When I was a pre-teen, I suffered from debilitating migraine headaches, complete with visual disturbances, pin pricking sensations, nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. Sometimes, it was so bad that I lost the ability to speak! I’m not even joking. I could think what I wanted to say but I just couldn’t get my mouth to form the words no matter how hard I tried. When I think about it now, it was unbelievably horrible. As a child, I always wondered what caused my migraines and I noted that it may have either been caffeine from strongly brewed black tea – a natural remedy for occasional stomach upsets or smoke pollution, since these two things affected me just before I had two of my worst migraine episodes. But, I’m pretty sure there were other underlying causes, for example magnesium deficiency.
What Triggers/Causes Migraine Headaches?
There are many triggers for migraine headaches but the exact cause is unknown. Some triggers include: skipping meals, smoking or being exposed to smoke, caffeine, alcohol consumption, inadequate rest/sleep, hormonal fluctuations, allergies, medication for example sleeping & contraceptive pills, too much tension/stress, certain foods such as those that contain MSG including instant noodles, tyramine including chocolate, peanut butter, red wine, smoked fish, etc and nitrates such as bacon and salami. For some people even dehydration can lead to terrible headaches. If you regularly suffer from unbearable migraines, please take note of any triggers such as foods, scents and things around you that were present just before you got the migraine so you can avoid them and prevent migraines.
Magnesium for Migraines
Magnesium is a very important mineral and plays many important functions in the body including:
- Normal nerve and muscle function
- Regulate blood glucose levels
- Facilitates the production of energy and protein
- Keeps bones strong
- Regulates normal and healthy heart beats
- Supports a healthy immune system
…and so much more
Magnesium deficiency leads to a whole host of problems including poor sleep, muscle cramps & spasms, facial tics, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, hyperactive reflexes, irregular heartbeat, PMS, back pain, fatigue, involuntary eye movements & other neuromuscular symptoms as well as various types of headaches including migraines.
Recent studies have also linked recurring migraine headaches to magnesium deficiency. In one study, 81 chronic migraine sufferers were treated with 300 mg of magnesium 2 times a day. The results were that the frequency of their migraines was reduced by 41.6% while a control group who were given placebos had a reduction of only 15.8 %. The study also found that the number of days and the pain of the migraines significantly reduced.
Another study (1) carried out by Dr. Alexander Mauskop, director of the New York Headache Center and Drs. Bella and Burton Altura, all of whom had been researching on migraines and treatments for over a decade, noted that people who suffered from migraines as well as many other types of headache were magnesium deficient and treating the deficiency alleviated headache pain. The study involved treating a group of 3,000 patients with 200 mg of magnesium daily. The results found that the patients experienced an 80% reduction in their migraine symptoms.
Here’s an excerpt by Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of the Magnesium Miracle, talking about how low magnesium deficiency can lead to migraine headaches:
“The following biochemical events involving low magnesium have been identified in migraine sufferers and may set the stage for a migraine attack.
• In non-menopausal women, estrogen rises before the period, causing a shift of blood magnesium into bone and muscles. As a result, magnesium levels in the brain are lowered.
• When magnesium is low, it is unable to do its job to counteract the clotting action calcium exerts on the blood. Micro blood clots are thought to clog up the brain’s tiny blood vessels, leading to migraines. Several other substances that help create blood clots are increased when magnesium is too low.
• Low brain magnesium promotes neurotransmitter hyperactivity and nerve excitation that can lead to headaches.”
Caution: Please note that I am not a doctor and this information is not to be taken for medical advice, and is for informational purposes only. Always consult your doctor before taking any magnesium supplements especially if you suffer from severe/chronic health conditions.
How to Use Magnesium Oil for Migraine Headaches
Did you know that magnesium is actually better absorbed through the skin than the stomach? Even though our body absorbs roughly 50% of magnesium in foods, in the world today, the soil that food giving plants are grown on is severely depleted of nutrients such as magnesium. Even the water we drink from plastic bottles and home water purifiers/filters have little to no minerals in it because the modern purification methods not only filter out dirt, chlorine and chemicals but also minerals like magnesium. This drinking water also contains fluoride (also found in toothpaste and oral hygienic products), which binds to magnesium and prevents absorption. In addition, due to so many other modern world problems including the food today (regular consumption of caffeine, refined sugars, fatty foods and packaged meals), mercury fillings in teeth, drugs such as antibiotics, birth control pills and stress, many of us become have deficient in one of the most abundant minerals: magnesium.
To use magnesium oil for migraine headaches, spray it on your shoulders, neck and upper back. If you’re a beginner, I suggest spraying it on the bottoms of your feet, hand palms and stomach first, as these are less sensitive areas. Note: It’s going to sting/irritate your skin a bit so you can keep a wet washcloth nearby to wipe it away after 15-20 minutes, as by this time most of the magnesium will be absorbed. The stinging is said to vary according to how deficient you are: people with high deficiencies have it sting worse so they should start spraying the magnesium oil on less sensitive areas first. Use the magnesium oil spray 2 times: once in the morning and at night. It can also be used when you feel a migraine coming on to reduce its magnitude.
If the stinging is unbearable for you, place a tsp of coconut oil on your palm, spray on the magnesium oil, mix then rub it on your skin. The coconut oil is soothing and so it will lessen the sting.
Where to Get Magnesium Oil
The best magnesium oil so far has got to be this one from Ancient Minerals. It’s an 8 oz bottle and has a lot of other uses and benefits as well – not just for staving off migraines! It can be used as a deodorant (just spray once on a cotton pad and dab on to your pits), as a muscle cramp reliever and a natural stress buster as well. Simply spray on your shoulders, back, stomach and bottoms of feet.
Other Remedies for Migraines that Work
The thing with migraines is that you can feel like almost nothing works in getting rid of them. Even if you take a couple of pain killers, the migraine will brutally go on without giving any indication that the pain killer is even working! For me, my migraines almost always end when I throw up, however there are a few other things that worked in reducing the pain and providing quick relief:
- Take 2 aspirin tablets (325 to 650 mg for adults) immediately you experience signs of an oncoming migraine. I usually start getting visual disturbances like black spots, not being able to see the thing I’m focusing on clearly and pin pricking sensations on my hands and fingers. Even though you might feel like the aspirins are not working, they are – they help the migraine go away quicker.
- Apply essential oils. Mix 5 drops of peppermint essential oil in 1 tbsp of coconut oil and massage this on your forehead, temples, behind the ears and neck. The cooling and numbing sensation takes away the throbbing pain.
- Go to a quiet dark room and curl up on the bed. Migraines usually come with visual disturbances and sensitivity to light & sound, on top of the worst headache in a lifetime. Being away from light & sound while lying on a soft bed can ease your whole body and give you some peace. And if you have trouble speaking/ find yourself slurring/just can’t speak, you wouldn’t want to be near anyone.
- Drink water. Don’t guzzle down a gallon but try slowly sipping a glass of cool spring water in a dark room to release tension and get hydrated.
- Don’t fight it. If you feel like throwing up, then by all means THROW UP. Personally, throwing up means SALVATION. I’m finally cured. The moment I finish throwing up, I’m basically back to normal, I feel fresh and the migraine is completely gone.
(1) Maukop A, et al. Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium. J Neural Transm 2012 May;119(5):575-9