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Magnesium For Migraines And Headaches

Magnesium, an essential mineral that plays a vital role in various bodily functions, has increasingly drawn attention from scientific researchers and health professionals for its potential in managing migraines and headaches. Studies have revealed that people with frequent migraines often have lower magnesium levels than those without. This intriguing correlation suggests a possible therapeutic role of magnesium in these debilitating neurological conditions.

The association between magnesium deficiency and migraines was initially observed in the 20th century. Over time, various studies have corroborated this relationship. In fact, a meta-analysis by Chiu et al. in 2016 indicated that people suffering from migraines are more likely to have low serum and tissue levels of magnesium. These observations suggest a potentially significant role for magnesium in the pathophysiology of migraines and serve as the foundation for exploring magnesium supplementation as a treatment strategy.

Migraines are complex, and their cause is multifactorial. Factors such as genetics, hormonal changes, environmental triggers, and neurological irregularities all play a part. However, the connection to magnesium suggests that addressing a magnesium deficiency may potentially mitigate some of the causes and symptoms of migraines.

But the story doesn't end there. Magnesium's role in relieving migraines is not limited to addressing deficiencies. Emerging research suggests that even without an overt deficiency, supplemental magnesium may still offer relief to migraine sufferers, possibly by modulating various physiological processes.

Exploring the Role of Magnesium in Reducing Migraine Frequency and Severity

Scientific evidence points towards a potentially beneficial role of magnesium in reducing both the frequency and severity of migraine attacks. One double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in "Cephalalgia" found that individuals who took 600mg of magnesium daily for a period of 12 weeks experienced a significant reduction in the frequency of migraines compared to those who took a placebo.

The role of magnesium in modulating migraine severity is a bit more complex. While some studies have reported reduced severity of migraines with magnesium supplementation, others have found no such effect. This discrepancy may be due to various factors, such as differences in study design, dosage, form of magnesium used, and individual variability in response to magnesium supplementation.

Despite these differences, the overarching evidence supports using magnesium as an adjunct treatment for migraines. As a naturally occurring mineral that is generally safe and well-tolerated, it offers a promising option for people seeking to reduce their reliance on pharmaceutical treatments or those who are not well-served by them.

How Magnesium Regulates Neurotransmitters to Combat Migraines and Headaches

Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, many of which are crucial for neurological function. Therefore, it's not surprising that this mineral impacts migraines and headaches, which are fundamentally neurological disorders.

One of the key mechanisms by which magnesium may influence migraines is through its role in regulating neurotransmitters - the chemical messengers of the nervous system. Magnesium plays a pivotal role in maintaining the balance of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters. For instance, it inhibits N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, which are activated by an excitatory neurotransmitter called glutamate. Overactivation of NMDA receptors has been associated with migraines, suggesting that magnesium's role as an NMDA receptor antagonist may contribute to its migraine-relieving effects.

Magnesium also plays a role in controlling the release of the substance P, a neuropeptide involved in pain transmission. Elevated levels of substance P have been found in individuals during migraine attacks, and inhibiting its release may help alleviate migraine pain.

The Best Magnesium Supplements for Managing Migraines and Headaches

There are various forms of magnesium supplements available in the market, each with different levels of bioavailability, which refers to the amount of magnesium absorbed and utilized by the body. Magnesium citrate, and magnesium glycinate, are among the most commonly used forms for migraine management.

Magnesium citrate, a combination of magnesium and citric acid, has been shown to have high bioavailability and is easily absorbed by the body. Some studies have shown it to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines effectively.

Magnesium glycinate, on the other hand, is bound to the amino acid glycine. It's well-absorbed and less likely to cause diarrhea, a common side effect of magnesium supplementation. It is often recommended for those with difficulty tolerating other forms of magnesium.

It's crucial to note that the 'best' form of magnesium may vary from individual to individual, depending on factors such as personal tolerance, co-existing health conditions, and the specific nature of their migraines. Therefore, it's recommended to consult a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

Using Magnesium as a Safe and Effective Alternative to Medication for Migraines

With the growing interest in natural and complementary therapies, magnesium offers a promising alternative to traditional medications for migraines. Unlike many pharmaceuticals, magnesium is generally well-tolerated and has few side effects. The most common side effects, such as diarrhea and stomach upset, can often be managed by adjusting the dosage or switching to a different form of magnesium.

