If you’ve tried a lot of migraine medications or other therapies without much success, you might talk to your doctor about using gabapentin for migraine. While it might not be the right solution as a primary medication, it could be added to your arsenal along with other medications and tools like migraine glasses.
Often known for its brand names Horizant, Neurontin, or Gralise, Gabapentin (GBT) is an anticonvulsant drug, but it’s sometimes used for migraine and headache prevention. Its original use is for seizure prevention for patients with epilepsy, or to alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms of shingles.
Gabapentin and Migraine Prevention
The theory behind using Gabapentin for migraine is that since it’s an anticonvulsant, it can calm nerve impulses which could help avert migraine headaches. However, researchers don’t fully understand Gabapentin’s exact role in migraine prevention, and more research is needed to determine what makes it work.
Gabapentin may also ease the brain’s electrical activities by settling excitatory neurotransmitters and blocking calcium channels.
Gabapentin isn’t usually prescribed as a primary migraine preventative. It’s typically added to work in conjunction with other therapies, or used when other medications haven’t worked for the patient. As a preventative measure rather than an acute treatment, gabapentin needs to be taken continuously.
Gabapentin for Migraines Is an “Off-Label” Use
When a drug is used for something other than its purpose previously approved by the FDA, it’s called an off-label use. Since the FDA regulates the approval and testing of drugs (and not how doctors choose to prescribe them), your doctor is allowed to prescribe gabapentin for migraine attacks if it seems like the right solution.
Dosing Gabapentin for Migraine
The dosage for gabapentin for migraine ranges between 300 mg to 3,600 mg. However, as a migraine preventative, your dose may depend on your overall health, age, and other conditions. Gabapentin comes in an oral solution, immediate-release tablet, or extended-release tablet.
If your doctor prescribes gabapentin, be careful to take only the recommended amount. Also talk to your doctor about how to wean off of it, should it become necessary to stop taking gabapentin.
What the Research Says
The research behind gabapentin for migraine is a bit mixed, but does show some promise.
The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) released a statement in 2013 which said there was insufficient evidence supporting gabapentin for migraine prophylaxis.
In 2014, a study conducted on gabapentin for episodic migraine found that some other antiepileptic drugs could be considered first-line migraine preventatives, but found inadequate evidence to recommend gabapentin for migraine prevention, saying it’s, “not effective and commonly causes adverse effects.”
A 2016 study of gabapentin for headache disorders did reveal some benefit. However, researchers stopped short of recommending it as a primary migraine therapy.
Side Effects of Gabapentin
LIke many other FDA-approved drugs, gabapentin could have side effects for many patients. Those include:
- Swelling of feet or limbs
- Unexpected or atypical eye movements
- Loss of coordination
- Blurry vision or other vision changes
Better Options for Migraine Prevention
There are plenty of migraine preventative drugs on the market which you can discuss with your doctor.
And as you probably know, living a healthy lifestyle could also help you reduce the migraine attacks you have to endure. Getting plenty of sleep, a healthy diet, and physical activity are all important.
Then there's Axon Optics with Avulux® Migraine and Light Sensitivity lenses. They work by absorbing up to 97% of the harmful blue, amber, and red light while allowing more than 70% of the soothing green light in. They have been shown to help 90% of users.
Discuss your migraine prevention and treatment options with your doctor to find a combination of tools that are safe and effective for you.