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Melatonin May Help Prevent Migraines

Brazilian Researchers Report Success in Small Study
WebMD Health News

Sept. 9, 2004 -- Taking melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime can help curb migraine headaches, according to a small study by Brazilian scientists.

Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain's pineal gland; it helps regulate sleep-wake cycles. Imbalances in the level of melatonin in the body may be related to headaches like migraines and cluster headaches.

The findings, which come from a team of researchers led by Mario F.P. Peres, MD, PhD, of Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in Sao Paolo, Brazil, show that melatonin may be used as a preventive therapy for frequent migraine sufferers.

Peres and colleagues studied 34 migraine patients, 29 of whom were women. They reported a history of two to eight migraine attacks per month.

Some participants had migraine with aura, which can include seeing visual phenomena like wavy lines, spots, or sparks.

With or without aura, migraines can severely disrupt life. Although triggers for migraines are well recognized, what makes an individual person susceptible to developing migraines is not known.

Study's Details

In the study's first month, the participants didn't take melatonin.

The researchers used that time to monitor the participants' untreated migraine problems. They also gave participants diaries to record their symptoms throughout the study.

During the study's last three months, participants took 3 milligrams of melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime.

The melatonin was intended to prevent migraines, not treat migraines already in progress.

Since this was an "open-label" trial, participants knew they were taking melatonin.

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