Propranolol for Migraines: How Long to Start Working?

Summary: Propranolol is used for the prevention of migraines – not treating them. It does take some time (usually weeks) for it to start working. It depends on the dose being used and how well the patient is tolerating the medication.

Dear Curtis: I’ve been taking propranolol for my migraines. I’ve taken other things before without real good success so my doctor suggested I try this as a preventative thing rather than as something to take only after I’ve gotten a migraine. But how long do you realistically think it will be before I’ll start seeing some positive effects from the propranolol?

Before I touch on how long it’s going to take let me make a couple of points about propranolol.

Dosage:
A lot of the success of propranolol in the prevention of migraines hinges on the dosage of propranolol you are taking.

Side Effects:
One of the downsides of the propranolol is that it – and the beta blocker class of drugs in general – can cause side effects. Some people are more prone to experience side effects than other folks.

Realistic Timeline

But, if you get the dose right and if you tolerate the medication OK I think it’s completely realistic to see a decrease in the number and frequency of migraines that you are getting as early as 4 weeks. Maybe up to six weeks.

I realize this is a broad range but, as I said above, every patient responds differently to drugs.