Melatonin, which is widely used as a sleep-aid, is also effective for migraine prevention, according to findings from a small trial.
Melatonin is secreted by the pineal gland in the brain and is involved in regulating the circadian cycle. There is increasing evidence that melatonin secretion is related to headache disorders, Dr. Mario F. P. Peres, of Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein, in Sao Paulo, and colleagues note in the medical journal Neurology. “Altered melatonin levels have been found in cluster headache, migraine with and without aura, menstrual migraine, and chronic migraine,” the researchers write. The team tested the effectiveness of melatonin for preventing migraine, with or without aura, in 34 sufferers. The participants were given 3 milligrams of melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime. Among the 32 subjects who completed the study, 25 experienced at least a 50 percent reduction in headache frequency after three months of treatment. Specifically, eight patients had a complete response, seven had more than a 75 percent reduction in headache frequency, and ten had between 50 percent and 75 percent reduction. No increase in headaches was seen. Melatonin also decreased headache intensity and duration, and overall use of painkillers and drugs to treat a migraine decreased, Peres and colleagues report. “This is the first study to assess melatonin efficacy in migraine prevention,” the researchers point out. Based on these findings, they suggest that a “controlled study may be worthwhile,” in which melatonin would be compared with a placebo treatment. (SOURCE: Neurology: Reuters Health News: September 2004.)