Migraines are sort of like the sadistic cousin to that brutal Sunday-morning hangover: you feel nauseous, faint, a throbbing pain in your head, and sensitivity to light or sound. Except the migraine doesn’t leave after a few bottles of Gatorade and a day in bed watching Netflix; it haunts you like a vindictive ghost, exacting cruel revenge through recurring bouts of insufferable headaches.
So what do pharmaceutical companies do to help the 12-20% of the population afflicted by migraines? They hurl Amitriptyline at patients like a politician throwing empty promises at constituents.
Amitriptyline is a commonly prescribed drug used to treat a number of mental ailments from depression to migraines. In recent decades, it’s become the status quo drug for preventing and alleviating migraines. But we shouldn’t confuse the most common with the most beneficial.
The Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, & Psychiatry recently published a study demonstrating that melatonin, a hormone made in the pineal gland of the brain, is superior to Amitriptyline in reducing the frequency of migraine headaches.
The article, titled “Randomized Clinical Trial Comparing Melatonin 3mg, Amitriptyline 25mg, and Placebo for Migraine Prevention,” investigated whether Melatonin was a suitable alternative to Amitriptyline. In case you hadn’t figured it out by this article’s title, the answer is: yes, melatonin is better than Amitriptyline. Let’s take a look at why.
Evaluating the study’s results illustrates the contrast between Melatonin and Amitriptyline. The average headache frequency reduction was 2.7 days for test subjects in the melatonin group, 2.2 in the Amitriptyline group, and 1.1 in the placebo group.
Although the disparity is not glaring, it’s nonetheless an improvement. What’s more important, is that Melatonin was better tolerated than Amitriptyline, with Melatonin patients experiencing weight loss, while Amitriptyline patients experienced significant weight gain. Meaning, Melatonin’s good for your head and your hips.
Synthetic Versus Natural
What’s fascinating is that not only was Melatonin found to be more effective than Amitriptyline, but it did so at a lesser dosage (3mg versus 25mg). Add this to the fact that Melatonin is a natural compound produced by the human body, while Amitriptyline is a chemical synthetic toxin, and you have quite the compelling case.
Amitriptyline’s synthetic and unnatural qualities yield harmful consequences to patients. To consider the near-limitless number of possible side effects, just imagine those long infomercials where the list of dangerous side effects takes up three quarters of the entire advertisement and dwarfs the initial benefits of the product.
A simplified list of Amitriptyline’s harmful side effects include:
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
- Weight gain
- Trouble urinating.
Individuals suffering from recurring migraine attacks have often been diagnosed with a melatonin deficiency, which may help to explain a supplementary supply of Melatonin caused an ameliorative effect.
The study postulates that the efficiency of Melatonin may be attributed to one of its several properties: membrane stabilization, anti-inflammatory effects, inhibition of dopamine release, modulation of serotonin, gamma amino butyric acid and glutamate neurotransmission, scavenging toxic free radicals, and cerebrovascular regulation.
All these factors kind of make it a super hormone.
For certain patients, though, even Melatonin has drawbacks. It “potentiates opioid analgesia; therefore, it should be used with caution in patients taking and/or overusing opioids.”
In laymen terms, this means patients with diabetes or hypersensitive patients should be careful when taking Melatonin, because it may cause decreases in blood pressure and glucose levels. That said, it’s clearly still safer than conventional migraine drugs.
In an overall comparison between Melatonin and Amitriptyline, concluding remarks summarize that the lack of side effects, the efficacy, and the low cost, make Melatonin a viable alternative for patients with a preference for natural products. Further research is necessary to calculate correct dosages and applications of Melatonin, but the future is bright.
Boosting Melatonin Naturally
Young people typically have the highest Melatonin levels, and production rates slow down as we grow older. This may explain why your migraines worsen as you aged. While supplements are a good natural alternative to prescription drugs, they are really only designed to mimic and enhance the nutrients found in natural foods.
Let’s consider some foods that will naturally boost your melatonin levels.
The research concludes that pineapples, bananas, and oranges all increased Melatonin concentration substantially, with oats, sweet corn, rice, tomatoes, and barley enhancing it to a lesser degree. Pineapple is supposed to increase Melatonin levels by 266%, bananas by 180%, and oranges by 47%.
The solution to preventing those migraines isn’t in injecting your body with synthetic drugs, it’s to plan your diet and ensure that you’re receiving all of the nutrients your body needs, and only then to supplement your diet with auxiliary natural health products.