Jet-lag Aid Proves to be Drug-Free Migraine Treatment

November 16, 2012

Frequent international business travelers swear by it, when they have to recover from a multi-time zone flight, and get back to work in their own time zone.  Individuals, who struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep through the night, also rely on this fascinating hormone called Melatonin.  Though medical practitioners don’t commonly prescribe it as a drug-free migraine treatment, there is some research support for using melatonin to manage migraines. Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted by the pineal gland in the brain.  It plays a role in the function our circadian rhythms, or internal clocks, that regulate our sleeping cycles.

In 2004 a group of medical researchers from the Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein, in Brazil found that in individuals with migraines, taking 3 mg of melatonin for three months a half hour before bedtime, helped reduce the number of migraines by about half in approximately two thirds of the subjects.  The duration and severity of the migraines also decreased.  The study was published in the journal Neurology.

An indirect way melatonin can be used as a drug-free migraine treatment is to mitigate the side effects from beta-blockers.  The National Institutes of Health MedlinePlus reports that a recent study, out of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston that found melatonin might help individuals taking beta-blockers to improve the quality of their sleep.  These drugs are often prescribed for migraines, but can also lead to insomnia or fragmented sleep.

The University of Maryland Medical Center cautions that there really isn’t a standard dose for insomnia, and recommends starting out as low as possible, for example from .1-3 mg, and then gradually increasing the dose as needed.  It also notes that a physician should be consulted before trying melatonin, as some people may be vulnerable to side effects, and it can interfere with the efficacy and safety of other medications.

For individuals who find that lack of sleep is a migraine trigger, anything that helps regulate and restore a sound sleep cycle would hold the potential to be a good drug free migraine treatment.

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