Consider melatonin for migraine prevention

Author and Disclosure Information




An effective migraine prevention alternative with minimal adverse effects

Melatonin is an accessible and affordable option for preventing migraine headaches in chronic sufferers. The 3-mg dosing reduces headache frequency—both in terms of the number of migraine headache days per month and in terms of the percentage of patients with a >50% reduction in headache events—as well as headache intensity, with minimal adverse effects.


Product consistency, missing study data

This trial used 3-mg dosing, so it is not clear if other doses are also effective. In addition, because melatonin is available over-the-counter, the quality/actual doses may be less well regulated, and thus, there may be a lack of consistency between brands. Unlike clinical practice, neither the amitriptyline nor the melatonin dose was titrated according to patient response or adverse effects. As a result, we are not sure of the actual lowest effective dose, or if greater effect (with continued minimal adverse effects) could be achieved with higher doses.

Lastly, 69% to 75% of patients in the treatment groups completed the 16-week trial, but the authors of the study reported using 3 different analytic techniques to estimate missing data. The primary outcome included 178 of 196 randomized patients (90.8%). For the primary endpoint, the authors treated all missing data as non-headache days. It is unclear how these missing data would affect the outcome, although an analysis like this would tend towards a null effect.


Challenges are negligible

There are really no challenges to implementing this practice changer; melatonin is readily available over-the-counter and it is affordable.


The PURLs Surveillance System was supported in part by Grant Number UL1RR024999 from the National Center For Research Resources, a Clinical Translational Science Award to the University of Chicago. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Center For Research Resources or the National Institutes of Health.


Copyright © 2017. The Family Physicians Inquiries Network. All rights reserved.

Online-Only Materials

PDF icon JFP06605320_methodology324.59 KB

Next Article: