Expert Answer: Can magnesium deficiency cause migraine disease?

I like to distinguish a “cause “from a “trigger.“ We are far from understanding all of the causes of migraine, but likely most are genetically based and therefore something we inherit. What we inherit is a low threshold for the development of a migraine.

Some people with migraine have low levels of magnesium in their brains. Should this be the case, their brains become more “irritable” and a migraine attack is more easily triggered. Unfortunately, testing the blood for levels of magnesium is not helpful, since the blood levels do not reflect the amount of magnesium in the brain.

Therefore, it is often recommended to treat this deficiency, even if we are not certain that it is a problem. You cannot take large doses of magnesium and treat it quickly, or diarrhea will occur, as when you take milk of magnesia. Therefore you need to take low doses and it will make more than 3 months of treatment to determine whether this is useful in reducing the migraines.

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Comments

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  • Vonnie Bell
    7 years ago

    There are better ways to get magnesium into your system, that won’t have very uncomfortable side effects. Soak your feet in Epsom salts for up to an hour, with warm water. The feet have many more nerve endings which allows the magnesium to enter your system through your skin, to the nerve endings, and it will also relax you as well. There is also a liquid spray that you can buy to spray on your feet (works best on feet), or other parts of the body, just read the instructions. For me paying very close attention to my triggers and staying clear of them. Smells like perfumes or bacon, any smoked meat. It really helps to know all about you. Your particular triggers. You may have some that are the same as others, but you will also have some that are unique to you. They also change, what you could eat last year and be fine you might not be able to anymore, so you cut that out as well. You will feel like all the good stuff is out. But if you find a diet that works for you, you’ll blink and forget the last time you had a severe migraine. Good luck to you all!

  • Annemiek Poppe-Wirtz
    7 years ago

    I don’t like cowmilk so I take calcium-magnesium tablets every day. after doing this for several months I feel the migraine is a bit less. and yogha helps to relax the muscles in my neck.

  • Tina Maroon
    7 years ago

    In the winter I seem to have a lot more headaches which seem to be from my neck but when I get to many then I get the IV Infusion Therapy of Magnesium 1000mg, Zofran 8mg, and Robaxin 1000mg. That combo seems to work for me.

  • Tina Maroon
    7 years ago

    Magnesium has been recommended to me too for the migraines. I haven’t used it yet. I do get the botox every three months which decreases the migraines by 50% and takes away the muscle pain in the neck at 100%. I use the zomig Nasal Spray5mg at the time of a headache and within 10-15min the headache is gone but then in an hour I am extremely sleepy for about 2hrs. But I will gladly take that over the headache.

  • Patrick Hearne
    7 years ago

    I don’t remember where I first saw this connection referenced, but I added a magnesium supplement and it has helped in several ways. My mood improved, the clarity of mind between migraines felt better, and the severity of each attack seemed reduced. I didn’t see a change in frequency of attacks though.

    I had a very serious reaction as warned here when I first tried it because I started on 500mg of magnesium. Don’t do that! I would start at 125mg or 250mg at the most then scale up after a couple weeks if you don’t see any problems. I stayed at 250mg just to avoid the side effects and think it’s worth taking. Every migraineur is a little different though. I’d say don’t take it if you don’t see any change after a month if it doesn’t help because we don’t need any added factors in our ongoing diagnosis.

  • DeAnna TreVizo
    7 years ago

    Why do you think that taking Magnesium gives me a migraine ever time? Am I allergic?

  • Susan Cleveland
    7 years ago

    A lot of times, it’s the inert ingredients or binding agents that can trigger a migraine. That’s why when I added magnesium to my diet, I did so in foods that are high in it naturally.

  • Alejandra Cavanillas
    7 years ago

    Hi…migraine sufferer for 45 years…in the vitamins side I was told to try magnesium, high dosis of folic acid (deplin) and B2vitamin…can you give me your opinion about this and the dose of each?

  • Azar Heravi
    7 years ago

    hi doctor I have migraine from 2 years ago but it is more time now please guide me thank you.

  • Dora Traynor
    8 years ago

    What is considered a low dose dose Dr. Green? I take a multi-vitamin daily and would like to add magnesium.

  • Dr. Alex Mauskop
    8 years ago

    Dr. Green is right in that it could take up to 3 months to see the benefit of magnesium supplementation, although in some people it occurs within a week or two. However, some never benefit, even if they one of almost half of migraine sufferers who are deficient in magnesium. This happens because they cannot absorb magnesium taken orally. Getting a monthly intravenous injection is a good alternative. Other symptoms that strongly suggest magnesium deficiency include cold hands and feet, leg or foot muscle cramps, and PMS. As Dr. Green pointed out, regular blood test for magnesium (serum level) is unreliable, but checking RBC magnesium level is somewhat more accurate.

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