Young man with strong migraine, isolated on white background

Testosterone and Migraines: Low Levels Appear to Be a Root Cause

Migraine headaches are excruciatingly painful.  Pre-migraine symptoms create fear and dread in victims.  Medications are very potent and often have limited success, which is why I have many natural, research-backed ideas on my Migraine Prevention page for those interested. There is also another interesting root cause theory out there: migraines have a strong hormonal component testosterone probably the key player. Below are some of the interesting lines of research evidence that this is indeed the case:

1. Dzugan’s Hormonal Migraine Cure. For anyone interested in anti-aging and hormones, Sergey Dzugan is one of the more fascinating researchers in my opinion.  His general methodology is to carefully restore testosterone, estradiol, progesterone, DHEA and pregnenalone to youthful levels.  This strategy has allowed him to document some amazing clinical successes, which he has published in various medical journals.  Dr. Dzugan tackled migraine headaches, using this hormone-restoring technique and his results have apparently been very good.  He has even published a book on the subject:  The Migraine Cure: How to Forever Banish the Curse of Migraines.

In my opinion, it is no wonder that restoring these hormones to youthful levels help so much:  they all have a profound and positive effect on the brain and migraine is, after all, a brain-centered medical issue. How many young men suffer from migraines?  Not many and so one can’t help but wonder if part of that can be explained by their (generally) ample hormones levels.

Of course, one potential issue with Dzugan’s approach is that we cannot tell which hormone or hormones is most responsible for improving migraines, since he modifies so many of them.  However, I believe the biggest gun is probably testosterone for reasons I describe below:

NOTE:  Cluster headaches, which are the only headaches considered by some experts to be often more painful than migraines, are also related according to significant research to hormones.  See my page Low Testosterone and Cluster Headaches for more information.

2.  Adiponectin.  If you look around the web, you can quickly find examples of men that have used TRT to improve their migraine pain severity or, in some cases, actually reverse the condition. The reason for this, interestingly enough, probably has to do with a hormone called adiponectin, which is primarily made in adipose (fat) tissue, and controls our all-important glucose and fatty acid metabolism. Because of this, adiponectin is a cardiovascular risk factor for developing arterial plaque. Now look at this recent research regarding adiponectin:

a) Adiponectin Controls the Severity of Migraines.  One recent study (in women) found that “found that in all 20 participants when levels of LMW [Low Molecular Weight Adiponectin] increased, the severity of pain decreased. When the ratio of HMW [Heavy Molecular Weight Adiponectin] to LMW molecules increased, the pain severity increased..” [3] Although this is a small study, they hit 100% accuracy using adiponectin-based markers to predict whether or not particpants would respond to migraine treatment.

Although this was a study in women, the adiponectin pathways work very similarly in men and this is, undoubtedly, one of the reasons that Dr. Dzugan’s method above is so successful.  In fact, researchers have even noted that adiponectin has a powerful inflence on a) inflammation, b) immunity andc) insulin sensitivity, all of which have been implicated in migraine. And researchers have even verified that adiponectin directly plays a role in pain pathways as well. [3][5]

b) Testosterone Therapy (in Low T Men) Lowers Adiponectin.  Adiponectin is almost entirely secreted from body fat (adipose) tissue.  Basically, if one gains weight from overeating and underactivity, adiponectin levels will increase.  That extra fat will also lower your testosterone levels.  See my page on Testosterone and Weight Loss.  So a common pattern is for overweight men to have lowered testosterone levels and increased adiponectin levels.  Obviously, weight loss should be ground zero for one’s efforts if applicable, and I think it is important to mention that, if you have 50 or more pounds of extra fat, you have a very good chance to double or even triple your testosterone levels through dieting.

That said, it is worth noting that a number of studies have shown that testosterone decreases adiponectin levels in low T men.  This has been verified in both animal and human studies.  Castrated animals, for example, immediately see their adiponectin levels rise.  And one study looked at normal and low testosterone men. As expected, they found adiponectin was significantly higher in the low T cohort. So they looked at what would happen if they put these men on testosterone therapy and the results were impressive:  the adiponectin levels of they hypogonadal men dropped to the levels of the normal testosterone men.

Did you know you can inexpensively do your own testing for most hormones? The industry leader is Discounted Labs..

CONCLUSION:  In men that are significantly overweight, losing the extra pounds will greatly lower adiponectin levels and increase testosterone levels.  This is, of course, the most natural method to use..  In men that are not overweight or for men with particularly severe migraines, testosterone and perhaps other hormonal therapies can drop adiponectin levels and improve and sometimes permanently cure migraine headaches.  Discuss with your doctor and read these pages for some background on HRT in men:  Risks, Rewards, Testing for Testosterone Therapy.

NOTE:  Spread the word to your wife or girlfriend suffering from migraines: there is now a study showing that restoring testosterone in women (using pellets) can dramatically help.  The researchers concluded that “improvement in headache severity was noted by 92% of patients and the mean level of improvement was statistically significant (3.3 on a 5 point scale)…Continuous testosterone was effective therapy in reducing the severity of migraine headaches in both pre- and post-menopausal women.”


1) Clin Endocrinol (Oxf), 2004 Apr, 60(4):500-7, “Serum adiponectin levels in hypogonadal males: influence of testosterone replacement therapy”

2) J Androl, 2005 Jan-Feb;26(1):85-92, “Testosterone administration suppresses adiponectin levels in men”


4) Maturitas,  2012 Apr, 71(4):385-8, “Testosterone pellet implants and migraine headaches: a pilot study”

5) Cephalalgia, 27(5):435 446, May 2007, “Migraine and adiponectin: is there a connection?”

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