February 10

The role of magnesium in migraine management


Migraine and Magnesium

If you're a migrainer chances are you've heard about magnesium and how it can be helpful for migraines. And if you haven't heard about how magnesium can be helpful for migraine or maybe you just got your diagnosis no worries I'm going to tell you all about it in this blog.

But if you’ve been in the migraine world a while  I know you don't want to hear yet another person say to you “ why don't you just try magnesium I heard that can help migraines”. And that's not what this blog is about. In this blog I want to tell you a bit more about the why and the how behind magnesium and why it might be helpful for you.

 When it comes to my work with migraineurs and other people dealing with chronic health conditions I don't want to just tell you what to do I want to tell you why and how so that you're empowered to understand your own body  so you can make more informed decisions for you and your own health.

 So let's get into the science. 

Magnesium is effective for migraine

So when we look at the research there is quite compelling evidence that supplementing with magnesium can be really effective for reducing the frequency severity and duration of migraines.

One study published in the Journal of Headache and Pain found that daily supplementation with magnesium was effective in reducing the number of migraines in adults. The study involved over 400 participants with migraines, who were given either magnesium oxide or a placebo for 12 weeks. The results showed that the group receiving magnesium supplementation experienced a significant reduction in the number of migraines compared to the placebo group.

Another study published in the journal Cephalalgia also supports the use of magnesium for migraine treatment. This study found that intravenous magnesium was effective in reducing the severity and duration of migraines in emergency department patients.

magnesium for migraine

How does it work?

Magnesium and the regulation of pain

The mechanisms by which magnesium may affect migraine are still not fully understood. However, research has suggested that magnesium may play a role in calming the nervous system. Its suggested that magnesium also plays a role in the regulation of neurotransmitters, including serotonin and norepinephrine, which are involved in the regulation of pain. 

Magnesium may also affect the function of ion channels in the brain. Ion channels play a crucial role in nociception, which is the process of detecting and transmitting pain signals in the nervous system. This is one of the primary ways that pain signals from the environment get sent to the brain and interpreted as pain. Think bright lights or a difficult conversation with your spouse triggering a migraine. This is your nervous system responding to stimuli and interpreting it as harmful. When it does that it releases inflammatory and pain processes and boom you have a migraine! Thanks nervous system…but magnesium can help to calm this response! Pretty cool. 

magnesium for migraine

Magnesium Deficiency and Migraine

Whats interesting is that some studies looking at the connection between migraine and magnesium have found that people who have migraine actually have lower levels of magnesium in their blood compared to people who do not get migraines!

Some studies suggest this is because migraineurs naturally use up more magnesium than non migraineurs, leading to deficiency. Which then causes extra stress on the nervous system and makes it more prone to send inappropriate pain signals. 

In some cases there is a link between gut health, magnesium deficiency and migraine. There is a massive connection between gut health and migraine and gut healing is often a focus on my work with my clients. Studies have seen that there are significant correlations between increased gut health issues and migraine. For example if you’re experiencing gut health issues, there is a high likelihood that you may malabsorbe magnesium which which lead to deficiency (among other nutrients). 

However, keep in mind there are outliners when it comes to everything. Not every single migraineur will be deficient. And it wont help every single one.

What to expect

As is the case with many preventative migraine strategies, many will move the needle forward (cause some improvement). That doesn’t mean that taking magnesium will eliminate all your migraines. Or that if you take magnesium you should be migraine free. For some people, taking magnesium was their missing link and did get them to migraine freedom. For most people however it maybe reduced their migraine intensity, duration or frequency.

One last word of caution. In some cases, high doses of magnesium can cause side effects, such as diarrhea and stomach cramps. This is especially true if you are taking magnesium citrate. Magnesium threonate shows promise in its role for supporting migraines as it has a particular affinity for improving brain levels of magnesium. Magnesium bisglycinate can be helpful if you are prone to loose stool form other forms of magnesium as this one has less muscle relaxant effects. I personally prefer magnesium citrate as I really enjoy the muscle relaxant effects of magnesium citrate. I find it helps me sleep better, helps me to not grind my teeth at night, which also helps my nervous system. I just make sure I find my upper limit threshold before I experience any of the unpleasant effects. This list is not exclusive, there are many other forms of magnesium and everyone will be different so finding the type that is right for you is important. 


Please note that the information contained in this blog is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information provided here is for educational purposes only and should not be used to make decisions about your health. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet, lifestyle, or treatment plan. This blog is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical conditions and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment. The author and publisher of this blog do not assume any responsibility for any loss, injury, or damage incurred as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the information contained in this blog. If you have any health concerns or medical conditions, please consult with a healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet, lifestyle, or treatment plan.


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