The influence of the pineal gland on migraine and cluster headaches and effects of treatment with picoTesla magnetic fields

Int J Neurosci. 1992 Nov-Dec;67(1-4):145-71. doi: 10.3109/00207459208994782.


For over half a century the generally accepted views on the pathogenesis of migraine were based on the theories of Harold Wolff implicating changes in cerebral vascular tone in the development of migraine. Recent studies, which are based on Leao's concept of spreading depression, favor primary neuronal injury with secondary involvement of the cerebral circulation. In contrast to migraine, the pathogenesis of cluster headache (CH) remains entirely elusive. Both migraine and CH are cyclical disorders which are characterised by spontaneous exacerbations and remissions, seasonal variability of symptoms, and a relationship to a variety of environmental trigger factors. CH in particular has a strong circadian and seasonal regularity. It is now well established that the pineal gland is an adaptive organ which maintains and regulates cerebral homeostasis by "fine tuning" biological rhythms through the mediation of melatonin. Since migraine and CH reflect abnormal adaptive responses to environmental influences resulting in heightened neurovascular reactivity, I propose that the pineal gland is a critical mediator in their pathogenesis. This novel hypothesis provides a framework for future research and development of new therapeutic modalities for these chronic headache syndromes. The successful treatment of a patient with an acute migraine attack with external magnetic fields, which acutely inhibit melatonin secretion in animals and humans, attests to the importance of the pineal gland in the pathogenesis of migraine headache.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Brain Diseases / therapy
  • Cluster Headache / physiopathology*
  • Cluster Headache / therapy
  • Electromagnetic Fields
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus / physiopathology
  • Magnetics / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Melatonin / blood
  • Melatonin / metabolism
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Migraine Disorders / therapy
  • Pineal Gland / physiopathology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Serotonin / physiology


  • Serotonin
  • Melatonin