Headaches, especially migraines can be absolutely crippling for sufferers, with many of us prepared to do pretty much anything to find a cure. However, new research are showing that if you suffer from migraines you are also very likely to be deficient in magnesium (1). In this article we are going to discuss magnesium for headaches, and explain how can you add magnesium to your diet.
Magnesium for Headaches: How Does it Help?
Headaches, and especially migraines are now known to have multiple causes rather than one specific trigger. The varying causes include the constriction of the brain’s blood vessel system, increased platelet activity and build up, over-stimulation of the brain’s neurotransmitters and nerve pathways, and abnormal functioning of the pain processing neurons in the brainstem at the base of the spine (2).
Magnesium Calms Nerves and Stops Headaches
For all of these potential causes, magnesium is very important in stopping them from developing. For example, if you take magnesium for headaches you can relax and improve the function of arteries and blood vessels (3). In addition, you’ll end up reducing blood pressure (4).
The main benefits of taking magnesium for headaches are:
- reducing stimulatory neurotransmitters in the brain
- calming nerves
- reducing platelets aggregation (clumping together of platelets in the blood)
Magnesium Reduces Cortisol Levels
Magnesium also reduces cortisol levels, and higher cortisol levels are associated with increased pain perception.
Magnesium acts directly on GABA receptors in the brain and central nervous system. GABA is the natural valium, and GABA receptors are what Valium and other tranquilizers (aka benzodiazepines) directly act on.
They are also directly related to how strongly we perceive pain, the more GABA receptors are activated the less we feel pain (5).
That means, that magnesium for headaches can act as a “painkiller” and it can prevent the things that cause headaches to develop in the first place. It can also reduce the amount of pain we feel if/when the headache occurs.
But What Does The Research On Humans Say?
There have been several studies that found magnesium supplementation to be effective in preventing migraines, and reducing the severity of migraines in children and adults (6, 7).
Is Taking Magnesium for Headaches Really That Effective?
Another study found that a 1 gram serving of magnesium gave quicker and more effective relief from migraine than a commonly used migraine medication (8).
Another study published in the Journal of Neural Transmission, titled “Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium”, found that with the potential results and the safety of magnesium supplementation everyone suffering for migraines should try magnesium supplementation, and then make a decision on whether to continue based on their own results (1).
What’s the Best Magnesium Supplement for Preventing Headaches and Migraines?
There are many different types of magnesium available, these different types of magnesium have different qualities and rates of absorption by the body.
Taking magnesium for headaches and adding magnesium to your diet, can be one of the first ways to fight stubborn migraines.
Magnesium-L-Threonate has been specially designed by scientists at MIT to be able to get through the blood-brain barrier, which is a semi-permeable protective membrane that separates the bloodstream from the fluid of the brain.
To be as effective against migraines as possible we need the magnesium in the brain, and other magnesium supplements struggle to get themselves absorbed through this barrier. However, specific studies on Magnesium-L-Threonate have shown that it’s very effective at passing the blood-brain barrier, and increases brain magnesium levels by 2000% more than ordinary magnesium supplements (9).
Our supplement also contains Magnesium Taurate, which is specifically designed to act on the GABA receptors in the brain and central system to reduce pain and increase feelings of calm, it can even help you sleep better!
Finally, we use Magnesium Glycinate, which is the most absorbable form of magnesium in the rest of the body outside of the brain. We use this to ensure that there is no magnesium deficiency affecting any other body system that could impact migraines, other pain in your body, or any other health condition, to ensure complete peace of mind.
(1) Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium. Mauskop A, Varughese J. J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2012 May;119(5):575-9.
(2) Stephen Silberstein, Theory Behind Migraine Emerges, Neurology and clinical neuroscience, Mosby Elsevier, (2007). (3) Oral Magnesium Therapy Improves Endothelial Function in Patients With Coronary Artery Disease, Michael Shechter, MD, MA; Michael Sharir, MD; Maura J. Paul Labrador, MPH; James Forrester, MD; Burton Silver, PhD; C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, Circulation. 2000; 102:2353-2358.
(4) Oral magnesium supplementation reduces ambulatory blood pressure in patients with mild hypertension. Hatzistavri LS, Sarafidis PA, Georgianos PI, Tziolas IM, Aroditis CP, Zebekakis PE, Pikilidou MI, Lasaridis AN. Am J Hypertens. 2009 Oct;22(10):1070-5.
(5) The role of GABA in the mediation and perception of pain. Enna SJ, McCarson KE. Adv Pharmacol. 2006;54:1-27.
(6) Oral magnesium oxide prophylaxis of frequent migrainous headache in children: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Wang F1, Van Den Eeden SK, Ackerson LM, Salk SE, Reince RH, Elin RJ. Headache. 2003 Jun;43(6):601-10.
(7) The effects of magnesium prophylaxis in migraine without aura. Köseoglu E1, Talaslioglu A, Gönül AS, Kula M. Magnes Res. 2008 Jun;21(2):101-8.
(8) Comparison of therapeutic effects of magnesium sulfate vs. dexamethasone/metoclopramide on alleviating acute migraine headache. Shahrami A, Assarzadegan F, Hatamabadi HR, Asgarzadeh M, Sarehbandi B, Asgarzadeh S. J Emerg Med. 2015 Jan;48(1):69-76.
(9) Enhancement of learning and memory by elevating brain magnesium. Slutsky I, Abumaria N, Wu LJ, Huang C, Zhang L, Li B, Zhao X, Govindarajan A, Zhao MG, Zhuo M, Tonegawa S, Liu G. Neuron. 2010 Jan 28;65(2):165-77.