Magnesium helps relax blood vessels, reducing migraine if you have one. Stress and lack of magnesium in the diet can also lead to other disease conditions related to the heart and vascular systems with migraine as one of the signs. Eat more of the following while avoiding sugar: dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, spinach, swiss chard, soybeans, sesame seeds, halibut, black beans, sunflower seeds, cashews and almonds. Destress and take a bath of epsom salts.
One of the most important contributors to deficiency of magnesium is high blood sugar, including diabetes. Obesity is related to magnesium deficiency, too, but this relationship is currently thought to be the result of blood sugar elevations.
Surprisingly, it looks like the relationship between low magnesium diets and high blood sugar goes in both directions—in other words, eating a diet bereft of good magnesium sources tends to lead to poor blood sugar control. This poor blood sugar control in turn exacerbates the low magnesium level. To break up this feed-forward cycle, a group of nutritionists affiliated with Tufts University suggested that older adults should be counseled about the importance of eating green vegetables, legumes, and whole grains as sources of magnesium.
The rate of magnesium deficiency goes up with age, with average intakes in the elderly dropping by 25% or more from middle-aged adults. African-Americans have much higher rates of magnesium deficiency than Caucasians.
Older patients with heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) also have been found to have high risks of magnesium deficiency. In both conditions, improving magnesium levels has been found to lead to superior outcomes in smaller research trials.
Medications can deplete magnesium levels as well. In particular, people taking diuretics should talk to their doctor about the importance of ensuring good supply of dietary magnesium.
Magnesium may play a role in the prevention and/or treatment of the following health conditions:
Coronary artery disease
Mitral valve prolapse
Congestive heart failure
COPD / Emphysema
Fatty liver disease (NASH)
Dr David Williams wrote about Migraines
Migraine Remedy #1: Peppermint Oil and Ethanol
Researchers at the University of Kiel in Germany studied the use of peppermint oil and ethanol (alcohol) in the treatment of headaches, and the mixture appears to be an inexpensive and effective treatment for headache pain.
Thirty-two patients took part in the double blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study. Dabbing a mixture of peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, and alcohol onto the participants’ foreheads and temples brought about mental and physical relaxation. This mixture, however, wasn’t effective at reducing headache pain. But when only peppermint oil and alcohol were used, the participants noticed an almost immediate reduction in headache pain.
Peppermint oil is readily available from either local pharmacies or health food stores. Before being applied topically, however, it should be diluted with ethyl alcohol.
Keep in mind, this is not common rubbing alcohol (isopropol alcohol). Ethanol (or ethyl alcohol) is grain alcohol, and the least expensive source is from the liquor store where it is sold as “pure grain alcohol.”
Migraine Remedy #2: Vitamin B2
Dr. Jean Schoenen at the University of Liege in Belgium has found that megadoses of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) can lessen the incidence of migraine headache attacks.
Dr. Schoenen’s team tested vitamin B2 on 55 mild-to-moderate migraine sufferers, ages 18 to 65. Before the study, these individuals had between two and eight attacks per month. Dr. Schoenen’s team found that patients given 400 mg of vitamin B2 per day experienced 37 percent fewer migraine attacks than individuals on a placebo, and the headaches they had were far less severe.
Dr. Schoenen’s study indicates that riboflavin therapy is as effective as currently used migraine medications. On top of that, it is much less expensive and has considerably fewer side effects. In fact, the only side effects reported were diarrhea in one woman and increased urination in another.
There are two things to keep in mind if you decide to use vitamin B2 for migraines: First, it appears that you need to take it for at least three months to get the full benefits. Second, whenever you take large doses of any one B vitamin, it’s critical to take the other B vitamins, as well. If your multivitamin/mineral contains all the B vitamins, that’s fine. If not, then I would recommend taking a B-complex. Try Freeda Vitamins; their B-complex is excellent.
Migraine Remedy #3: Stop Nighttime Teeth Grinding
Dr. Phillip Lamey, professor of oral medicine at the Royal Victoria Dental School in Belfast, recently shed some welcome light on a simple method to help prevent migraine headaches.
Dr. Lamey and his colleagues compared peptide levels in saliva samples of migraine sufferers and non-migraine sufferers. He found that people who suffered from migraines had peptide levels between 50,000 and 60,000 units, while non-migraine sufferers had levels of only around 500 units.
