HomeLibraryHealth ConcernsPain / Inflammation
Study Suggests Magnesium May Help with Migraines
By Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS, May 31, 2012, abstracted from “Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium” in the May 2012 issue of the Journal of Neural Transmission
Magnesium’s numerous health benefits include helping maintain blood pressure health (1), cardiovascular health (2), colorectal health (3), and blood sugar health (4). But research has shown 14.5 % of the general population to be deficient in magnesium (5), thereby increasing their risks for numerous illnesses (6). 
Now a review article (7) suggests that magnesium may play a role in migraine headaches. Migraines affect about 10% of the population, is three times more common in women than men and is most commonly thought to be due to blood vessel dysfunction and genetics (8). Migraines cost our healthcare system $17 billion per year (9).
In the article, researchers highlighted three studies on magnesium administration and migraine headache. In the first study (10), 40 patients suffering from migraines were treated with an intravenous infusion of 1 gram of magnesium sulfate. Within 15 minutes of the magnesium administration, 35 of the 40 patients experienced a 50% reduction in pain. Eighteen of the 21 patients with low blood levels of magnesium (< 0.54 millimoles/Liter) had pain relief for over 24 hours, while only 3 of the 19 patients with magnesium blood levels above 0.54 mmol/L experienced relief for more than 24 hours. This suggests that magnesium deficiency may play a significant role in the onset of migraines.
In the second study, 120 migraine patients who came to an emergency room (11) experienced “significant improvement in pain and symptoms” when given 1 gram magnesium sulfate compared to placebo. Specifically, those in the magnesium group suffering from “migraine with aura” experienced a 36.7% decrease in light and sound sensitivity (photophobia/phonophobia) compared to those in the placebo group. This led the researchers to conclude that “magnesium sulfate can be used for the treatment of all symptoms in migraine with aura.”
In the third double-blind placebo-controlled emergency room study (12), 113 patients received intravenous infusion in one of three groups:
Group 1: 10 mg of the migraine medication metoclopramide
Group 2: 2 grams of magnesium sulfate,
Group 3: Placebo 
Before the treatment and 15 minutes and 30 minutes after treatment, the patients were asked to rate their pain on a 100-millimeter (mm) visual analog scale (13) and were asked at 30 minutes if they needed “rescue medication” for their migraines. While all three groups experienced a
25-mm decrease in the visual analog scale at 30 minutes, “rescue medication” use was identical in the magnesium and metoclopramide but increased in the placebo group, showing magnesium to have similar benefits for migraine suffers as metoclopramide.
For the researchers, migraine sufferers, especially those with low magnesium blood levels, “could potentially benefit from this extremely safe and very inexpensive treatment” and that magnesium “should be recommended to all migraine patients.”
Greg Arnold is a Chiropractic Physician practicing in Hauppauge, NY.  You can contact Dr. Arnold directly by emailing him at PitchingDoc@msn.com or visiting his web site at www.PitchingDoc.com
1.       Kass L. Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure:a meta-analysis. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2012; 1-8
2.       Larsson SC. Dietary magnesium intake and risk of stroke: a meta-analysisof prospective studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Dec 28. [Epub ahead of print]
3.       Ma E. High Dietary Intake of Magnesium May Decrease Risk of Colorectal Cancer in Japanese Men.J. Nutr. (February 17, 2010). doi:10.3945/jn.109.117747
4.       Sales CH, et al., Influence of magnesium status and magnesium intake on the blood glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes, Clinical Nutrition (2011), doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2010.12.011
5.       Schimatschek HF. Prevalence of hypomagnesemia in an unselected German population of 16,000 individuals. Magnes Res 2001; 14:283–290
6.       Innerarity S. Hypomagnesemia in acute and chronic illness. Crit Care Nurs Q 2000; 23:1–19
7.       Mauskop A. Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium. J Neural Transm 2012; 119:575–579. DOI 10.1007/s00702-012-0790-2
8.       “NINFD Migraine Information Page” - http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/migraine/migraine.htm
9.       Goldberg LD. The Cost of Migraine and Its Treatment. Am J Manag Care. 2005;11:S62-S67
10.   Mauskop A. Intravenous magnesium sulfate relieves migraine attacks in patients with low serum ionized magnesium levels: a pilot study. Clin Sci 1995; 89:633–636
11.   Bigal ME. Intravenous magnesium sulphate in the acute treatment of migraine without aura and migraine with aura. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Cephalalgia 2002; 22:345–353
12.   Cete Y. A randomized prospective placebo-controlled study of intravenous magnesium sulphate vs. metoclopramide in the management of acute migraine attacks in the emergency department. Cephalalgia 2005; 25:199–204
13.   Visual Analog Scale - http://www.cebp.nl/vault_public/filesystem/?ID=1478