Approximately 1 out of 10 people suffer from migraines, a severe type of headache that may cause throbbing or pounding pain on one or both sides of the head, around the eyes, sinus area and/or the back of the neck. If you’ve never had one, immediately drop to your knees and give thanks. If you’re one of the 28 million Americans that suffer from migraines, you know first hand how horrible they are. Whether you’ve experienced them infrequently, periodically or regularly, they come on unexpectedly and can stop you in your tracks.
Often they bring other symptoms with them including, dizziness, nausea, sensitivity to light or sound, mood changes and auras that impair vision. Medical experts theorize they're caused by an imbalance of serotonin, a naturally occurring chemical in the brain. When serotonin levels are off, blood vessels on the surface of the brain expand, become inflamed and agitate nerve endings resulting in pain.
I started getting regular monthly migraines in my late twenties. I suffered with them for seven years before getting proper medical treatment. When I told my doctor how long I’d been dealing with them on my own, he was shocked. My self-prescribed treatment was washing down a couple of Tylenol with a can of Diet Coke. In the early days, the combination of Acetaminophen and caffeine helped to a small degree. My doctor chuckled, “That's like trying to put out a four alarm fire with a garden hose”.
The migraines gradually increased in frequency, regularity and severity with passing years. They seemed to come and go consistently with my monthly cycle. And interestingly, I never had a single headache during any of my five pregnancies. After my last child was born, my hormones normalized and the migraines returned with a vengeance. At times the pain was so severe I couldn’t function. I was completely debilitated three to five consecutive days every month without fail. After talking with some of women in my family and a number of female friends, I learned about menstrual migraines and discover that many women I knew personally were suffering with them. After a lengthy headache questionnaire followed by an interview and exam, my doctor confirmed that I am indeed one of them. Yippee, lucky me!
The good news: he acknowledged their validity and offered several options for treatment and prevention. The bad news: they all involved prescription drugs. I have nothing against medication; my own charming father is, in fact, an experienced and knowledgeable pharmacist. I'm all for feeling better through the power of prescription chemistry. However, the side effects that accompany some of them are unpleasant. Furthermore, even with adequate insurance coverage, the cost can be quite high. Working with my doctor, I tried several medications containing sumatriptan, a medicine that mimics the action of serotonin, and finally get some relief.
One day I was discussing migraines with a friend and learned this alternative treatment. She had been taking the mineral supplement, magnesium under the guidance of a nutritionist. After several months, her migraines had noticeably decreased. It was enough to motivate me to do some research of my own.
There were a number of migraine related article on the Internet, but fewer than expected. My big break came when I discovered the book The Magnesium Solution for Migraine Headaches by Jay S. Cohen, MD. Immediately, I checked several on line book retailers for further details. When my copy arrived, I devoured its 62 pages in one sitting. It suggests a link between magnesium deficiency and headaches, migraines included. My doctor gave me the green light to try it as over the counter supplement. Magnesium comes in varying forms and dosages, as the book points out, so you may need to experiment with different options. The Recommended Daily Allowance is 320 milligrams for a woman and 420 milligrams for a man. I started with 250mg and increased it until I got results at 400mg. After taking it every day for two months, I got promising results. My migraines were reduced considerable in frequency and severity. I held off taking my prescription medication, using it only when in dire need. At the suggestion of my pharmacist, I paired it with vitamin B-2 for additional benefits. After a total of five months, my migraines are gone. My Imitrex sits untouched. Although I'm not completely headache free, it's a vast improvement over my previous stint of four to five days a month with debilitating migraines.
I’ve tried different forms of magnesium and settled on what works best for me: 400mg of magnesium oxide taken simultaneously with 100mg of vitamin B-2. If I do get a headache, it is typically a dull one, which is usually halted with over the counter pain relievers such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen or Excedrin for Migraines (my personal favorite).
I am by no means an expert in this area, just an ordinary woman who has benefited from taking a daily magnesium supplement. I'm forever grateful to the friend who suggested this alternative. In light of my good fortune, I feel it’s my duty to fellow moms, women and migraine sufferers to spread this information so others may benefit. If you have regular headaches, consult with your doctor, pharmacist, nutritionist or alternative health care provider about magnesium. Getting relief and a higher quality of life may be easier than you think.
All user-generated information on this site is the opinion of its author only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. Members and guests are responsible for their own posts and the potential consequences of those posts detailed in our Terms of Service.