Aspirin plus Reglan shows promise as migraine treatment

A combination of aspirin and the anti-nausea medication metoclopramide, marketed as Reglan, may help patients with migraines find relief from headaches and vomiting within two hours, according to data from 13 clinical trials in which patients published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Patients in the clinical trials were randomly assigned to treat their migraines with either a single dose of 900 to 1,000 milligrams of aspirin, a placebo, or an active drug, usually the prescription migraine drug sumatriptan. Researchers found that 52 percent of aspirin users got at least some pain relief – or a reduction of pain from moderate or severe to “no worse than mild” – within two hours. Only 32 percent of patients taking a placebo found relief in that time. Twenty-five percent of aspirin users reported being pain free within two hours, compared to only 11 percent of placebo users. Forty-six percent of patients who used aspirin plus 10 milligrams of metoclopramide got relief from vomiting within two hours, compared with none of those given a placebo.

Aspirin plus metoclopramide was about equally as effective in treating symptoms as a 50-milligram dose of sumatriptan, however a 100-milligram dose of sumatriptan was found to be more effective, with 28 percent of sumatriptan users reporting they were pain-free within two hours after taking the drug.

While aspirin with metoclopramide may spell relief for some, it can be dangerous if used too often. Metoclopramide is often prescribed for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders such as GERD and gastroparesis. Long-term use of the drug – considered 12 weeks or longer – has been liked to reports of a serious movement disorder known as Tardive Dyskinesia.