Glucosamine for migraine prophylaxis?

Med Hypotheses. 2000 Sep;55(3):195-8. doi: 10.1054/mehy.1999.1012.


Following a fortuitous observation that migraine headaches ceased in a patient receiving glucosamine therapy for osteoarthritis, a further ten patients with migraine or migraine-like vascular headaches, refractory to established preventive or abortive therapies, have been treated with daily oral glucosamine. After a lag of 4-6 weeks, a substantial reduction in headache frequency and/or intensity has been noted; in some cases, the benefit appears to be dose-dependent. Since glucosamine can be a rate-limiting precursor for mucopolysaccharide synthesis, it is germane to note previous reports that heparin and pentosan polysulfate may have migraine-preventive activity. There is reason to suspect that mast cells are central mediators of the neurogenic inflammation associated with migraine and cluster headaches. The heparin produced by mast cells may function to provide feedback down-regulation of mast cell activation, and exerts a range of other anti-inflammatory effects. We postulate that supplemental glucosamine can boost mast cell heparin synthesis - perhaps correcting a functional heparin deficiency - thereby preventing or ameliorating the neurogenic inflammation that mediates pain in vascular headache. Whether or not this idea has validity, a controlled study of glucosamine for migraine prophylaxis appears to be warranted.

MeSH terms

  • Glucosamine / pharmacology
  • Glucosamine / therapeutic use*
  • Heparin / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Mast Cells / drug effects
  • Mast Cells / physiology
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy*


  • Heparin
  • Glucosamine