Migraine Term of the Day: Barbiturate

Patient Expert
Medically Reviewed
Health Central

Writer’s note: Some of you have expressed an interest in learning more of the medical terminology that comes up when discussing Migraine disease and other headache disorders. So, we’ll be posting a “term of the day,” on a regular basis.

When we’re given Migraine and headache information, whether from our doctor, a book, or an online article, we sometimes come across medical terms that can be confusing. While it’s easy enough to substitute another word or a short phrase for the medical term, there are times when substituting doesn’t quite convey the same meaning.

Barbiturate is one of those terms. We sometimes see it used when talking about Migraine medications, so it’s an important term for patients with Migraine to understand.


A barbiturate is a medication derived from barbituric acid that is used as a sedative, hypnotic, or antispasmodic.

Here’s an example of how it’s used in a sentence:

Research has shown that any use of barbiturates increases the risk of episodic Migraine progressing to chronic Migraine and makes it more difficult to bring chronic Migraine back to episodic. Therefore, the use of barbiturates by people with Migraine should be minimal. Medications such as Fiorinal and Fioricet, which contain the barbiturate butalbital are sometimes used as Migraine rescue treatments, but should not be first-line acute treatments.


Merriam-Webster Online Medical Dictionary, barbiturate.

See more helpful articles:

Migraine Medical Terms Glossary

Are Fioricet Tablets Considered Narcotics?

Migraine Arsenal Essentials: Rescue Treatment