Migraine Meds & Weight Loss

A migraine is a severe headache that can last several hours to several days. According to Medical News Today, migraines are often preceded by a warning sign such as light flashes, blind spots, tingling in the extremities, nausea, and sensitivity to light or sound 1. Migraines occur when blood vessels expand and nerve fibers attached to the vessels release chemicals. One side effect of some migraine medications is weight loss.

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Topiramate, sold as Topamax and Topiragen, helps control epileptic seizures and can prevent migraines in adults, according to the Mayo Clinic. Topamax is only available with a doctor’s prescription. One of the less common side effects of taking topiramate is weight loss. According to a 2005 article in "Doc News," a journal affiliated with the American Diabetes Association, the exact reason why people have been losing weight while on Topamax has not been determined, but it is theorized that the medication reduces the ability to taste and causes a reduction in certain hormones linked to appetite control.


In a 2004 study published in the journal "MedGenMed," researchers studied patients on topiramate for three months. Out of 134 patients, more than 61 percent experienced a reduction in migraine frequency and more than 78 percent lost weight. According to the study author, Abouch Krymchantowski, director of the Headache Center of Rio, Department of Neurology, Universidade Federal Fluminense, in Brazil, topiramate is a much-preferred alternative to older migraine medications like beta-blockers and antidepressants, which caused patients to gain weight. According to Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturers of Topamax, the amount of weight loss associated with taking topiramate depends on your dosage.

A previous study sponsored by the drug’s manufacturer, from 2003, found that patients taking Topamax reduced their body weight by up to 4 percent while patients on different migraine medications gained up to 40 lbs.


Timolol is another drug commonly prescribed to migraine patients. Brand name drugs containing timolol include Betimol, Istalo and Timoptic Ocudose. The Mayo Clinic reports that one of the uncommon side effects of taking timolol is weight loss. Timolol is a prescription beta-blocker used for treating pressure in the eye. According to the journal "American Family Physician," sufficient evidence suggests that the beta-blocker can be used as a first-line defense for migraine prevention.

Migraine Medications

While topiramate seems to be a promising drug in many ways, its main function is to prevent a migraine, not stop a migraine in its tracks. According to "The New York Times," beta-blockers, typically used for treating high blood pressure, are helpful in reducing migraine frequency and decreasing the severity when migraines occur. For years, antidepressants like amitriptyline have been used as the first line of defense for migraine prevention and can help patients with insomnia. Newer antidepressants like Prozac are not producing the same migraine-prevention results. Preventive medications must be taken every day in order to work. According to the Mayo Clinic, people who have two or more debilitating migraines a month should consider taking a preventive medication, which are used to reduce frequency, severity and length of the attack. These drugs may even increase the effectiveness of medications prescribed to relieve symptoms.