How effective are anticonvulsants for treating migraines?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Valproic acid and topiramate have been considered the top choices among anticonvulsants for reducing migraine frequency. Valproic acid reduces the number of migraines by about 4 per month. Topiramate reduces migraines by about 1 per month. More research is needed to know for sure if carbamazepine or gabapentin is effective. Most other anticonvulsants have not been found to reduce migraine frequency. 

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Anticonvulsants are moderately effective for lowering the frequency of migraines in people who suffer from frequent migraines. A large review study found that anticonvulsants reduced the frequency of migraines by about 1.3 migraine attacks per month. It also found that more than twice as many people taking anticonvulsants had at least a 50 percent reduction in migraine headaches compared to people taking a placebo.

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