Namenda Migraine Treatment

It’s time to take a look at what’s new with Namenda migraine treatment.  Namenda is actually just one brand name for memantine.  It’s also sold as Axura, Akatinol, Ebixa and Memox.

Namenda is commonly used for Alzheimer patients, but is being tested for a number of other neurological disorders.

Technically known as a moderate affinity NMDA-receptor antagonist.  In Alzheimer patients, excessive glutamate inhibits the normal sending of messages in the body.  This drug blocks the effects of the excessive glutamate.

Namenda is being investigated for migraine, chronic tension-type headache, and various kinds of pain.

In one sense the news so far hasn’t been overwhelming.  However, memantine may bring improvement to patients that are having difficulty finding other medications that work for them (Bigal, Rapoport, Sheftell, Tepper, Tepper 2008).

In Namenda treatment for migraine, small studies have shown some improvement in migraine patients who have significant disability and a significant number of attacks each month.  The dosage is usually 10-20mg per day.  Some studies saw over a 50% reduction in attacks (Krusz, Cammarata, 2005).

Namenda migraine treatment shows promise, but it’s still lacking the large, double blind trials that can really show us how well it works (and who it works best for).

I should also mention that there is some indication that Namenda may help with chronic tension-type headache.  The results haven’t been as promising as with Namenda migraine treatments, but patients have seen a reduction in pain intensity, and some have seen a reduction in attacks (Lindelof, Bendtesn 2009)

Again, these are very small studies.  But researchers are hopeful that memantine will be a good addition to migraine treatment, especially migraine that has been harder to treat in certain people.  Since tension-type headache and cognitive problems often go along with migraine, there may be certain patients that see significant improvement with Namenda.

An interesting side note on the study of memantine is new light on the differences between men and women when it comes to migraine.  Read more about Namenda, Migraine and cortical spreading depression

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18 comments… add one
  • Patricia Mar 23, 2009

    This article is interesting because I have migraines (24/7 without meds) and take Namenda 5mg for ms related memory loss.

    I see that the study is using 10-20mg. Taking Namenda 5mg does not help my migraines and taking a higher dose causes balance problems.

    I will be watching for news about this study. If it is a huge success, I may want to revisit my Namenda treatment options with my ms doctor.

  • deborah Mar 23, 2009

    Hey, James; I have been on Namenda for three years with significant results. Now I’m fighting with my insurance company to keep the medication, (for the past year) due to “off-label” and non marketed use. It amazes me how the insurance industry has such a hold over my physician’s prescribing the medication, and it actually keeping migraine at bay.

    The way my doc looks at it; “I guess they prefer to pay many thousands of dollars with you in a hospital, than to keep you out of the hospital on a medication that works. They will lose. We will keep trying.”

    I am fortunate to have a wonderful doctor who is willing to fight for me, who has seen me suffer through horrible migraine, and will not give up. Yet it still kills me how the insurance industry struggles to keep us down. We have been going at this for over a year!

    Due to many medication allergies and failures, I’m pretty limited to what I can take. I’ve tried several other preventatives, but this has by far been the most significant to my regimen.

    Thanks for your post.

  • Betsy Mar 25, 2009

    Hi, James!

    Thought I would share my Namenda experience, too. I took it for just about six months last year, and although the side effects were less severe or bothersome than other preventives I’ve tried, I still didn’t like it much.

    However, it did cut the number of migraine attacks I was having by about one-half, which was enough to seemingly break my chronic attack cycle from taking too many abortive drugs. I wish I could say that it helped my memory or cognitive abilities, but not so. 🙂

    I’m on no preventives now (I do take supplements and have made lots of lifestyle changes) and still trying to control all factors enough to have less than 8 Imitrex treatment days per month. After nearly 40 years, just maybe I have learned enough to control somewhat and better manage my migraines. OR — I am old enough and hormone-changed enough that it would be happening anyway!!!

    In any case, for me Namenda was successful to a specific extent and purpose. Thank you!

  • James Apr 10, 2009

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. Patricia, this may be something for you to revisit. But for all of us I hope this will continue to shed more light on exactly what is happening in a migraine attack – that may lead to new and better treatments.

    Deborah, it is too bad that it has to be such a fight with the insurance companies! Sometimes it seems like these big organizations want to tell us what’s best for us. Trouble is, migraine is still such an individual disease.

    Betsy, thanks for sharing your experiences too. It’s interesting to hear someone who has had some success breaking the “chronic cycle” with Namenda migraine treatment. I hope others can share their stories too.

  • Patricia Jun 2, 2009

    I am reporting back after visiting my ms doctor. She has taken me off Namenda as she recently read Namenda can actually make memory worse for ms patients. She put me on Aricept instead.

  • Btesy Jun 2, 2009

    Hmmm… interesting to hear — I didn’t feel it helped my memory or cognitive abilities, either, and felt like I had sort of a foggy brain all the time on Namenda, even though that’s not supposed to happen.

    I hope the Aricept works for you, Patricia, and are you taking it for memory or migraine, or both?

