For nearly a century, aspirin has been used to treat migraine and other headaches. It has several actions that make it useful for treating migraine. First, it is an analgesic or pain reliever. Secondly, it blocks or reduces inflammation. This action is controlled in the body in part by a series of chemicals called prostaglandin. Aspirin blocks the ability of the body to manufacture these compounds. Thirdly, it reduces the ability of platelets to aggregate or stick together. The aggregation of platelets is important as it serves as the first step in the body’s ability to stop bleeding. It also plays a role in migraine attacks and other processes. In migraine, platelets aggregate, causing them to release serotonin into the blood stream, which eventually leads to the vascular actions and other effects of migraine.
In migraine preventive therapy, aspirin has been tried several times with some benefit. Previous studies used large amounts of aspirin in order to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. Several years ago, a study was conducted among physicians to determine if low doses of aspirin would help reduce heart attacks. An additional finding of this study was a 10% reduction in the frequency of migraine attacks among male physicians taking low-dose aspirin.
Your doctor may recommend daily aspirin to reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke. These daily doses of aspirin vary from 81 mg (baby aspirin) to 325 mg. Buffered or coated aspirin may reduce stomach irritation but the risk of bleeding in the stomach or brain does exist. Only use daily aspirin under a doctor’s care.