Melatonin and Migraines: A Surprising Treatment for Migraine Sufferers

Melatonin for migraines can be an unexpected and effective treatment option. The hormone may decrease migraine frequency and intensity.

The crushing pain, nausea, and light sensitivity of a migraine headache can wreak havoc on the lives of migraine sufferers. For many, the only treatment options are heavy-duty pharmaceuticals with many unpleasant side effects. And those don’t even work for everyone. But research is pointing to surprising melatonin benefits that may offer new hope to migraineurs.

Melatonin, most commonly known as the sleep hormone, helps to control our circadian rhythm, the 24-hour cycle that tells our bodies when it is time to sleep.[1] Although it’s primary function is biological timekeeping, researchers have found that it can also modulate and decrease pain, possibly playing an important a role in migraine prevention. 

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Melatonin benefits for pain

Produced by the pineal gland, melatonin is at its lowest level during the light of day and steadily increases to a maximum level late at night.[1] Researchers noted that many people have less pain at night—just when melatonin is peaking. They looked deeper and learned that melatonin acts on the receptors for many pain-relieving molecules in the brain (eg, opioid receptors), leading to a decrease in pain sensations when melatonin levels are high. Melatonin supplements have been shown to lower pain intensity in conditions such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and migraine headaches.[2]

Decreased melatonin levels in migraine patients

Strengthening the link between melatonin and migraine, multiple studies have found that patients with migraine have significantly lower melatonin levels at night than healthy controls.[3,4] Perhaps even more interesting is that melatonin levels in migraine patients do not increase during the menstrual cycle the way that they normally do, implicating melatonin as a factor in menstrual migraine, a very common occurrence for women.[3,5]

Melatonin may prevent and treat migraine

Based on these findings, melatonin is being pursued as a possible therapeutic tool to prevent migraines. A clinical trial found that 3 mg of melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime helped to reduce the overall frequency, intensity, and duration of headaches for the subjects in the study. 25 out of the 32 participants saw a decrease in headache frequency of 50%, and 8 participants saw a complete remission of headaches. This study also found menstrual migraines to be improved as well for the female subjects.[6]

Researchers also looked at the use of agomelatin, a melatonin receptor agonist (something that acts like melatonin in the brain), to treat migraines. They found that the intensity and duration of migraine attacks decreased with use of agomelatin, and overall depression and sleep disruptions improved as well.[7] Although agomelatonin itself is not naturally occurring, these results add to the growing body of evidence of the promising melatonin benefits for migraine sufferers.

Try melatonin for yourself

To try using melatonin as a preventative migraine treatment at home, take it 30 to 60 minutes before sleep on a daily basis. The most promising studies show a dosage of 3 mg to be effective in reduce migraine symptoms.[6] Along with helping you to fall and stay asleep, a melatonin supplement might just help relieve some of your pain and let you live more migraine-free days. Give it a try and tell us what you think.

Share your experience with melatonin and migraines

Do you suffer from migraine headaches or other painful conditions? Have you tried melatonin or other natural remedies? Have you experienced other melatonin benefits? What migraine remedies have you found to be the most effective?

Please help our community by sharing your thoughts, questions, and experiences. You can comment below, visit us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

[1] CNS Drugs. 2006;20(5):343-50.

[2] Curr Neuropharmacol. 2012 Jun;10(2):167-78.

[3] Cephalalgia. 1995 Apr;15(2):136-9; discussion 79.

[4] Cephalalgia. 1994 Jun;14(3):205-9.

[5] Cephalalgia. 2005 Jun;25(6):403-11.

[6] Neurology. 2004 Aug 24;63(4):757.

[7] Zh Nevrol Psikhiatr Im S S Korsakova. 2011;111(9):32-6.

Originally published in 2014, this blog has been updated.

  • I am in fact thankful to the holder of this web page who has shared this fantastic article at here.

  • Angela M.

    I suffer so many days of the month with these migraines ..I often take melatonin to fall asleep..but not consistently..I will have to try that.. Thank you for this article

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  • Super excited to try Melatonin for my migraines, especially since most of mine are hormonal.

  • MaryLou B.

    I also take Butterbur at the first sign of getting a migraine..wks in minutes, with no side affects after. Bought at health food store, wks great!, will also try melatonin for prevention of migraines.

  • I have been having migraines for about 30 years. I have tried just about everything including melatonin but not on a daily basis. I found a product that has melatonin, passion flower and a few other ingredients. I have been taking for little over a month. My migraines are gradually getting better which is awesome for me. I have daily headaches and this past week I have had 4 days of no headache at all. I say headache but am talking about migraine. bad migraine. I was using ambien to help me sleep when the pain was disrupting which was often. I am not using ambien anymore. I am still expecting to have migraines but I am feeling so much better. The product I am using has 3mg and I take at night , about an hour before bed. I sleep great and wake up with no headache, a miracle for me! Thank you for this article!

  • After finding information about the possible application of melatonin for migraine prevention I talked to my headache specialist and we agreed to try it. I shortly went from having 15 or more migraine days per month to having 2-3 days per month. I have been using the melatonin for over a year and a half now. In the recent few months my migraines have begun increasing again, so it’s time to revisit the specialist to see if we need to change things up, but the past year and change was a relief.

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