Magnesium and Migraines

Magnesium and migraines supplementsMagnesium and migraines have recently been revealed as closely related, and this may mean that there is a simple, inexpensive and effective home treatment for migraine sufferers. Don’t expect your neighborhood neurologist to tell you this, but those who are more open minded about treatment will.

Numerous studies have been conducted (see a list of a few at the end of this article), and in all they present strong evidence that increased magnesium intake (even with supplements) can be very effective in reducing or curing migraines. Even the USDA has climbed on the bandwagon, and suggested increased daily intake of food high in magnesium or, if needed, magnesium supplements. The USDA reports says:

Epidemiological findings and supplementation trials show that people’s magnesium status is associated with the severity and frequency of migraine headaches… controlled human studies at the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center (GFHNRC) and elsewhere are being done to conclusively show that inadequate magnesium intake can result in these maladies.

I added the bolded phrase. Whatever the cause, inadequate magnesium has been correlated with migraines. We already know that migraines cause stress, and that stress can reduce the magnesium levels in the human body, but several studies go beyond this to show that additional magnesium in food or via supplements can be the solution for many migraine sufferers. The same report goes on to say “magnesium supplementation reduces the number and duration of migraines, including menstrual migraines, in some people.” It further suggests that “too little magnesium can worsen the suffering from migraine headaches.”

There is strong evidence that magnesium helps stabilize the blood vessels, preventing capillary and muscle spasms.

One double-blind study revealed regular use of magnesium helps to prevent migraine headaches. The subject group of patients with recurrent migraines were given either 600 mg of magnesium each day or a placebo. The magnesium group’s migraines were reduced by 41.6%, compared to a reduction of 15.8% in the placebo group. Other double-blind studies have shown similar results. One study found no benefit, but has since been criticized on many significant points, including using an excessively strict definition of what constitutes a benefit.

The patients group at relates the following with regards to dosage and types of magnesium to use. Note that magnesium rich water is suggested, and more information is available about those at our magnesium water page.

A Canadian approach suggested that physicians advise migraine patients to consume at least 6 mg magnesium per day for each kilogram of body weight. An even higher intake of 10 mg/day per Kg of body weight may be desirable provided that it does not trigger a laxative effect. Breaking the dosage into three or four parts taken at different times of day helps prevent laxative effect. Magnesium hydroxide is NOT recommended because of poor bioavailability and because they know of no instance of it having any beneficial use other than as a laxative. Other Magnesium compounds appear to be better, including Magnesium oxide, Magnesium sulphate, and Magnesium citrate. Natural magnesium in water (magnesium carbonate dissolved in CO2-rich water) is 30% more bio-available than Magnesium in food or pill, and offers much greater cardio-protection.

As the evidence adds up, we are still left without absolute proof of magnesium’s efficacy with migraines. Yet, magnesium and migraines are strongly linked, and there is plenty to suggest that increased magnesium could not only prevent migraines, but lessen the severity of the migraines that do occur. Couple this with the minimal risk associated with increasing magnesium (unless you have kidney problems) and it would seem a no-brainer to give this a try. But remember to avoid chocolate as a magnesium source, as chocolate may be part of the cause of your migraines.

As additional ways to help prevent migraines, a calcium boost before bedtime, eating more smaller meals rather than a few huge meals, drink plenty of water, and consume a bit of cayenne pepper each day (apparently helps raise your pain threshold).

Again, some of the studies on magnesium and migraines are listed below:

* Pfaffenrath V, Diener H, Fischer M, et al. The efficacy and  safety of Tanacetum parthenium (feverfew) in migraine prophylaxis-a  double-blind, multicentre, randomized placebo-controlled dose-response  study.         Cephalalgia. 2002;22:523-532.
* Peikert A, Wilimzig C, Kohne-Volland R. Prophylaxis of migraine  with oral magnesium: results from a prospective, multi-center,  placebo-controlled and double-blind randomized study.         Cephalalgia. 1996;16:257-263.
* Taubert K. Magnesium in migraine. Results of a multicenter pilot study [in German; English abstract].         Fortschr Med. 1994;112:328-330.
* Facchinetti F, Sances G, Borella P, et al. Magnesium prophylaxis  of menstrual migraine: effects on intracellular magnesium.         Headache. 1991;31:298-301.
* Pfaffenrath V, Wessely P, Meyer C, et al. Magnesium in the  prophylaxis of migraine—a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.         Cephalalgia. 1996;16:436-440.
* Gaby AR. Research review.         Nutr Healing. March 1997.
* Titus F, Davalos A, Alom J, et al. 5-hydroxytryptophan versus  methysergide in the prophylaxis of migraine: randomized clinical trial.         Eur Neurol. 1986;25:327-329.
* Bono G, Criscuoli M, Martignoni E, et al. Serotonin precursors in migraine prophylaxis.         Adv Neurol. 1982;33:357-363.
* Maissen CP, Ludin HP. Comparison of the effect of  5-hydroxytryptophan and propranolol in the interval treatment of  migraine [translated from German].         Schweiz Med Wochenschr. 1991;121:1585-1590.
* Santucci M, Cortelli P, Rossi PG, et al. L-5-hydroxytryptophan  versus placebo in childhood migraine prophylaxis: a double-blind  crossover study.         Cephalalgia. 1986;6:155-157.
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Benefits of Chocolate

