Friday, 20 May 2016

Melatonin Superior to a Drug in Migraine Prevention

Migraine disorder is a debilitating, chronic neurological condition that affects between one in eight and one in five of the world's population. Despite this, it is estimated that half of patients stop seeking conventional care for their migraines, because of the side effects of pharmaceuticals such as amitriptyline. These can range from neurological symptoms, such as unusual thoughts or behaviour; gastrointestinal, such as vomiting or constipation; or genitourinal such as impotence. Fortunately, a randomised clinical trial investigating the effects of melatonin, a hormone produced by our pituitary glands, points to this hormone as a likely effective alternative. Previously I have mentioned that melatonin may keep telomeres at a more youthful length; these are the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes which guard the DNA and allow cell division, and are therefore important in keeping biological aging away.

Melatonin release can be stimulated by darkness. Source: Hakon Dahle
A total of 178 patients experiencing migraines, with or without an aura, completed this study, where they were assigned to receive either 3mg of melatonin, 25mg of amitriptyline or a placebo. Melatonin was chosen because people who suffer from migraines are more likely to have low levels of the hormone. After three months of treatment, the number of migraine headache days dropped by 2.7 in the melatonin group, 2.1 in the amitriptyline group, and 1.1 in the placebo group, all from an average of around 7.5. Both melatonin and amitriptyline reduced the duration and intensity of migraine attacks, as well as the number of analgesics taken. However, while 39.1% of those taking amitriptyline experienced a greater than 50% reduction in migraine frequency, this figure was 54.4% in the melatonin group. The melatonin group also experienced fewer side effects, including less daytime sleepiness, which surprised me because melatonin is known as the "sleep hormone". Melatonin may also bring many side-benefits as opposed to side-effects, as it can stabilise cell membranes; reduce inflammation; modulate the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, GABA and glutamate; and fight oxidative damage. Unfortunately, it may cause trouble in those taking opioid painkillers, and patients with diabetes or hypertension may also need to be monitored as it can reduce blood pressure and blood sugar. With careful monitoring, I would say that diabetic patients should look into it, as it does reduce inflammation and convert harmful white fat to the more beneficial brown fat, but seeing a qualified naturopath along with your doctor is necessary for a full consultation (I can't see you through the screen). Molecular doses of melatonin are not available in my state, only homeopathic doses (which may do something entirely different, such as in the case of bryonia extract vs homeopathic bryonia), and of course the nutritional cofactors. Hopefully I will be able to find others willing to fight for greater health freedom.

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