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Migraines & headaches health centre


BMJ Group Medical Reference


This information is for adults who get migraines. It tells you about naratriptan, a treatment used for migraines. It is based on the best and most up-to-date research.

Does it work?

Yes. Naratriptan will help if you have a migraine attack. It helps as many as two-thirds of the people who take it. [51] It can also decrease your chances of needing to take other painkillers, and it can stop your headache coming back within 24 hours.

Naratriptan seems to have fewer side effects than similar drugs such as sumatriptan.

What is it?

Naratriptan is a type of drug known as a triptan. It works in a way that is similar to a chemical in your brain called serotonin. Like serotonin, naratriptan makes the blood vessels in your brain narrower. And this can stop your brain feeling the pain from an attack, at least partly.

The brand name is Naramig.

How can it help?

There is good evidence that naratriptan can help get rid of a migraine attack. [51] [41] [52]

  • Naratriptan can make a migraine attack better within two hours to four hours. It does this for as many as 2 in 3 people who take it. [51]

  • Even if your attack is very bad, naratriptan will probably make it milder and more manageable.

  • If you take naratriptan, your migraine attack is less likely to come back within 24 hours, and you may not need to take any other painkillers. Naratriptan can also help with other symptoms, including nausea and being extra-sensitive to lights or sounds.

  • The dose used in the studies was usually 2.5 milligrams.

If you've already tried sumatriptan and found that it didn't help, one study has suggested that naratriptan might work for you instead. [52]

A study looking at the triptans available in 2007 found that they all helped to get rid of the pain from a migraine within two hours, or make it much milder, compared with a dummy drug (a placebo). But only sumatriptan and rizatriptan worked better than a placebo drug within half an hour. [43]

How does it work?

Like other triptans, naratriptan acts like a chemical in your brain called serotonin. It binds to your cells at specific sites called serotonin receptors, rather like a key being put into a lock.

Naratriptan helps to treat migraine attacks in three main ways.

  • When you have an attack, the blood vessels in your brain open up (dilate). This means there is more blood flowing through them. Researchers think this is what causes the pain of attacks. Naratriptan corrects the changes in blood flow and makes the blood vessels narrower.

  • Secondly, it blocks nerves from releasing chemicals that cause blood vessels in your brain to open up.

  • Thirdly, it blocks the release of chemicals that carry pain messages between different parts of your brain.

All of these effects work together to help you feel better.

Last Updated: September 26, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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