2013 April 4 by Dr. Randy
A recent study showed that melatonin is an effective treatment for migraine headaches.
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.
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.
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.
American Academy of Neurology 65th Annual Meeting. Abstract S40.005. Present March 20, 2012.
2013 February 1 by Dr. Randy
For people who have sleep problems there are several supplements that can be helpful. Falling asleep is a complicated mechanism requiring several coincident changes in brain chemicals. Both the initiation of sleep and the continuity of sleep depend upon a healthy balance of brain chemicals (neurotransmitters). It is possible to measure these with lab tests, and if there is an imbalance in neurotransmitters that is interfering with sleep, then this imbalance can often be corrected using natural supplements.
Specifically, in order to get to sleep and maintain a good night’s sleep, stimulating neurotransmitters like epinephrine and glutamate must turn off, and calming neurotransmitters like serotonin, GABA, and melatonin must turn on. Nutritional support can help to make that happen, and meditation or relaxation techniques can help facilitate sleep onset as well. Various supplements may help sleep in different individuals.
Supplements to improve sleep include melatonin, calcium with magnesium, taurine, 4-amino-3-phenylbutyric acid, 5 HTP, and theanine depending on the specific issues involved with the sleep problem.
An interesting finding that came out of two sleep studies evaluating the effect of melatonin on REM sleep duration revealed that the timing of these supplements may be important. Many doctors suggest taking supplements that assist sleep just before bed. These studies showed that melatonin was most effective in increasing REM sleep when taken around 10:00-11:00 PM. When melatonin was taken erratically or after 11:30 PM it counteracted the beneficial effects on sleep. The authors suggest that this disruption is due to melatonin’s effect on the body’s circadian rhythms. So the timing of supplementation may be just as important as the type of supplements themselves.
Kunz D, Mahlberg R, Müller C, Tilmann A, Bes F. Melatonin in patients with reduced REM sleep duration: two randomized controlled trials. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004 Jan;89(1):128-34.