Migraine headaches make life miserable for millions of people. Because migraines are often caused by a lack of two nutrients or triggered by factors relating to diet and the environment, it is relatively easy to do something the disease.
Migraines are often characterized by a throbbing headache in one side of the brain, typically accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. The headache normally lasts anywhere from a few hours to three days. It is known that the large blood vessels on the outside of the brain dilate during a migraine attack and it most likely this dilation that causes the pain. Nonetheless, it is alterations in the electric activity in the brain cells that causes the attack to start and stop.
#1 Lack of magnesium may account for more than half the cases
Magnesium is a part of over 300 enzymatic processes that are of vital importance to nerve impulses, blood pressure, muscle contraction, electrolyte balance maintenance (fluid and salt balance) and numerous other functions. According to an article that was published in the Journal of Neural Transmission, magnesium deficiency is involved in over 50% of the migraine cases. Researchers also point to the fact that a magnesium deficiency cannot be detected by means of a regular blood sample, as magnesium is primarily found inside the cells. Nonetheless, scientists advise all migraine patients to try taking a magnesium supplement, simply because magnesium deficiencies are widespread due to stress, lack of magnesium in the diet, poor magnesium absorption in the digestive system, extraordinarily large renal excretion of the mineral, and various other causes.
Important: Normal blood tests are unable to detect a magnesium deficiency
As most of our magnesium is stored inside the cells a normal blood test is unable to reveal an actual magnesium shortage. The only way to detect a deficiency is by means a whole blood analysis that also measures the magnesium content in cells.
High-dosed magnesium supplements help
Supplementing with magnesium not only reduces the number of migraine attacks but also reduces their duration and strength, while reducing the need for acute medication. This was seen in a placebo-controlled study that is published in the journal Cephalagia, which is issued on behalf of the International Headache Society
The study included a total of 81 migraine patients who had, on average, 3.6 migraine attacks per month. The participants were given either 600 mg of magnesium daily or a placebo (dummy pills) for a period of 12 weeks. Within weeks 9-12, the number of migraine attacks in the magnesium group dropped by 41.6%. In the placebo group, there were 15.8% fewer attacks. When it comes to migraine and headaches, some researchers theorize that magnesium affects the sensitivity towards migraine-triggering substances, the tension in blood vessels of the brain, muscle tension, and blood pressure
Magnesium sources and supplements
Good magnesium sources include kernels, almonds, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and whole-grain. Magnesium supplements are recommended to prevent migraines. It is important to get 600 milligrams daily and to take the supplements together with the main meals. Also, it is advised to take magnesium supplement for three months and to continue if there is an effect.
Not all magnesium supplements are absorbed equally well. A good way to test a supplement is to drop a magnesium tablet into a glass a water to see if it dissolves within a few minutes. Rapid dissolution of the tablet gives a good guarantee that the body is able to absorb the magnesium content. Supplementing with larger magnesium doses is not associated with a risk of side effects. Rare cases of diarrhea have been seen, but this problem is easily solved by lowering the dosage. Actually, many people who take magnesium supplements find that it helps their digestion.
#2 Q10 may also be worth trying
Q10 is a coenzyme that participates in the energy metabolism of all cells. The human body synthesizes most of its own Q10, but the endogenous production decreases with age. The brain is particularly energy-demanding, and there appear to be several causes to a Q10 deficiency of the brain at all ages.
Several studies have shown that Q10 has a positive effect on migraines. In an open study where the participants were given 150 mg of Q10 daily, 61% of the Q10-treated patients experienced a more than 50% reduction of days with migraines. In a double-blind placebo-controlled study where participants were given higher doses of Q10 (3 x 100 mg), fewer attacks and fewer days with migraines were also observed.
Children who suffer from migraines are also often Q10-deficient. This was seen in a study that was published in the science journal Headache in 2007. The study also revealed that three months of supplementing with Q10 increased Q10 serum levels and reduced the severity and duration of migraine attacks significantly. As Q10 in supplement form is not easily absorbed in the digestive system it is vital to choose a product that can document its bio-availability.
#3 It is also important to pay attention to other factors that may trigger migraines such as:
- Histamine-containing and histamine-releasing foods such as cheese, red wine, marinated and smoked food, chocolate, and monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Stress and tension
- Low blood sugar and dehydration
- Exposure to tobacco smoke and bad air
- Contraceptive pills and hormonal changes - e.g. puberty and menopause
- Strong sunlight and electrosmog from computers, televisions etc.
Treatment of symptom or cause
In contrast to conventional migraine medication that is often associated with the risk of serious side effects, simple dietary advice plus magnesium and Q10 are natural solutions that often help treat the cause of migraines.
Mauskop A, Varughese J. : Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium. Journal of Neural Transmission 2012
A Peikert et al. Prophylaxis of Migraine with Oral Magnesium: Results from a Prospective, Multi-Center, Placebo-Controlled and Double-blind Study. Cephalagia 1996
Hershey et al. Q10 and migraine. Headache 2007