advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Prevent Migraines and Pare Pounds?

Can you tell me the name of the new migraine maintenance drug that has weight loss as the only side effect?

A
Answer (Published 5/9/2003)

The prescription drug topiramate (Topamax®) helps reduce migraine headaches in more than 50 percent of patients who have tried it. One of the side effects of the drug is modest weight loss, about 3.8 percent of body weight.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Your Whole Body - Foods, herbs and drugs can all interact, sometimes in unexpected ways. Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor takes known interactions into account when developing nutritional supplement recommendations, to help safeguard against adverse effects. Learn more, and get your free, personalized Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor recommendation today.

Topiramate is one of a new class of drugs called neuronal stabilizers, similar to the popular Neurontin® and is mainly used to treat epileptic seizures. However, results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study found last year that it also decreases the frequency of migraines. While weight loss may be a welcome consequence of taking topiramate, the drug can also cause less desirable side effects. Some migraine patients experienced nausea and tingling of the extremities. Depression, fatigue, and nervousness were also reported with higher doses. Other potential side effects include abdominal pain and tremors, and even weight gain in a few people. Because topiramate can increase the risk of kidney stones, its use needs to be closely monitored in patients with kidney disease.

When this drug is prescribed for migraine prevention, physicians typically begin with a low dose of about 15 mg daily and raise the dose weekly to a maximum of 200 mg daily, a lower dose than given for seizures. (Doses as low as 50 mg can be effective in preventing migraines.) Topiramate is one of a number of prescription medications used to prevent the frequency and severity of migraines. Alternatively, you can try these non-drug measures:

  • Eliminate coffee, decaf and all sources of caffeine.
  • Eliminate chocolate, red wine (sometimes white wine, too), strong-flavored cheeses, fermented foods (like soy sauce and miso), sardines, anchovies, and pickled herring.
  • Learn to raise the temperature of your hands via biofeedback. This relaxation technique can help abort a headache at the start of an attack.

In addition, you can ask your doctor about taking high doses of vitamin B-2 (riboflavin). A recent Belgian study found that 400 milligrams of B-2 daily (you'll need a prescription for that amount, though it appears to be quite safe) reduced the frequency and duration of migraines.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Related Topics

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here