A cluster headache (CH) is sharp pain on one side of the head. It is named from the grouping of headaches that happen. The pain can disturb sleep. It can also cause a stuffy nose and a droopy eyelid on the same side as the CH.
Standard care involves drugs and oxygen therapy. Surgery is sometimes used to change or kill a part of the facial nerve to stop the headaches.
Some people may seek natural therapies to treat or prevent CHs.
- Melatonin —may help to prevent headaches B1, B2
- Capsaicin —may reduce headache severity. Given by nose. (Note: It causes a burning feeling which may not be tolerated. May ease with repeated use.)A1, A2.
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution
Talk to your doctor about all herbs or supplements you are taking. Some may interact with your treatment plan or health conditions.
A1. Marks DR, Rapoport A, et al. A double-blind placebo-controlled trial of intranasal capsaicin for cluster headache. Cephalalgia. 1993 Apr;13(2):114-116.
A2. Fusco BM, Marabini S, Maggi CA, Fiore G, Geppetti P. Preventative effect of repeated nasal applications of capsaicin in cluster headache. Pain. 1994
B1. Leone M, D’Amico D, et al. Melatonin versus placebo in the prophylaxis of cluster headache: a double-blind pilot study with parallel groups. Cephalalgia. 1996 Nov;16(7):494-496.
B2. Pringsheim T, Magnou E, et al. Melatonin as adjunctive therapy in the prophylaxis of cluster headache: a pilot .study. Headache. 2002 Sep;42(8):787-792.
Last reviewed February 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board
Richard Glickman-Simon, MD
Last Updated: 2/22/2019