitriptyline in the percentage of patients who experienced more than 50% reduction in migraines. Melatonin was found to be far more tolerable than the amitriptyline. Those who were within the Melatonin study group also experienced weight loss. Those taking the placebo experienced a slight weight gain and those in the amitriptyline group found greater weight gain resulting from the research.

Conclusion by the authors:
Taking 3mg melatonin provides greater relief than a placebo for migraine prevention and is more tolerable than amitriptyline. Melatonin 3mg has been found to be as effective in providing migraine headache relief as amitriptyline 25 mg.
Additionally “Melatonin was superior to amitriptyline in the percentage of patients with a greater than 50% reduction in migraine frequency.”

Due to multiple neuropsychiatric and physiological side effects which are experienced while taking amitriptyline, migraine sufferers end up discontinuing use to seek more natural alternatives.

A notable observation as a result of the study was the significant weight loss experienced by the melatonin group. This effect being one opposite to the weight gain commonly discovered in those treated with amitriptyline.

Melatonin- treated participants of the study experienced significant weight loss

The study explains: Melatonin was a more tolerable treatment for migraine sufferers than the drug amitriptyline., and as tolerable as the placebo.

The group treated with melatonin experienced weight loss throughout the course of the study as opposed to a slight weight gain in those treated with the placebo. There was a significant weight gain for those in the amitriptyline treatment group. This original finding is one which deserves special discussion.

Scientists reveal benefits of melatonin

This reduced body weight resulting from patients in the melatonin-treated group demonstrates the weight loss effects melatonin causes in the body. Patients who suffer from migraine attacks have been studied and found to have lower levels of melatonin than in those who do not experience migraine headaches. This lack of melatonin may potentially explain why supplementation with melatonin may help those with a deficiency, for it has an ameliorative effect. The study also went on to discuss some other possible mechanisms through which melatonin exerts its therapeutic effects which can be reviewed.

The study did caution that in individual patients, melatonin could have contraindications. In patients taking or overusing opioids, Melatonin is cautioned for it potentiates opioid analgesia. Patients who are also diabetic or have hypertension should also be monitored because melatonin can decrease blood pressure and glucose levels.

As the world embraces the use of more natural remedies as opposed to pharmaceuticals that have harsh side effects, Melatonin equipped with the same efficacy level compared to other treatments may offer relief to those patients who have debilitating and recurrent migraines.

The study recommends further analysis into the best and most efficient dosage of melatonin alongside its effect in combination with other medications.

1.Gonçalves AL1, Martini Ferreira A2, Ribeiro RT3, Zukerman E2, Cipolla-Neto J4, Peres MF2.Randomised clinical trial comparing melatonin 3 mg, amitriptyline 25 mg and placebo for migraine prevention.J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2016 May 10. pii: jnnp-2016-313458. doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2016-313458.

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