Efficacy of Gabapentin for Migraine Relief

Woman with Migraine Massaging Her Temples
Medically reviewed by Dr. Mavra Farrukh

Key Takeaways

  1. Gabapentin, an off-label prescription for migraines, offers potential relief with diverse formulations despite conflicting scientific evidence.
  2. Personalized dosages, ranging from 300 to 3,600 mg, underscore the importance of cautious use, with side effects like vision changes and ataxia requiring attention.
  3. While evidence suggests modest benefits, Gabapentin’s role in preventing migraines remains supplementary, necessitating ongoing use and further research for comprehensive understanding.


Tired of waking up with migraines every morning? Doctors are prescribing an unconventional solution, Gabapentin – an anti-seizure medication that healthcare providers sometimes prescribe off-label to break the cycle. Available in forms like Neurontin, Gralise, Horizant, and Neuraptine, this versatile drug, initially designed for epilepsy, may hold the key to preventing those morning migraines. Despite conflicting scientific evidence regarding its efficacy, it is believed to hold the potential to prevent migraine pain. Available in capsule, tablet, and solution forms, Gabapentin is administered orally, reinforcing its role as a supplementary measure in the diverse toolkit of migraine management.

How does gabapentin work for migraine?

Gabapentin’s role in migraine prevention is not yet fully understood. Believed to influence brain electrical activity by modulating neurotransmitters and blocking calcium channels, it may also reduce excitatory neurotransmitters like glutamate. However, the exact rationale behind its effectiveness necessitates further comprehensive research.

In migraine management, Gabapentin assumes a supplementary role rather than serving as the primary therapy. It is integrated into treatment plans to support other therapeutic measures. It is imperative to distinguish medications designed for the prevention of migraine attacks from those intended for acute relief. Gabapentin, as a preventive measure, requires consistent, ongoing use to manifest its effectiveness properly.

Suffering from Migraine? Get a prescription for Gabapentin with Your Doctors Online.

How much gabapentin should I take for migraines?

Determining the appropriate gabapentin dosage for migraines involves considerations of age and individual health factors, ranging from 300 to 3,600 milligrams (mg) per day. This flexibility underscores the importance of personalized medical guidance in establishing an effective treatment regime per your specific needs.

Gabapentin for migraine prevention offers versatility in its administration, available in extended-release tablets, immediate-release tablets, or an oral solution. Individual preferences and lifestyle considerations can influence the choice of form and whether to take it with or without food.

While gabapentin presents a promising option, it is crucial to be aware of potential side effects, including changes in vision, unusual eye movements, ataxia (loss of coordination), and swelling in the limbs or feet. Adherence to your doctor’s prescribed dosage and guidance on any necessary tapering off of the medication is paramount. It is imperative never to exceed the recommended dosage, even if a dose is missed, emphasizing the importance of a cautious and regulated approach to medication management.

How effective is gabapentin for migraines?

Assessing the effectiveness of gabapentin for migraine prevention involves an in-depth interpretation of clinical trial results. While some results showed a modest benefit, it’s crucial to consider the comprehensive perspective provided by organizations such as the American Academy of Neurology (ANN).

As of 2013, the AAN, a leading authority on migraine prevention, expressed reservations, citing insufficient evidence of gabapentin’s effectiveness in treating migraine. However, recent data has highlighted its potential role, particularly when other preventive therapies have proven ineffective or as an adjunct treatment. A noteworthy 2016 study indicated favorable outcomes for gabapentin in addressing headaches with syndromes. 

How long does it take gabapentin to work for migraines?

Typically, it takes about one week for Neurontin (gabapentin) to kick in. But here’s the thing—it might take up to a month to feel the full effects. So, don’t worry if you don’t see immediate changes. About those side effects, sleepiness and dizziness are the usual suspects. The good news? They often get better as your body gets used to the medication. If you have any concerns, your doctor is the best person to chat with.

Suffering from Migraine? Get a prescription for Gabapentin with Your Doctors Online.

How long can you stay on gabapentin?

Considering how long you can stay on gabapentin? Well, it depends on why you’re taking it. If it’s for epilepsy and your condition is in check, you might find yourself continuing with gabapentin for many years. On the other hand, if it’s for nerve pain and the pain has subsided, the journey might extend for several months or even longer to prevent a comeback.

However, it’s essential to be mindful of potential considerations. Gabapentin, while effective, is not without side effects. Prolonged use has been associated with respiratory depression, especially when combined. with other central nervous system depressants. Additionally, there’s the possibility of developing physiologic dependence and experiencing withdrawal symptoms like sweating, anxiety, confusion, and, albeit rarely, seizures upon cessation. As always, it’s wise to maintain open communication with your healthcare provider to navigate the duration of gabapentin use for your specific needs and circumstances.

What are the best medications for severe migraines?

When it comes to tackling severe migraines, triptans take center stage. Prescription medications like sumatriptan (Imitrex, Tosymra) and rizatriptan (Maxalt, Maxalt-MLT) work by blocking pain pathways in the brain. Available in various forms—pills, shots, or nasal sprays—these drugs prove effective in alleviating a range of migraine symptoms. 

As an anticonvulsant, its role in migraine prevention involves calming nerve impulses, potentially averting migraine headaches. Yet, the exact mechanism of Gabapentin in this context remains unclear, urging researchers to dive deeper for a comprehensive understanding of what makes it effective. 

Consult a doctor

If you’re currently facing migraine attacks or your existing treatments aren’t yielding results, it’s advisable to consult your doctor regarding migraine prevention options. Considering your medical history, your doctor is best positioned to collaborate with you to devise a customized treatment plan that aligns with your needs.

While the potential use of gabapentin in an off-label capacity may be considered, your doctor is likely to initially suggest commonly prescribed migraine prevention drugs, especially if you haven’t attempted them before. 

Suffering from Migraine? Get a prescription for Gabapentin with Your Doctors Online.

Other FAQs about Gabapentin and Migraine

Who should not take gabapentin?

Certain individuals should refrain from taking gabapentin, including those who have a history of misusing or being addicted to medication. If you are attempting to conceive, already pregnant, or adhering to a controlled sodium or potassium diet, or if your kidneys are not functioning optimally, it is crucial to consult with your doctor before considering gabapentin. The liquid form of gabapentin contains sodium and potassium, necessitating careful evaluation in these specific circumstances.

What is the number one side effect of gabapentin?

The most notable side effects associated with gabapentin encompass vision changes, dizziness, drowsiness, and difficulty thinking. It is important to assess your response to the medication before engaging in activities requiring alertness, coordination, or cognitive abilities, such as driving or operating machinery.

Does gabapentin cause weight gain?

While weight gain is a recognized side effect of gabapentin, it is relatively uncommon. Studies indicate that a small percentage of individuals using gabapentin for epilepsy and postherpetic neuralgia may experience a modest weight gain of approximately 5 pounds after six weeks of use. It’s essential to monitor any changes in weight and consult with your healthcare provider if you have concerns about this potential side effect.

Your Doctors Online uses high-quality and trustworthy sources to ensure content accuracy and reliability. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and medical associations to provide up-to-date and evidence-based information to the users.

Gabapentin for Migraines: How Does It Help? (healthline.com)

Efficacy of gabapentin in migraine prophylaxis – PubMed (nih.gov)

Gabapentin for the Prophylaxis of Episodic Migraine in Adults | AAFP

Can Gabapentin Prevent Migraines? (verywellhealth.com)

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