All migraineurs should be treated with magnesium

Hi All,

This is a new paper from the science literature – The Journal of Neural Transmission (Geneva) – that summarises the evidence for magnesium. I for one stopped using it over a year ago and am about to change that by using a different brand. The other one was giving me IBS but was also mixed with other stuff (Ultra Muscleze).

– Hypomagnesemia is very common, occurring in about 14.5% of the general population (Schimatschek and Rempis 2001)
– Genetic factors are clearly operational in the susceptibility to migraine. Magnesium absorption and excretion is also influenced by genetic factors. It is possible that there is an overlap between the genetics of migraine and magnesium metabolism
– A magnesium load test study (Trauninger et al. 2002) revealed that greater retention of magnesium occurred in patients suffering from migraine compared to healthy controls, suggesting a systemic deficiency
– Serum and tissue magnesium levels do not reflect total magnesium levels
– If migraineurs are found to be magnesium deficient by a reliable test, they should be given oral magnesium, and if it is ineffective or not tolerated, and intravenous infusion
– Considering that up to 50% of patients with migraines could potentially benefit from this extremely safe and very inexpensive treatment, it should be recommended to all migraine patients
– The daily recommended dose is 400 mg of magnesium oxide, chelated magnesium (magnesium aspartate, diglycinate, gluconate, etc.), or another magnesium salt
– If the initial dose is ineffective and hypomagnesmia is strongly suspected (in addition to migraines, patient has cold extremities, premenstrual syndrome, and leg or foot muscle cramps) the dose can be doubled
– Dosage is limited due to side effects such as diarrhea and abdominal pain. For patients who do not tolerate or absorb oral magnesium, monthly intravenous magnesium is recommended for prophylactic migraine treatment

Scott 8)

For what it’s worth, I was reading somewhere online earlier today (can’t remember where) about calcium/magnesium supplements vs. just plain magnesium. Assuming it’s right - someone can verify later, it’s already past my bedtime :wink: - the two are usually combined because the magnesium is needed to help the absorption of the calcium (and not the other way around). If you take the two together, you actually lose some of the potency of the magnesium, so it’s recommend that they are taken at different times of the day if you must take both.

Oooh, now I remember. Here’s the site. It’s a blog by a doc at a headache facility. You have to scroll through the Q&As to get to the right one, but it’s at least one doc’s thought…

And this article argues that although it may work for some migraineurs it may only fill a minor niche in migraine treatment. This author is more stuck on the evidence-base from randomised trials.

Nevertheless, I think everyone here should definitely add magnesium to their arsenal. If I have gut issues again, I’m going to try an intravenous infusion as per article number 1. Do we need crack dens for that? :lol:

My chiropractor was the first person to point out that I may have a magnesium deficiency. She sold me a bottle of Metagenics Cal Apatitie with Magnesium 300 mg daily. I started feeling better almost immediately. I had strong MAV since February of 2012 and have been taking the magnesium for a little over 2 weeks and I am about 95%. I am also taking verapamil 180 at bedtime and Effexor 25 mg once a day in the morning. I had been taking both meds for over a month with little noticeable difference until I started taking the magnesium. The correlation seems to be pretty strong since I started feeling better almost immediately.

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Thanks for the input. While it does appear that the Mg might be doing the job, you cannot be certain here because it could also have been the other meds kicking in – they often take 4-6 weeks to begin working. Mg often takes months to take full effect according to the literature. Still, whatever it is that’s making you feel well, keep at it! :slight_smile:

If you really stabilise on everything, you could experiment down the track and remove one med at a time and see if the Mg alone is doing anything. Risky though because you could descend into MAV hell again.


My own experience with Mg is that it didn’t help me at all. I took 400mg of Magnesium Citrate daily along with Nortriptyline for about 9 months and got very little improvement. I only started getting better about 2 weeks after starting on Topamax. 2 months into taking Topamax I realized I had forgotten to take my Magnesium for several weeks without it having any negative effect. So I can only surmise the magnesium wasn’t really doing anything.

