Magnesium for Migraines and Headaches: Does it Help?

Calm headaches and migraines with magnesium

Migraines and headaches can be debilitating. Days spent in dark rooms, not moving. Social events missed. Too many medications.

Migraine Causes

  • A confirmed cause of migraines continues to elude researchers and scientists, but many believe they are a result of sudden, dramatic changes in the blood vessels.   These ‘vascular changes’ are such that they interfere with the flow of blood and/or oxygen to the brain.
  • The triggers or causes of these changes to the blood vessels, or vascular change are as varied as the individuals who suffer from migraines.
  • A widely-held theory is that serotonin levels drop, causing inflammation and pain.  Because serotonin, also known as 5-HT or 5-HTP is also known to regulate mood and a general feeling of well-being, many prescription drugs for depression, designed to elevate serotonin levels,  may be prescribed for migraine sufferers.   Many patients are disappointed with the efficacy of these medications in reducing the frequency or severity of their migraines.

The Magnesium-Migraine Connection

Magnesium – when present in adequate amounts in the blood vessels – helps with the enzymatic conversion of tryptophan – the biochemical fore-runner to serotonin.  Magnesium therefore directly affects the amount of serotonin found in the blood. Not enough magnesium =  not enough serotonin.

Any migraine sufferer would do well to replenish their magnesium levels every day.

Other fascinating facts:

  • 66% of migraine sufferers have low magnesium
  • Magnesium helps reduce the frequency, intensity, and duration of migraines
  • Magnesium deficiency will cause irritation and inflammation in the smooth muscles around the neck and scalp
  • Magnesium acts as a natural blood thinner, helping prevent thickened blood and tiny clots that can cause blood vessel spasm and pain
  • Magnesium relaxes the blood vessels and allows them to dilate, reducing the spasms and constrictions that can cause migraines
  • Magnesium regulates the action of brain neurotransmitters (such as serotonin) and inflammatory substances, which may play a role in migraines when unbalanced
  • Magnesium relaxes muscles and prevents the buildup of lactic acid, which, along with muscle tension, can worsen head pain.

Research on the Magnesium-Migraine Link

In a 1996 published study, researchers gave 81 migraine sufferers either 600 milligrams of magnesium or a placebo pill once daily for three months. After four weeks, 42% of the group taking magnesium reported a reduction in the number of migraine occurrences.  As well, the duration of migraine drug use significantly decreased among people who took magnesium supplements.

20 years later, there is growing support in the physician community that some of the most severe cases of migraines may actually be directly related to an imbalance of key minerals such as magnesium and calcium.

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