That being said, it's important to note that while magnesium can be effective, it may not completely eliminate migraines for everyone. In many cases, it may work best as part of a comprehensive approach that includes other therapies and lifestyle modifications. For some people, it may be most effective when used in conjunction with traditional migraine medications.

It's also crucial to remember that while magnesium is a natural substance, it can interact with certain medications, and high doses can cause serious side effects, such as irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, and confusion. Therefore, it's always recommended to consult a healthcare provider before starting magnesium supplementation.

Magnesium-Rich Foods: Incorporating a Headache-Relieving Diet into Your Lifestyle

While supplements can help increase magnesium levels, incorporating magnesium-rich foods into your daily diet is a holistic way of managing migraines. Many healthy foods are excellent sources of magnesium, such as green leafy vegetables (spinach and Swiss chard), legumes (black beans, chickpeas, and lentils), nuts and seeds (almonds, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds), whole grains (brown rice and quinoa), and dark chocolate.

In addition to providing magnesium, these foods offer a wide range of other essential nutrients that can contribute to overall health and well-being, which can indirectly help manage migraines. It's important to remember, though, that while a healthy diet can support overall health and may help manage migraines, it should not replace professional medical treatment for chronic or severe migraines.

Finding the Optimal Amount for Migraine Relief

Determining the right dosage of magnesium for migraine relief can be a tricky balancing act. Too little might not provide any benefit, while too much can lead to side effects like diarrhea, nausea, and in extreme cases, more serious health issues like irregular heartbeat and kidney problems. Most clinical trials investigating magnesium's effects on migraine have used doses between 400 and 600 milligrams per day, which is at the upper end of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adults. However, the optimal dose can vary significantly among individuals, depending on factors such as body weight, overall health status, and individual biochemistry.

It's crucial to start with a lower dose and gradually increase it while monitoring for any side effects. While magnesium is generally safe for most people, it can interact with certain medications and should be used with caution in individuals with kidney disease or other health conditions.

Before starting a magnesium supplement, it's always advisable to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the appropriate dosage and form. They can provide personalized advice based on a thorough understanding of your health history and current health status.

Magnesium and Stress: Unraveling the Connection and its Impact on Headaches

There is a well-established connection between stress and migraines. Stress is a common trigger for migraines, and migraines, in turn, can cause stress, creating a vicious cycle. Intriguingly, magnesium plays a significant role in the body's stress response, which may further underpin its potential role in managing migraines.

Magnesium helps regulate the body's response to stress by controlling the release of stress hormones and supporting the healthy function of the nervous system. When stressed, our bodies tend to excrete more magnesium through the urine, which can lead to a deficiency. Therefore, supplementing with magnesium during periods of high stress may help prevent migraines by counteracting this loss.

Furthermore, magnesium supports relaxation and sleep, both of which can be adversely affected by stress and migraines. By helping to reduce stress and promote better sleep, magnesium could indirectly help manage migraines.

How Magnesium Can Target Different Phases of a Migraine Attack

Migraine attacks often unfold in several phases, from the warning signs known as the "aura" phase to the headache itself, and then the postdrome phase, commonly referred to as the "migraine hangover". Intriguingly, magnesium may have a role to play in each of these phases.

The aura phase of migraines involves a phenomenon called cortical spreading depression (CSD), a wave of electrical activity followed by a period of inactivity. Magnesium, as a natural calcium channel blocker, may help prevent CSD, thereby reducing the occurrence of aura symptoms.

During the headache phase, magnesium may help by blocking NMDA receptors, thereby reducing the release of pain-causing chemicals. After the migraine, magnesium could aid recovery by promoting relaxation and better sleep.

Personal Experiences and Success Stories: Real-Life Testimonials on Using Magnesium for Migraines and Headaches
While research provides invaluable insight into the potential of magnesium for migraines, personal testimonials offer a unique, real-life perspective. Many people have reported significant reductions in migraine frequency and severity after starting magnesium supplements.

Take, for example, Sarah, a 35-year-old woman who had been suffering from migraines for over a decade. After starting a daily magnesium supplement, she noticed a dramatic decrease in the frequency of her migraines, from several times a week to just once a month.

James, a 50-year-old man, also found relief with magnesium. He reported that while his migraines didn't disappear completely, their severity was markedly reduced, making them much more manageable and less disruptive to his life.

Of course, individual experiences can vary widely, and what works for one person may not work for another. However, these success stories provide a hopeful testament to the potential of magnesium as a part of a comprehensive approach to migraine management. These stories serve as an encouragement for those struggling with migraines to consider exploring magnesium as a potential tool in their wellness toolkit.

