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Low Vitamin D Levels Associated with Headaches

2013 April 28 by

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Swedish study

Headaches occur more frequently in people who live at higher latitudes. The theory has been proposed that lower levels of vitamin D from reduced sun exposure at these locations may be the cause. A study was undertaken in Sweden to investigate the relationship between vitamin D blood levels and frequency of headaches.

Almost 13,000 study participants completed a questionnaire regarding the frequency, duration, and intensity of headaches. Their vitamin D blood levels were also tested. Results showed that those participants with low vitamin D levels reported significantly more non-migraine headaches. This association proved true when the possible confounding factors of physical exercise and alcohol consumption were considered Migraine headaches did not show any association with vitamin D status.

Treatment of headaches

Certainly on the basis of this study anyone who has headaches should ensure that their vitamin D status is adequate (a blood level of 50-100 ng/ml). This usually requires a supplement of 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day for adults and 2,000 IU per day for children.

Other excellent programs that prevent and treat recurrent headaches include acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and neurotransmitter evaluation and support with targeted nutritional supplements. Adequate sleep and stress reduction techniques are also important components of a holistic approach to managing headaches.

Reference

Kjærgaard , M, Eggen AE, Mathiesen EB, Jorde R. Association Between Headache and Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D; the Tromsø Study: Tromsø 6. Headache 2012; 52:1499.

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Melatonin Treats Migraine Headaches

2013 April 4 by

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A recent study showed that melatonin is an effective treatment for migraine headaches.

The study

Study participants had a history of 2 to 8 migraines per month. They were divided into three groups, those taking 3 mg of melatonin, 25 mg of amityptyline (an antidepressant drug commonly used to prevent migraines), and placebo. The melatonin group had better results than either of the other two groups. The criteria for improvement included less headaches per month, reduced migraine intensity and duration, and reduced use of pain killers.

Melatonin not only resulted in fewer headaches, but also less side effects and less daytime sleepiness than the antidepressant. A common side effect of amitriptyline is weight gain, and melatonin was associated with weight loss in this study.

Dosage

The proper dosage for melatonin is 3 mg at night between 10:00 and 11:00 PM, mimicking the body’s natural rhythm of melatonin production. Use a fast-acting as opposed to a time-released form of melatonin.

Holistic treatment

Melatonin is a safe component of a holistic treatment plan for managing migraines. Another supplement, butterbur, has also shown effectiveness in clinical studies of migraine. Take 50- 100 mg of PA-free butterbur twice/day. Other components of an integrated plan include acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and correction of other neurotransmitter imbalances besides melatonin.

It is also useful to identify things that trigger migraines. These can include stress, certain foods, and food additives. Alcohol, chocolate, and nitrates in processed meats are common triggers that many people notice. Other triggers may include aspartame, soy products, ripe cheeses, and red wine. Maintaining a healthy exercise program and controlling weight have also been shown to reduce the pain level and frequency of migraines. 

Reference

American Academy of Neurology 65th Annual Meeting. Abstract S40.005. Present March 20, 2012.

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