I’m sure Magnesium may help some people. It seemed to have no effect, positive or negative on me. It did help counteract the constipation that Nortriptyline caused though!

magnesium did not help me. I remember at the time I was trying it that I was warned against taking too much, I can’t recall why, but if you do take some, make sure it is not also in a multi vitamin you are taking. Also check with your physician, many vitamins increase CSF pressure which can be the culprit for chronic migraine. It does help constipation. :slight_smile:


Well this is interesting. Have mentioned this before but… Years ago, in my twenties, I had chronic fatigue syndrome. After 6 yrs of intolerable tiredness, violent myaligia, constant sleep and numerous other symptoms I saw a specialist who thought outside the box. He was an immunologist. He was known for trying slightly alternative treatments. He prescribed weekly magnesium injections alongside numerous supplements. Within a few weeks I was well. Most astonishing was after the injection, it was like having been given a hit of energy, for the first time in years I was bouncing around. Initially this wore off but eventually it stuck and I was well.

Subsequently I read an article by, I believe, a swedish doctor, who had discovered that in certain patients with ME/chronic fatigue, their problem was actually magnesium deficiency.

Last Christmas I had three weeks where I felt like it had partly come back. I was barely able to get out of bed, didn’t feel fluey, but my muscles ached constantly and I was tired to the point where I would have liked to sleep all the time. I did a load of research in to magnesium. It has occurred to me over the years with MAV that I should try mag injections again, in case there’s a link, but the doctors I mentioned this to always looked at me askance, so I dropped it. Attempts to take magnesium orally horribly upset my already reflux prone digestive system so I just gave up on it. This is why I did some research.

Anyway, long story short, after vast amounts of reading online, I discovered that people who are heavy proponents of magnesium strongly recommend transdermal application (rubbing magnesium oil on to the skin) as they believe this has a higher and faster and more effective rate of absorbtion. I don’t think I came across any actual medical studies to support their hypothesies, but applying it to the skin sidesteps the issues that it can have on the digestive tract, so I went and bought a bottle of magnesium oil from my local health food store and rubbed it in twice daily. Within a few days the muscle aches had gone and so had the tiredness. I didn’t know if I’d had a long lasting virus or if the magnesium had worked. I wasn’t fussed as I felt better.

This was the one I used, but I believe there are loads of brands you could try. It’s also pretty cheap so it’s no biggie if it doesn’t work.

Having read the study you have posted, Scott, I’ve realised I’m an idiot and should be trying it out for a good few months to see if it alters my MAV. God knows having now trialed pregabalin and lamotrigine and had to, as usual, discontinue them due to SE’s and increased symptoms, I’m up for exploring a new avenue.

Forgot to say, the reason I didn’t pursue the injection angle was because I knew I would have a very hard time getting a doctor to do them. I knew I would come up against a huge amount of scepticism. Although this wouldn’t put me off doing them again, do know that the injections hurt like hell. I don’t mean the prick of the needle, I mean they have to do them intra muscularly, into the non fleshy bit above your backside and you can weirdly feel the magnesium going in. I was warned it wouldn’t be fun, but if you go ahead take something to bite on and be prepared to roll around afterwards massaging your leg and shouting ow. I was quite happy when I found out about the transdermal application as frankly it’s much more pleasant. That said, I LOVED having the injections when I had ME as it was very quickly clear that their after effects were miraculous.

By the way, for anyone who doesn’t know me, I’m a huge sceptic around any kind of ‘alternative’ woo style treatments. So these aren’t the words of someone who easily buys in to any supposed alternative miracle cures.


Another very good in-depth review on the role of magnesium in migraine – an expert review from 2009. Again they mention injections if an oral dose is intolerable.

Never realised you had tons of pain too in your twenties with the tiredness Hannah. While I’m not really suffering any lack of energy (it’s OK but not amazeballs) I ache like crazy ALL THE TIME. The GP told me I have a virus but for 3 months? Come on. I’m just looking up magnesium on the web now and going to order some stuff from iHerb. If my gut falls apart, then injection time.

I feel stupid for overlooking this as well. I just figured it wasn’t doing that much previously but who knows … maybe some of us are genetically screwed up in terms of magnesium and it’s just got worse with age.

A few years ago, hubby told me I was doing a Radio City “Rockettes” routine at night - high kicks, sometimes getting him good. I had no inkling this was going on because I slept right through it. So he just kept his distance for his own safety. But one morning I woke up with a hip injury. It even hurt when the bucket seat of my car so much as touched my hip. I went to the doc, who prescribed … magnesium and calcium. Periodic limb movements in sleep. While my doc didn’t say that this condition can be migraine-related, Dr. Silver made the connection in the paper that Scott posted here. I was already taking calcium (because I don’t eat many dairy products). But the addition of magnesium at bedtime made a significant difference - it didn’t eliminate the problem, but now I only twitch instead of kick, and no more injuries to either me or hubby.


