Magnesium for Headaches

Magnesium for Headaches, Does It Help Migraine Pain?

… It might. Don’t you hate that answer? Me too! But let us give you some background info on why it’s a “maybe”, or “it depends” – and what it mostly depends on, is you. Some people find that taking magnesium helps with their migraine headaches, others don’t see any improvement when taking magnesium for headaches.

Let’s take a look at the research about magnesium and migraines. We will look at what magnesium is and discuss sources of the nutrient. Let’s examine ways that you may use magnesium for headaches as part of your treatment plan for migraine relief.

It turns out, from an academic perspective, that there is conflicting research about the effectiveness of magnesium for migraines.  If you’re not yet used to paradoxes when it comes to migraine treatments, take a look at our Migraine Basics page.

According to one medical study, magnesium may help to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines by 41% (Ehrlich, Steven D. (reviewed); American Accreditation HealthCare Commission, Reviewed 2015). In this case, taking magnesium by mouth seems to help reduce migraine symptoms.

There are conflicting reports regarding how well intravenous magnesium works for relieving migraines. However, intravenous magnesium is quite useful for relieving cluster headaches.

Who Benefits with Magnesium for Headaches?

If you suffer from headaches due to hypertension, then magnesium may be worth exploring. Magnesium can lower diastolic blood pressure. Diastolic blood pressure is the measurement of pressure within the cardiovascular system while the heart is at rest. It is the lower number when you have your blood pressure taken.

Magnesium may also help you if you experience hormone related migraines due to premenstrual syndrome. Research suggests that magnesium relieves mood changes and bloating from PMS. Supplements taken by mouth prevent and minimize PMS related headaches.
If you suffer from a magnesium deficiency, you may experience headaches. Magnesium supplementation will likely help.

Magnesium 101

Magnesium is a mineral and many foods contain magnesium. Every cell in the body needs this nutritious mineral for proper function. Women, folks with African heritages, and elderly people are among the groups most likely to suffer from a deficiency of magnesium. Low levels of the mineral contribute to many illnesses. Magnesium deficiencies contribute to cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes.

Fun fact:  The mineral has a soothing effect on nerves, and can help calm you down.

Foods high in fiber are the best sources of magnesium such as legumes, seeds, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. Dairy foods, meat, and chocolate are also good sources. Mineral-rich hard water has magnesium in it. Dark green vegetables are fantastic sources of magnesium.

Many over the counter multiple vitamin/ mineral supplements contain magnesium. Magnesium is often combined with calcium and zinc as a supplement for adults, and 350 mg of magnesium is considered a safe dose for most adults. Prescription doses of the mineral can be administered orally or intravenously (you’d need to see your doctor for these).

More information about magnesium can be found at WebMD.

Cautions when Using Magnesium for Migraine Headaches

Magnesium can cause gastrointestinal distress so you don’t want to overdo your daily intake of magnesium. Problems can include nausea, vomiting, cramping, and diarrhea. In fact, magnesium is often prescribed as a strong laxative. Excess magnesium may result in irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, breathing problems, coma, and death. Do not take the mineral unless it is prescribed by a qualified healthcare practitioner if you suffer from kidney, heart, or blood pressure problems, regardless of the pain level of your migraine or cluster headache.

Do not take magnesium supplements if you are using antibiotics unless instructed to by a qualified healthcare professional.

Magnesium for Headaches

Consult with your healthcare provider if you want to use the mineral for headaches. As mentioned previously, even the experts disagree about how magnesium should be prescribed when given for hormonal related migraine headaches. Magnesium is often administered for two months when used for these types of headaches. Some experts recommend using magnesium in combination with vitamin B6 for hormonal induced headaches.

Herbalists sometimes recommend using magnesium in conjunction with the herb feverfew for migraine prevention and relief.  Other migraine herbs can also be useful when combined together.

Magnesium and Migraine Headaches: The Bottom Line

Magnesium may make migraine headaches occur less often. The mineral sometimes reduces the intensity of headaches. Research is conflicting. You are most likely to benefit from taking magnesium to prevent and relieve migraines if your headaches are related to high blood pressure, hormones or a magnesium deficiency.

Talk to your healthcare provider before using magnesium supplements especially if you take other medications or have other health problems. The best way to consume magnesium is to eat a wide array of magnesium-rich foods. If you choose to try magnesium as part of your migraine treatment plan, document your results in your migraine journal so that you can evaluate the effectiveness of the mineral.


Leave a Reply