Single Dose of Aspirin Effective in Relieving Migraine Pain

A single 1000-mg dose of aspirin is an effective treatment of acute migraine headaches for more than half of people who take it, and the addition of 10 mg of metoclopramide (Reglan) may reduce nausea, according to the findings of a literature review published by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Here are the details from MedScape:

“Aspirin plus metoclopramide would seem to be a good first-line therapy for acute migraine attacks in this population,” write Varo Kirthi, MD, and colleagues, with the Pain Research and the Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics at the John Radcliffe Hospital, in Oxford, United Kingdom.

The researchers selected 13 studies, including 4222 participants, that were randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, or active-controlled; evaluated the use of aspirin to treat a single migraine headache episode; and included at least 10 participants per treatment group.

In addition, studies compared aspirin 900 mg or 1000 mg (alone or in combination) and metoclopramide 10 mg vs placebo or other active comparators (typically sumatriptan 50 mg or 100 mg).

Compared with placebo, aspirin reduced associated symptoms of nausea, vomiting, photophobia, and phonophobia.

A single 1000-mg dose of aspirin reduced pain from moderate or severe to no pain by 2 hours in 24% of people vs 11% taking placebo.

Severe or moderate pain was reduced to no worse than mild pain by 2 hours in 52% taking aspirin vs 32% taking placebo.

Headache relief at 2 hours was sustained for 24 hours more often with aspirin vs placebo.

In addition, metoclopramide, when combined with aspirin, significantly reduced nausea (P < .00006) and vomiting (P = .002) vs aspirin alone, although it had minimal effect on pain.

Fewer participants taking aspirin needed rescue medication vs those taking placebo.

Adverse events were reported more often with aspirin vs placebo but were mostly mild and transient.

The review also found that aspirin alone was comparable to the prescription medication sumatriptan 50 mg for 2-hour pain-free relief and headache relief, whereas sumatriptan 100 mg was superior to aspirin plus metoclopramide for 2-hour pain-free, but not headache, relief; no data comparing sumatriptan with aspirin for 24-hour headache relief were available.

“Aspirin plus metoclopramide will be a reasonable therapy for acute migraine attacks, but for many it will be insufficiently effective,” noted study author R. Andrew Moore, DSc, in a written release.

“We are presently working on reviews of other OTC [over-the-counter] medicines for migraines, to provide consumers with the best available evidence on treatments that don’t need a prescription,” he said.

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2 Responses to Single Dose of Aspirin Effective in Relieving Migraine Pain

  1. Shelley Conroy says:

    Dear Dr. Walt,
    I recently experienced my first classic acute cluster headache. None of my migraine meds did anything at all for it and my BP spiked to 154/93. It really scared me and was terribly painful. Had to go to the ER for rule out aneurysm. After all the tests and meds in the ER, I went home and slept for 24 hours. That was on a weekend. I went in to see my primary care on Monday who told me it was a classic cluster headache. He has me trying 5 mg of valium at bedtime. I have fioricet and phenergan if needed.
    That was 2 weeks ago and I still have some vague remnants and nausea periodically. Am managing best with staying on my NSAID (Lodine). Could not get a neuro appt for evaluation until June 28th!
    Any new advances for cluster headaches? This is all new to me!

  2. Dr. Walt says:


    SO sorry to hear this news. Hope you find help quickly. Here are three sources I trust with excellent information on cluster headaches: Family Doctor, WebMD, and Mayo Clinic. All the best.


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