Chronic migraine is when the disabling headaches occur on more than 15 days each month. Nobody's sure what causes them, or why they are so frequent. A Brazilian research team now suggests that they may be caused by hormone imbalance. Low melatonin levels appear to be part of the problem.
"Melatonin may have a role in the treatment of chronic migraine, particularly in those patients with insomnia, but further studies are necessary to confirm this," write M.F.P. Peres and colleagues in the current issue of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry.
Peres's team took hourly blood samples from 17 patients with chronic migraine and from nine age- and sex-matched healthy volunteers. Analysis of these samples revealed that the migraine sufferers had abnormal hormone levels. Those who also suffered from insomnia had significantly lower melatonin levels than those who did not have trouble sleeping.
Melatonin is a hormone with many functions. One of them is regulation of sleep and waking cycles. This isn't the first time that melatonin has been linked to headache. People with cluster headaches, episodic migraines, and menstrual migraines also appear to have low melatonin levels.