Magnesium + Migraines
Osteopath and Headache practitioner Tim, explores if headache and migraine sufferers should consider adding Magnesium to their treatment regime.
Magnesium is an excellent first line of treatment for those suffering from migraines. It is inexpensive, readily available and has relatively few side effects.
Although the studies on its effectiveness are limited, the results are promising. Magnesium is certainly something for anyone living with migraine to understand.
A 2017 systematic review found five studies measuring the effect of magnesium to prevent migraines (1).
Three out of the five papers found there was a reduction in the frequency and severity of migraines after supplementing with magnesium.
The American Headache Academy suggested that taking magnesium is ‘probably effective’ for the prevention of migraines. They also suggested that people should be closely monitored and seek guidance from a health professional (2).
Supplements are a really common way of getting magnesium, but it can be a bit tricky to navigate. The supplements that are best absorbed by the body are water soluble (3, 4).
If you look on the packaging of the supplement, you want the magnesium to be paired with one of these:
These are the most soluble forms that mg comes in.
You should take no more than 350mg a day and be mindful of side effects such as abdominal cramping and diarrhoea (5).
Mg can also be taken as a spray. Whilst there is only anecdotal evidence for its effectiveness a spray is great for anyone with gut issues or for applying it directly to the muscles of the upper neck.
- Magnesium in Migaine Prophylaxis – Is There An Evidence Based Rationale? A Systematic Review. Headache. 2018 Feb;58(2):199-209
- Holland S, Silberstein SD, Freitag F, Dodick DW, Argoff C, Ashman E. Evidence-based guideline update: NSAIDs and other complementary treatments for episodic migraine prevention in adults. Neurology 2012;78:1346-53. [PubMed abstract]
- Ranade VV, Somberg JC. Bioavailability and pharmacokinetics of magnesium after administration of magnesium salts to humans. Am J Ther 2001;8:345-57.
- Firoz M, Graber M. Bioavailability of US commercial magnesium preparations. Magnes Res 2001;14:257-62.
- Institute of Medicine (IOM). Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Fluoride. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997.