  • Patricia Jun 3, 2009

    I was hoping to continue taking Namenda for two reasons (migraine and memory) but my doctor took me off Namenda. Namenda did cause me to feel like I was living inside a wobby fish bowl so I’m glad to be rid of that feeling.

    Out of curiosity I tried to find the article my doctor found in the Neurology magazine. I was unable to access the magazine but in the process I uncovered other unsettling news. Medicines for headache pain (Aleve and others) can cause memory loss.

  • Jodi Rothman Jul 7, 2010

    Has anyone ever tried to get off Namenda? I’m trying just because I want to get off some of my medications for migraine and after just being tapered off 5 mg am having terrible migraines. I take 5mg in morning at 5 mg at night. I haven’t even tried to get off the 5 mg at night yet, and my migraines after being off for about 10 days are at a 4 (out of 5) I don’t know if it’s because I need the Namenda or because I’m going through detox. Anyone?

  • Betsy Jul 11, 2010

    Hi, Jodi!
    Yes, I tapered off the Namenda in the same manner I gradually worked up to the dose I was taking, just backward. I didn’t have any problem going off it, but if your migraines are worse taking less, then maybe it was/is helping you(?). Have you asked your doctor yet about going off it? I did not experience more migraine attacks while tapering off it. Hope this helps but of course everyone’s experiences with this stuff are different…
    Best wishes!

  • Beth Gentry Jan 21, 2011

    My mother has just been diagnosed with Alzheimers, and was taking Aricept…but started having migraines…so her doctor took her off the Aricept and she will be starting on Namenda next week. I am concerned…does anyone have an opinion as to the effectiveness of this drug for the Alzheimers. We believe she is in the mild stages of Alzheimers…and want to get her on some type of medication right away, but she is very much against taking anything that gives her migraines. Any help?

  • Betsy Jan 21, 2011

    Hi, Beth! Sorry I don’t have much knowledge re Namenda and Alzheimer’s. I’m sorry to hear that your mother developed migraines with the Aricept.

    The little bit of reading I’ve done about Namenda and Alzheimer’s is that many times people are prescribed both Namenda and Aricept. And I have read that either is most effective if started early, so hopefully they (or one) will help your mother. Anyway I don’t have any personal experience with either drug and Alzheimer’s but I wish you well!

  • Jodi Rothman Jan 21, 2011

    HI. This is Jodi Rothman again. Betsy – thanks for sharing your thoughts on tapering off. I am at my 3rd try to taper off. Still just taking the night ones but it has been a tough month. Today was the first day I felt better. I’m hoping my body just needs to adjust cause I really want to get off of it.

    As to Beth – I can’t speak of what it does for Alzheimer patients, but if your mom is worried about migraines, I can say this. After trying to get off of it 3 times I feel it really does help relieve migraine pain. I hope that helps. Good luck.

    • Betsy Jan 22, 2011

      Hi, Jodi! Are you going off Namenda because of side effects, or are you wanting to try and treat your migraines without meds? Would staying on a low dose be harmful for you?

  • Eileen Bradley Mar 9, 2011

    Hi, thanks for sharing about Namenda. I am taking it for migraine and it has helped somewhat as I am not doing as many Imitrex injections right now but still have daily headache. I am on 5mg in the am and can’t seem to do the other dose in the evening as it gives me foggy head and diarrhea. They also put me on anti-inflammatory meds- toradol injections(occasionally) and naproxen which helped me tremendously but upset my stomach that I have had to discontinue ): I will be able to start them again once my tummy is better with prilosec. Anyway thought I would share.

  • Betsy Mar 10, 2011

    Hi, Eileen!

    Glad to hear your migraines are at least a little bit better. So even though you still have daily migraines, does this mean they are less severe or bothersome because of the Namenda?

    It makes me feel a bit better to hear you say it makes you foggy headed if you take the second dose because that’s how I felt and supposedly it’s not supposed to have that effect… go figure.

    I hope you continue to improve!

  • Eileen Bradley Mar 10, 2011

    Hi Betsy,
    My daily headaches are bothersome, they are somewhere between 3-5 on the pain scale. I normally do not do injections unless the 5 headache is getting worse. Seems like the Namenda is keeping the monster headaches at bay. I did have to do an injection yesterday and maybe another today…..we will see. Thanks for checking in I appreciate it.

  • Arlene May 7, 2012

    I’ve been on Namenda/ Zonagran combination for a little over 2 months now and It seems to have helped control my daily migraines. I was taking imitrex daily and am down to almost 1/2 that but my mind doesn’t feel as clear, I feel exhausted and non motivated. The best word I can think of to describe this is “befuddled”. Not happy with this feeling. Either way…not sure if I want to continue down this path as my mind seems to drift at inopportune moments. Any ideas.

  • Cheryl Aug 23, 2013

    I just started namenda 3 days ago. I am on the titration pack and am starting on 7 mg. I felt a little queasy last night and tonight I threw up. My headaches are already markedly better, just not so much my stomach. I have daily migraines and am actually going to “retire” soon because I just can’t make a whole day anymore. I have tried tons of other things and none have helped or the side effects have been to rough for me. I am going to Mayo in November but am hoping this may do the trick. Anyone else experience upset stomach on this? Do you adjust after a while?

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