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Did You Know? Magnesium and Migraines

26 September 2016 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

Topical Magnesium May Help with your Migraine Symptoms

For those who experience migraine headaches, the pain can be debilitating, often taking the individual days to recover from the pain and symptoms. However, an often overlooked deficiency in magnesium can be a big contributing factor. Magnesium deficiency may play a role in the sequence of events that trigger the onset of a migraine. A very recent study looked at the serum concentration levels of magnesium between healthy individuals and those with migraine headaches during the migraine attacks and between attacks. These researchers found that the serum level of magnesium is an independent factor for migraine headaches. They found that patients who experience migraines had a lower serum levels of magnesium during the migraine attacks, and between the attacks compared with healthy individuals.1

Dr Carolyn Dean, author of the book The Magnesium Miracle2 , Revised and Updated Edition listed several of the  biochemical events involving low magnesium, which have been identified in migraine sufferers, and may set the stage for a migraine attack.

  • In non-menopausal women, estrogen rises before the period, causing a shift of blood magnesium into bone and muscles. As a result, magnesium levels in the brain are lowered.
  • When magnesium is low, it is unable to do its job to counteract the clotting action calcium exerts on the blood. Micro blood clots are thought to clog up the brain’s tiny blood vessels, leading to migraines. Several other substances that help create blood clots are increased when magnesium is too low.
  • Low brain magnesium promotes neurotransmitter hyperactivity and nerve excitation that can lead to headaches.

Dr Dean discusses the mechanisms by which magnesium works with migraine headaches. Magnesium helps by relaxing blood vessels so they are allowed to dilate. This reduces the spasms and constrictions that can lead to a migraine headache. Magnesium also regulates the action of brain neurotransmitters and inflammatory substances, and inhibits excess platelet aggregation, thus preventing the formation of tiny clots that can block the blood vessels. Magnesium also helps to relax the muscles, preventing the buildup of lactic acid which contributes to pain. It is suggested that magnesium plays a multifaceted role in the prevention of migraine headaches; That deficiencies in magnesium may play an important role in the pathogenesis of migraine headaches by promoting cortical spreading depression, alteration of neurotransmitter release and the hyperaggregation of platelets.3

Given this multifaceted role of magnesium in migraines, the use of magnesium in both acute and preventive headache treatment has been researched as a potentially simple, inexpensive, safe and well-tolerated option.3

Dr. Dean suggests topical magnesium as an excellent option to help increase magnesium levels in the body. ‘Magnesium oil can be rubbed on the body and is readily absorbed through the skin. It helps to greatly increase the amount of ionic magnesium in body tissues and to overcome the problem some people have with loose stools when they take regular magnesium supplements.’2

If you struggle with migraine headaches, supporting your magnesium levels through the use of topical magnesium, may be a great first step in the right direction!

  1. Assarzadegan F, Asgarzadeh S & Hatamabadi HR (2016). Serum concentration of magnesium as an independent risk factor in migraine attacks: a matched case-control study and review of the literature. International Clinical Psychopharmacology. Vol 31 (5). pp 287-92. DOI: 10.1097/YIC.0000000000000130 []
  2. Dean, Carolyn MD (2006) The Magnesium Miracle Revised and Updated Edition. New York, New York. Ballantine Books. [] []
  3. Edelstein S & Mauskop A (2009). Role of magnesium in the pathogenesis and treatment of migraine. Expert Rev Neurotherapy. Vol. 9(3): pp 369-79. doi: 10.1586/14737175.9.3.369. [] []

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