Magnesium for the treatment of migraine headaches: an introduction

Magnesium is a mineral. It is important for the production of protein, the production and transport of energy, the function of some of the body’s enzymes, normal muscle operation, keeps bones strong, keeps the heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system and nerve function. Magnesium is the fourth most plentiful mineral in the human body. Half of the body’s Magnesium is in its bones, the rest is inside cells. About 1 percent of the body’s magnesium is in its blood.

Food containing Magnesium

  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Whole grains
  • Seeds
  • Hard tap water (water with a high mineral content)
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Soy products
  • Bananas
  • Dried apricots
  • Avocados

Magnesium to prevent migraines

Some research has shown low brain Magnesium levels during a migraine attack. Also, because Magnesium is needed for proper nerve function, it is thought that Magnesium deficiency and migraines may be related, making it an important vitamin for migraine auraand a natural remedy for migraines. Magnesium is also being studied to see how it can help prevent and better manage high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.


Studies on magnesium and Migraines

A 1996 study of 81 migraine sufferers compared the effects of 600 mg of Magnesium every day for 12 weeks with an inactive placebo dummy pill. Of those taking Magnesium, 18.6 percent had diarrhea and 4.7 percent complained of stomach irritation. Here are the results:

  • Reduction of migraine attacks from weeks nine to 12 : Magnesium 41.6% , Placebo 15.8%

Another study, also conducted in 1996, didn’t find any difference in patients given Magnesium compared to placebo and experienced twice as many mild side effects such as soft stools.

Formulations of Magnesium available

  • Powder
  • Capsule
  • Powder for Suspension
  • Liquid
  • Capsule, Liquid Filled
  • Syrup
  • Tablet
  • Tablet, Enteric Coated
  • Tablet, Extended Release
  • Packet
  • Injections

Magnesium injections are given only by or under the supervision of a health care professional. Some oral magnesium preparations are available only with a prescription. Others are sold over-the-counter.

Side effects and other precautions

The most common side effects of Magnesium, especially high doses of the mineral, include diarrhea and abdominal cramping.

People with kidney failure have a higher risk of problems from high doses of Magnesium because the kidney no longer removes the extra Magnesium.

Other side effects include:

  • Changes in mental status
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Appetite loss
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Extremely low blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat

You should seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following side effects:

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach upset
  • Stomach cramps
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Flushing of skin
  • Dizziness

Who should not take magnesium

Do not take Magnesium if you suffer from kidney failure.

Also, certain prescription and nonprescription drugs can cause interact with Magnesium.

Loop and thiazide diuretics, anti-neoplastic drugs and antibiotics may increase the amount of Magnesium lost in the urine and could lead to low levels of Magnesium.

Magnesium decreases the body’s absorption of tetracycline antibiotics.

People who frequently take antacids and laxatives that contain Magnesium may have high levels of Magnesium in the blood, leading to more side effects.

Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are:

  • Allergic to Magnesium or any other drugs
  • Taking any prescription or over-the-counter drugs, particularly those that contain Magnesium or tetracycline including: (Achromycin V, Panmycin, Sumycin), digoxin (Lanoxin), nitrofurantoin (Furadantin, Macrobid, Macrodantin), penicillamine (Cuprimine, Depen Titratable), and other vitamins
  • If you have or have ever had kidney disease, stomach problems, or intestinal disease
  • If you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking Magnesium call your doctor.

As always, the best source for advice on treating your migraines is your own migraine specialist. These descriptions of natural remedies are provided only for informational purposes. You should begin no medication or supplement without first checking with your physician. Again, this information should in no way substitute or be mistaken for medical advice.