Melatonin supplementation may lead to relief of frequent stabbing
headaches in three cases in a recent study. For example, in one
case, a woman had a reduction in the frequency of stabbing head
pains from two per day to none within 24 hours of starting
treatment with 9 mg of melatonin per day. Continuing to take
melatonin, she remained pain-free at a four-month follow-up.
Stabbing headaches, also known as “jab and jolts” or
“ice-pick headaches,” are stabs of sharp and severe
pain in any part of the head, usually lasting one second or less.
Each stabbing pain can be severe enough to cause momentary
disability. Stabbing headaches can occur up to 50 times in a day,
with episodes as infrequent as once or twice in a year or as
frequent as every day.
Indomethacin, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine, is the
only treatment known to prevent stabbing headaches; however, it
can cause serious adverse side effects, and people with kidney
disease or using blood-thinning medications are not able to take
Melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland (located in
the brain). In addition to regulating sleep rhythms and other
biorhythms associated with light and dark cycles, it has
anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Melatonin is used
to treat sleep disorders, and studies have suggested that it is
helpful in treating some cancers, cluster headaches, and
headaches associated with sleep disorders.
The three reported cases suggest that melatonin is a possible
treatment for frequent stabbing headaches, which could make it an
attractive alternative to indomethacin because it has few adverse
side effects. Taking melatonin at bedtime eliminates the concern
about drowsiness, a relatively common side effect of melatonin.
Melatonin is a powerful hormone. We recommend that you consult
with one of our physicians before taking melatonin for
headaches or any other health condition.
Source: Neurology, 2004;16:865-6