Potential therapeutic use of melatonin in migraine and other headache disorders

Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2006 Apr;15(4):367-75. doi: 10.1517/13543784.15.4.367.


There is increasing evidence that headache disorders are connected with melatonin secretion and pineal function. Some headaches have a clearcut seasonal and circadian pattern, such as cluster and hypnic headaches. Melatonin levels have been found to be decreased in both migraine and cluster headaches. Melatonin mechanisms are related to headache pathophysiology in many ways, including its anti-inflammatory effect, toxic free radical scavenging, reduction of pro-inflammatory cytokine upregulation, nitric oxide synthase activity and dopamine release inhibition, membrane stabilisation, GABA and opioid analgesia potentitation, glutamate neurotoxicity protection, neurovascular regulation, 5-HT modulation and the similarity in chemical structure to indometacin. The treatment of headache disorders with melatonin and other chronobiotic agents, such as melatonin agonists (ramelteon and agomelatin), is promising and there is a great potential for their use in headache treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Headache Disorders / classification
  • Headache Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Headache Disorders / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Melatonin / metabolism
  • Melatonin / therapeutic use*
  • Migraine Disorders / classification
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy
  • Migraine Disorders / metabolism


  • Melatonin