The Link Between Magnesium and Migraines
The Link Between Magnesium and Migraines
Migraines have been affecting lives since before Hippocrates first described the symptoms of one. He wrote down that he saw a shining light out of his right eye and experienced a sharp pain in his temples. Anyone who’s experienced a migraine before knows this feeling all too well and is likely searching for a way to relieve themselves from it.
In fact, migraines are the 3rd most widespread illness in the world and will affect nearly 12% of the entire population. In the United States alone, more than four million people will experience migraines on a daily basis -- or at least 15 times per month -- and it will affect women far more than anyone else.
While migraines have been around for thousands of years, we’ve learned a lot about them throughout history -- including how to relieve yourself from them and prevent them. One promising treatment is magnesium, a mineral that we consume on a daily basis. As important as this mineral is for migraines, nearly 75% of the population will struggle to get the recommended daily amount.
Since a magnesium deficiency could make your migraines worse -- or even be one of the causes of your migraines -- ensuring you get enough magnesium is essential, whether it’s through your diet or supplementation.
Now, you’re probably wondering what magnesium is, how it affects migraines, and how you can increase your daily intake of magnesium. Don’t worry, we’ll break it all down for you so you can start to find the relief you’ve been searching for!
What is Magnesium?
There are a total of 91 naturally-occurring elements located on the periodic table. Of those elements, 16 of them are minerals that are essential to the human body -- sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, phosphate, iron, manganese, copper, cobalt, zinc, selenium, chromium, molybdenum, iodine and fluoride.
(The list above doesn’t include oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur, which are found in proteins)
Of course, magnesium is the one we are interested in today. Magnesium is actually essential to a wide range of processes or functions in the body. It helps regulate blood pressure, the function of your nerves, maintain heart rhythm, and improve the health of your bones.
You’ll find several different types of magnesium on the back of ingredient labels, but some of the most common are:
- Magnesium Citrate - this type of magnesium is easily utilized by the body and will stimulate your bowel movements.
- Magnesium Chloride- another type of magnesium that is easily utilized by the body.
- Magnesium Sulfate - not only is this type hard to utilize in the body, but it’s also inorganic.
- Magnesium Carbonate - will contain more magnesium, but won’t settle too well in the stomach.
- Magnesium Oxide - the most prominent form of magnesium that is easy to find, contains high amounts, and is commonly taken for migraines.
Now that we understand a little bit more about magnesium, it’s time to discover what migraines are and how they can negatively affect the quality of life we all fight so hard to maintain.
If you’ve ever experienced a headache, then you understand how it can affect your ability to focus and be happy. It’s distracting, annoying, and always seems to come at the wrong time. A migraine, on the other hand, is much worse than a headache.
Migraines will often be accompanied by an extreme sensitivity to light and a throbbing sensation on either side of your head. They could last an hour or they could last several days, but they’ll be near-unbearable no matter what.
There are four main stages to a migraine and we’ll discuss them below:
- Prodrome - generally occurs 1 or 2 days before the migraine. Signs of this stage include stiffness, mood changes, heightened thirst, frequent yawning, and constipation.
- Aura - generally occurs before or during a migraine. Signs of this stage include flashes of light, bright spots, tingling in the face or sides, trouble with speech, hearing things that aren’t there, and loss of vision.
- Attack - generally lasts anywhere from 4 hours to 3 days. Includes pain on the sides of the head and sensitivity to light.
- Post-drome - the aftermath of the migraine. Victims will generally feel confused, dizzy, and drained for the rest of the day.
As far as what can cause these terrible symptoms, it will largely depend on the person. Migraines could be onset by changes in your sleep routine, alcoholic drinks, stress, hormonal changes, changes in the weather, certain foods, sexual activity, and certain medications.
Finding the Link Between Magnesium and Migraines
There have been multiple studies throughout recent history that support supplementing magnesium to treat migraines. In most of these studies, a common finding in those migraine patients are lower levels of magnesium in the body.
Not only has magnesium been shown to reduce the frequency of migraines, but it can help reduce the severity of them as well. In one study, the frequency of migraines was reduced by over 40% and it was extremely effective with menstrual-related migraines.
As we mentioned above, the most popular form of magnesium used to treat migraines is magnesium oxide. Commonly found in pill or capsule form, most studies recommend the use of 400-600 milligrams per day -- in addition to your normal eating habits.
Before you take magnesium, you should be aware of the possible side effects. In the study mentioned earlier, there was only one patient that dropped out of the study due to the side effects -- diarrhea -- which seems to be the most common side effect when supplementing with magnesium.