By the way, Scott, I just looked at Dr. Silver’s article again and I noticed he mentioned limb pain as yet another presentation of migraine, FYI.

As for the IBS problem, calcium has a tendency to be a bit constipating, which will counteract the effects of the magnesium - which tends to make things go the other way. But there are recent warnings about calcium supplements, so I’m not so keen on taking those now. Since cottage cheese is OK on the migraine diet, and I actually like that, I’m trying to eat that almost daily, but that won’t replace the calcium supplements. I get some calcium in my multivitamin, which I’m not going to quit taking, but I don’t think it’s enough. So it may help to explore other dietary ways to up the calcium.

Thanks Maryalice. I need to read it again. Forgotten he had said that. S :slight_smile:

This diagram captures it all really.

Neat graphic, Scott. Did you do that yourself?

I get 50 mg of magnesium in my mulitvitamin and I take 250 mg of magnesium at bedtime, so I’m only getting 300 mg through supplements, not the 400 that’s recommended. If I took more, maybe my night twitching would stop. But I’m hesitant to overdo it. I guess I could try a 400 mg pill at night and see what happens - maybe my barometric change headaches, which nothing seems to be able to stop, might be helped??

However, the thought of migraine crack dens (Scott, you come up with the best ideas) where we could get our fixes by mainlining magnesium is more intriguing. And many of us sauntering in with our rose-colored specs. Yeah, they’ll all be wanting to be one of us.


— Begin quote from ____

was reading somewhere online earlier today (can’t remember where) about calcium/magnesium supplements vs. just plain magnesium. Assuming it’s right - someone can verify later, it’s already past my bedtime - the two are usually combined because the magnesium is needed to help the absorption of the calcium (and not the other way around). If you take the two together, you actually lose some of the potency of the magnesium, so it’s recommend that they are taken at different times of the day if you must take both

— End quote

I read this months ago, that yes Magnesium for migraines has to be taken seperately. The same article I read also said that it really needs to end in “ate”
to be the most effective for migraine use. Gluconate, Lactate, Sulfate, but they recommened Magnesium Citrate 400mg. I have this kind. Im not sure if its a coincidence, but a few times I took it during a headache and a couple times it relieved it by a good 50% other time it went away completly.
The Citrate was not that easy to find, most of them are oxide. Probably cheaper or something. I found the Citrate at GNC.

Im sorry I dont have the article to list, but I know it was one of the migraine headache sites, because I was only looking at those types of sites.


I was told that calcium and magnesium use the same receptors in the body for absorption so if taken in large doses at the same time, they end up competing for absorption. The end result is that your body may not absorb enough of either mineral for the therapeutic effects you are seeking.

Also, if you do take large doses of magnesium you should be supplementing with calcium (taken at a different time of day) particularly for women.

Here’s why I’m concerned about calcium supplements. From the Wall Street Journal a few days ago:

“…recent studies link calcium supplements to a higher risk of heart attacks and kidney stones. Last month, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued a draft recommendation against taking calcium and vitamin D, saying there wasn’t enough evidence of benefit to justify the risk.”

Don’t want any fractures, but I’ll take a broken bone over a heart attack. :?

I’d been taking calcium supplements for years. I had a bone density test a couple years ago and it was fine. I usually don’t eat a lot of dairy, but I’m starting to try to eat cottage cheese almost daily; don’t know what else I can eat though to get my calcium. Will have to do a little more research on other food sources. I don’t want my bone density to start going bad now, but I don’t want my heart health to suffer, either!

I tried taking magnesium the last 2 nights… i took 250 and then yesterday did 500mg. So far i havent felt any better or worse.

I think it’s supposed to take a month or so for it to build up in your system before you notice any difference (if you’re going to feel any better, that is…). In terms of immediate results, I think the only thing that you’re liable to notice early on is that it can act like a laxative. (Some folks don’t have that problem, some do.)

Stay with it for at least 3 months. It takes time for any treatment like this to start having an effect for many.


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Thanks for the info… i will surely try that out

Mary Alice, that is new information and concerning to hear about calium and vitamin D supplementation! I’ll have to ask my doctor about this and so some more research. If it’s not one thing, it’s another…