In conclusion, understanding the multifaceted role of magnesium in migraines and headaches could provide a promising pathway toward improving the quality of life of those suffering from these debilitating conditions. The evidence, both from scientific studies and personal experiences, suggests that magnesium can be a vital component in a comprehensive approach to migraine management.

However, there are many factors to consider, such as the type of magnesium supplement, the dosage, and individual lifestyle and diet. Balancing these factors can be a complex task, and it's always recommended to seek professional advice when considering magnesium supplementation. Magnesium's potential benefits must be weighed against possible side effects or interactions with other treatments, highlighting the importance of a tailored approach based on individual needs and circumstances.

With the continued study of magnesium's role in neurological health, our understanding of how this essential mineral can combat migraines and headaches will continue to evolve, promising hope for a future with better options for managing these pervasive and disabling conditions.


This comprehensive article delves into the therapeutic role of magnesium in managing migraines and headaches. Magnesium, an essential mineral involved in numerous bodily functions, can potentially alleviate migraines by regulating neurotransmitters and influencing various physiological processes. It is observed that individuals with frequent migraines often exhibit lower levels of magnesium, suggesting the importance of this mineral in migraine management.

Different forms of magnesium supplements, namely magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate, and magnesium oxide, offer varying degrees of bioavailability, affecting their efficacy in mitigating migraines. The choice of supplement may depend on individual tolerance, existing health conditions, and specific migraine characteristics.

Magnesium presents a safe and effective alternative to traditional migraine medications, especially for those seeking to reduce reliance on pharmaceuticals. However, while generally well-tolerated, magnesium can interact with certain medications and cause side effects if taken excessively, making it crucial to consult with a healthcare provider before starting a regimen.

Incorporating magnesium-rich foods into the diet also offers a holistic approach to migraine management, alongside supplements. Determining the right magnesium dosage is a careful balancing act, taking into account factors like body weight, overall health status, and individual biochemistry.

Magnesium plays a significant role in the body's stress response, which can be a trigger for migraines. Furthermore, it could be beneficial in different phases of a migraine attack, from the aura phase to the postdrome phase. Numerous real-life testimonials attest to the positive impact of magnesium on migraine frequency and severity, indicating its potential in improving the quality of life for migraine sufferers.

While magnesium presents promising results in migraine management, it's important to balance its potential benefits against possible side effects or interactions with other treatments. It's always advisable to seek professional advice and adopt a tailored approach based on individual needs and circumstances when considering magnesium supplementation. With continued research, our understanding of magnesium's role in combating migraines and headaches will continue to evolve, offering hope for better management options.

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Ron Goedeke MD, BSc Hons MBChB, FNZCAM

Dr. Ron Goedeke, an expert in the domain of functional medicine, dedicates his practice to uncovering the root causes of health issues by focusing on nutrition and supplement-based healing and health optimisation strategies. An esteemed founding member of the New Zealand College of Appearance Medicine, Dr. Goedeke's professional journey has always been aligned with cutting-edge health concepts.

Having been actively involved with the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine since 1999, he brings over two decades of knowledge and experience in the field of anti-aging medicine, making him an eminent figure in this evolving realm of healthcare. Throughout his career, Dr. Goedeke has been steadfast in his commitment to leverage appropriate nutritional guidance and supplementation to encourage optimal health.

This has allowed him to ascend as one of the most trusted authorities in the arena of nutritional medicine in New Zealand. His expertise in the intricate relationship between diet, nutritional supplements, and overall health forms the backbone of his treatment approach, allowing patients to benefit from a balanced and sustainable pathway to improved wellbeing.

  • Understanding the Link: How Magnesium Can Help Alleviate Migraines and Headaches: Link
  • Unlocking the Benefits: Exploring the Role of Magnesium in Reducing Migraine Frequency and Severity: Link
  • The Science Behind It: How Magnesium Regulates Neurotransmitters to Combat Migraines and Headaches: Link
  • Magnesium-Rich Foods: Incorporating a Headache-Relieving Diet into Your Lifestyle: Link
  • Magnesium and Stress: Unraveling the Connection and its Impact on Headaches: Link
  • From Aura to Aftermath: How Magnesium Can Target Different Phases of a Migraine Attack: Link

Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns about your health. Never disregard or delay seeking medical advice because of something you have heard or read on this website.

Last updated on the 29th of May 2023

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