Magnesium in Chocolate?

You betcha!

Magnesium Filled Chocolate

Magnesium Filled Chocolate

Benefits of Chocolate

Magnesium in Chocolate

One of the benefits of chocolate is significant amounts of magnesium. Peter Meisel, of the Department of
Pharmacology, Ernst Moritz Arndt University Greifswald, Greifswald, Germany, says “a bar of this chocolate supplies the recommended daily allowance of magnesium.

Jean Mayer, of the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (J.B.B.), Tufts University, Boston, Mass., said “Consumption of flavanol-rich dark chocolate (DC) has been shown to decrease blood pressure (BP) and insulin resistance in healthy subjects.

Estimates range from over 100 mg of magnesium per 100 grams of chocolate, but lets start with the cocao bean. At 131 mg per 100 grams, raw cocoa powder, which is extracted from the cocao bean with the fats removed, would seem to be the richest natural source of magnesium we know of. That’s great…but who eats raw cocoa powder? It’s more reasonable to look at 25-30 mgs of magnesium in your chocolate, the kind you buy at the store, and that all depends on the cocoa content. 70% or higher cocoa content chocolate is a good snack. This applies specifically to dark chocolate, not milk chocolate.

Milk chocolate only has about 25% of the magnesium that dark chocolate does.

That hot cocoa you drink on a cool morning does more than just satisfy a sweet tooth, as long as it is rich in cocoa powder. (In fact coconut milk with cocoa is another super magnesium concoction-and tasty!)

This would seem to be to good to be true, but it has been sufficiently verified to gain the acceptance of the medical community.

A new study, which involved a review of three prior studies, suggests eating about a bar of chocolate a week can help cut the risk of stroke and lower the risk of death after a stroke. Neurologist Gustavo Saposnik at St. Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto says the evidence is still limited, but he suggests further investigation.

One study they looked at found that 44,489 people who ate one serving of chocolate per week were 22% less likely tohave a stroke than people who ate no chocolate. Another study found that 1,169 people who ate 50 grams of chocolate once a week were 46% less likely to die following a stroke than people who didn’t eat chocolate.

Going back a little farther, Jean Calment lived to the age of 122, healthy to the end in 1997. She attributed herlongevity to olive oil, two cigarettes a day and a kilo (2.2 pounds!) of chocolate per week. Admittedly, this is liking asking someone why they have a full head of hair. Ms. Calmert was blessed with longevity, and at the veryleast we can say that 2 kilos of chocolate a week didn’t likely shorten her life.

Still, there’s enough here to say that dark chocolate covered almonds are one doozy of a magnesium boost. Almonds are high in magnesium as well.

The only question here is this: Can we make up for our magnesium deficiency by indulging in daily chocolate binges?

Well….maybe that’s not such a good idea.

Here’s the bad news (you knew there had to be a catch, right?)

Chocolate is still a junk food. While the magnesium in chocolate will be a benefit, as will the anti-oxidants in it, you are getting a lot of other stuff you might be better off without. Sugar, for one. Fatty calories for another. While magnesium works to prevent the onset of adult Type II diabetes and reduce inflammatory diseases, the sugar will be working to screw up your insulin levels and increase inflammatory conditions.

Chocolate also has high copper levels, which can bring on a number of problems over years. Accumulated copper levels actually worsen many of the conditions that magnesium makes better.

This is not meant to scare you, as chocolate is a pleasurable food. Just keep in mind that it’s not a cure-all, and shouldn’t be overindulged in.

So, if you want something sweet and fun, buy all means make sure it’s chocolate with a high cocoa content. Mixed with almonds is even better. While your main source of magnesium shouldn’t be the magnesium in chocolate, there’snothing wrong enjoying the benefits of chocolate at your usual dessert or snack time.