AdvertisementsMagnesium supplementation appears to reduce the frequency of headache attacks. The basic cause of migraine is still not clear. It has been observed that initially there is constriction of blood vessels and reduction of blood supply to the brain. This is followed by their dilation and increased flow leading to throbbing headache.
Magnesium is an essential mineral required by the human body for hundreds of enzymatic reactions. People with low Mg2+ serum levels have more frequent headache attacks. It also appears that there is genetic predisposition as the disorder is found to runs in families. Women are more likely to get migraine than men. When the Mg2+ is boosted by supplementation of the mineral the severity and frequency of the episodes decrease. In one study, there was nearly 50% reduction in the frequency of attacks when magnesium supplements were taken.
Lack of magnesium affects and influences the synthesis and release of various of neurotransmitters. Impaired neurotransmission may be one of the causes of these headache symptoms. Deficiency of Mg2+ affect serotonin receptor function, nitric oxide synthesis and release, NMDA receptors and other migraine headache related receptors and neurotransmitters.
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Apart from pain, the affected person may experience visual disturbances, numbness, irritability, dullness, weakness and tingling sensation. Many triggering factors have been identified. Certain foods, such as chocolate, dairy products, nuts, pickles, and peanut butter may trigger migraine headache attacks. Every migraine patient has his or her own list of foods which trigger headaches.
TriggersHormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, periods and menopause may trigger these headaches. Environmental factors like weather changes, altitude changes, heat, humidity, bright light, smoke and loud noise affect some patients.
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Food sources and supplementationGreen leafy vegetables, soybean products, bananas, avocados, whole grains, and most of nuts and seeds are rich in magnesium. The green chlorophyll in the leaves contains magnesium. Supplements of the mineral are available both in oral and injection forms. Though normally magnesium does not have side effects, high doses may cause diarrhea and abdominal cramping.
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Treatment and managementThere is no standard cure for these episodic headaches. Avoiding the triggers is the best course of action. For pain relief painkillers, beta-blockers, calcium-channel blockers, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, triptans and ergots are prescribed. Prevention or reduction in the frequency of migraine headache attacks can be achieved with Mg or riboflavin supplementation. For long term prevention of migraine headaches, foods rich in magnesium may consumed to boost serum magnesium levels.
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1.Mauskop A, Varughese J. Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium. J Neural Transm. 2012 May;119(5):575-9.
2.Mauskop A, Altura BM. Role of magnesium in the pathogenesis and treatment of migraines. Clin Neurosci. 1998;5(1):24-7.
3.Sun-Edelstein C, Mauskop A. Role of magnesium in the pathogenesis and treatment of migraine. Expert Rev Neurother. 2009 Mar;9(3):369-79.
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Current topic on nutritional deficiency diseases: Magnesium for migraine headaches.