Natural Supplement Provides Hope For Chronic Headache Sufferers
The Will Erwin Headache Research Foundation was founded to find a cure for cluster headaches and migraines, increase awareness about the different types of debilitating headaches, and the available treatment options to those in need. The Foundation strives to remain a knowledge leader in the field and keep others informed of any changes and updates to the research associated with these debilitating headaches. One area of consideration to keep in mind is the relationship between headache pain and quality sleep.
Why is sleep important to headache patients?
Getting a night of sufficient sleep is linked to less frequent headache occurrences. However, some sufferers may experience difficulty falling asleep due to ongoing attacks preventing them from getting the rest they need. A consistent and well-developed sleep routine is essential to headache pain prevention, recovery, and relief during an attack. Melatonin, a well-known sleep aid, has shown positive results in decreasing migraine pain and cluster headache attacks.
Melatonin: The Missing Link
This naturally occurring hormone is produced when the body is in a dark environment void of brightly lit areas or sunlight. Therefore, melatonin production typically elevates at night, causing optimal secretion levels from the pineal gland in the brain during hours of rest. However, samples taken from chronic headache sufferers have shown consistently low levels of naturally occurring melatonin regardless of the amount of sleep or light exposure. This imbalance may provide insight into why recurring headache pain is happening in patients and could lead to additional research and findings in the future.
Studies Show Promising Results
During a trial that included 20 cluster headache patients, two primary chronic and 18 episodic, half of the patients were given melatonin while the other half received a placebo. A 10 mg dose of melatonin was administered, during a cluster period, each evening for 14 days. The frequency of headaches was significantly reduced, with five patients reporting a decline in attacks three to five days after treatment began, and reduced use of pain relievers was noted. Additionally, there was no reoccurrence of pain until after melatonin use was discontinued. While the response rate was low, no side effects were reported, making melatonin a suitable option for those who cannot tolerate other medications. The chronic cluster patients did not respond.
In another study, men and women aged 18 to 65 years old, who experienced between two and eight migraine attacks per month, were enrolled to compare a 3 mg dose of melatonin to 25 mg of amitriptyline. A placebo group was also involved. The results support a 3 mg dose of melatonin as a preventative therapy for migraine pain. Melatonin was more effective than the placebo and as effective as the 25 mg dose of amitriptyline in the primary end point. However, melatonin showed more success in the secondary end point (50% responder rate) than the placebo and amitriptyline. Over a three month period, no serious adverse events were reported, with the majority of events observed as mild or moderate in intensity. Adverse events were noted more commonly in the amitriptyline group than the others, with the melatonin and placebo groups sharing similar results. The side effects reported the most by the melatonin group were daytime sleepiness, itchy skin, epigastralgia, dry mouth, and constipation.
Melatonin shows positive results in the effective prevention of headache pain and frequency of headaches when taken consistently. Very few side effects have been reported by patients and no long-term dependency. While the effectiveness of melatonin is apparent, how it works is still an active area of research; it is important to discuss this option with your physician before trying it on your own.
How can The Will Erwin Headache Research Foundation help?
The Will Erwin Headache Research Foundation works diligently to provide knowledge and awareness of the available treatment options for the millions of people who suffer from migraines and debilitating headaches. The Foundation is dedicated to furthering migraine and headache research to find a cure to the pain for sufferers worldwide. To help The Foundation in its mission, please consider contributing today.