Researchers say the drug gabapentin (Neurontin) taken at 2,400 milligrams a day is an effective preventive measure for people with chronic daily headaches.
Gabapentin is an approved anti-epileptic drug. Studies have also shown its success in treating other pain-related health issues like diabetic neuropathy, postherpetic neuralgia, and migraine headache. Since gabapentin often reduces migraines by more than 50 percent and chronic daily headaches often have migraine-like features, researchers in Australia conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled study to determine the drug's specific effect on chronic daily headaches. This type of study is the gold standard of clinical research studies where neither the researchers nor the participants know who received the drug or an identical dummy substance, called a placebo.
For the study researchers recruited 133 patients who had headaches at least 15 days every month that lasted more than four hours at a time. The patients were randomly selected to receive gabapentin or a placebo for six weeks. After that period, none of the patients received either treatment for a week, and then each group switched to the opposite treatment for a second six weeks.
Results showed 36 percent of the patients taking 2,400 milligrams of gabapentin a day stopped having chronic daily headaches. Negative effects of the drug included vomiting, dizziness, dysarthria (problems speaking), sleepiness, and constipation.