Are melatonin and migraines connected?
Back in October 2004, HeadWay subscribers read about a new study connecting melatonin and migraines. The study from September 2004 was conducted by a team of scientists in Sao Paolo, Brazil, with 34 migraineurs (29 were women). More than two thirds of the patients reported a significant improvement after 3 months.
Melatonin and migraines and sleep
Melatonin helps you sleep, and sleep and migraine have often gone hand in hand. Changes in sleep patterns, even getting too much sleep, can trigger migraines in many of us. Usually, migraine goes away when you get a good sleep (unlike tension headache, which often doesn't). And sleep makes it much easier to cope with any type of pain.
Many migraine treatments are also helpful for sleep, including herbs such as passionflower and valerian, and of course magnesium. Simply getting normal, regular sleep is an important part of minimizing headaches. On the other side, some things that seem to trigger migraine in some (such as caffeine and alcohol) also can lower chemicals in the body that help us get regular sleep. Cluster headaches have also been linked to sleep apnoea (breathing abnormalities while you sleep).
What is melatonin?
Melatonin is a natural chemical in the body, and is part of the chain reaction that includes serotonin. Serotonin has always been closely related to migraine, and for a while researchers thought that this neurotransmitter was the key to curing migraine. Although we no longer think things are that simple, a major part of migraine treatment for many people does include serotonin, and perhaps now melotonin. (See this article on serotonin and the food you eat) It seems that melotonin and migraines are destined to be linked.
This study is, however, a small one and more studies need to be done before melatonin becomes a major migraine treatment (WebMD has an article about this study from September 2004). It's not clear why melatonin and migraines are linked either. Is it simply that a good night's rest is more important than we think? Or are there other things that melatonin does that affects migraine symptoms? Talk to your doctor about migraine and melatonin.
Melatonin has also been helpful for those with cluster headaches, tension headaches, and even other conditions such as depression and jet lag. In the case of cluster headache, it has been theorized that changes in body temperature may trigger symptoms. Melatonin has a part in regulating those changes in your body. More on melatonin
What kind of melatonin should I take?
In the migraine study, melatonin was given to patients for three months about 30 minutes before bed. The dosage was 3mg. For most situations, 1-3mg is recommended.
Melatonin is an over the counter supplement in many countries. There are all kinds of types available, but I recommend Nature's Bounty Natural Melatonin, which can be purchased at a discount from Drugstore.com. The tablets are easy to swallow and come in 3mg portions. Remember, like many migraine treatments, you may need to try melatonin for a few months before you can see a benefit.
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