So how would you feel about taking an antibiotic for your headache? If you’d be uncomfortable with that, you’re not alone, and I’m proud of you. 🙂
But that’s no reason to ignore the small study that was done by Dr. Todd D. Rozen of the Michigan Headache and Neurological Institute. In the study he used Doxycycline to treat new daily persistent headache. Before we get to the results, a quick overview of Doxycycline itself.
Doxycycline is the generic ingredient in a whole host of brand name antibiotics, such as Adoxa, Doryx, Monodox, Periostat, and Vibramycin. These types of antibiotics work by interrupting the life cycle of the bacteria. It’s used for a number of different bacterial infections.
New daily persistent headache (NDPH) is one of the most treatment-resistant types of headache. In fact, the patients in this trial had already tried (unsuccessfully) 5 different preventive treatments. Interestingly, many patients get NDPH after an infection. And one theory is that a certain type of inflammation is behind NDPH.
That inflammation chain-reaction can also be stopped by Doxycycline, making it a candidate for treatment.
Only 4 patients were in the trial, but 2 became 100% pain free, 1 had an 80% improvement in daily pain intensity, and the last person had a slight improvement in pain intensity and a more than 50% decrease in severe pain episodes. On average, patients improved after 3 months (2 daily dosages of Doxycycline, 100mg). There was only one notable side effect – one patient got a severe sunburn (you have to be careful about your time in the sun when you’re on Doxycycline). These are very good results for something so difficult to treat!
So the results are pretty positive, and it probably wasn’t because of the antibiotic properties of Doxycycline at all. If these findings are confirmed by larger studies, it may show that our understanding of NDPH is on target. And it may open the door to better treatments.
Doxycycline itself may or may not be a good treatment. Obviously, we need to be cautious about taking antibiotics. Also, many medications, supplements and foods can decrease its effectiveness, so it needs to be taken properly under the care of a doctor.
This study was brought to my attention by the Headache News Blog.