To lower the peptide levels in migraine sufferers, Dr. Lamey had 19 migraine patients wear an oral appliance while they slept that completely kept the occlusal surfaces of the upper teeth from contacting the lower teeth. Apparently teeth-clenching at night produces excess peptide. The results of this study were quite remarkable.
Saliva peptide levels dropped to around 500 units in migraine sufferers wearing the appliance (the same levels originally seen in non-migraine sufferers), and the number of migraine attacks dropped to an average of only 40 percent of what these patients had previously experienced. Dr. Lamey has found that the device only needs to be worn each night for about a year—for 70 percent of his patients using the device, after one year their migraine attacks ceased completely.
This treatment doesn’t help every patient suffering from migraines. It works best in those who suffer from migraines frequently (at least two per week) and in those who experience migraines upon awakening in the morning.
If you suffer from migraines, especially ones that occur first thing in the morning, a trip to your local sporting goods store may solve your problem. When selecting a mouthpiece, choose one that covers the contact surfaces of all the top teeth, including any wisdom teeth and/or back molars.
From a Chiropractor, Peri Dwyer
There is no cure for migraines. A person who is prone to migraines is called a migraineur, and it is a part of your physiological makeup. All you can do is manage them. I am a migraineur myself, as well as a chiropractic physician, so I will share some of what I’ve learned about migraines from both perspectives:
Migraines are multifactorial. Hormones, stress, poor nutrition, toxins (including alcohol), dental problems, sinus or nasal problems, stress, bright lights, loud noises, fatigue/sleep deprivation, eyestrain, neck spasms or subluxations, caffeine withdrawal, and dehydration are some common triggers, and other writers have enumerated those already. Keeping a headache diary as Dr. Maloney recommended will help you identify your triggers. Usually, just one of these factors is not sufficient to tip a migraineur over the edge into migraine territory; it takes several at once. If you know you are going to, for example, be short on sleep the week of your period, you might want to avoid alcohol, get a massage and a chiropractic adjustment, and drink extra water that week. That would also not be a good time to schedule elective dental work or take on a big project with a short deadline.
Classic migraine triggers are: chocolate, red wine, and cheese with veins. Each of these foods have substances in them which may cause vascular constriction instantly; I once had an instant migraine after merely kissing my husband who had been eating bleu cheese!
I did not have my first migraine until my 30s, when I was nursing my second child. I remember the moment quite clearly. My kitchen floor had recently been tiled with white tile, and the sunlight was streaming in the French doors. Just then, the baby began to cry, and my older child fell down and bumped her head and began to scream as well. The children’s screams began to echo in the kitchen and in my sleep-deprived ears. My vision began to break up into pixels and fade at the periphery as my head began to hurt. The combination of hormonal changes, fatigue, stress, bright light, and loud noises put me over the brink.
At my clinic, the standing order for a patient who arrived in the throes of a migraine was this: The patient was escorted to a private treatment room and placed face-up on an adjusting table with an ice pack on the back of her skull and a hot pack on her forehead, and the lights were switched off. If it was cold in the room, her hands were wrapped up with a hot pack as well. She lay there for 15 minutes or so. About half the time, this “contrast rescue” therapy was enough to abort the migraine in itself. I would then adjust her neck (usually the upper 2 neck vertebrae are involved) and we’d put her on another 15-minute cycle of contrast therapy. After 15 minutes, I would re-check the neck. Usually, in a patient with a stubborn migraine, the neck will re-subluxate within just a few minutes. Sometimes it would take 3 or 4 cycles to break the migraine. 95% of the time, the patient would walk out without the migraine at the end of treatment.
I am fortunate enough to have a prodrome when I am getting a migraine. When I feel it coming on, I take about 100 mg of caffeine, usually in the form of a small cup of coffee (preferably cold so I can get it down fast), or a large bottle of iced tea. If I haven’t eaten in a while, I might grab a small piece of candy to bring my blood sugar up quickly if it is low. I lie down and give myself contrast therapy. If another chiropractor is around, I get an immediate adjustment. After the migraine passes, I figure out what I did to get myself in trouble. Cleaning up my diet, cutting gradually back on caffeine, doing regular sinus irrigation, getting more sleep and/or exercise, drinking more water, or eliminating a “toxic” person from my life is usually needed to get me back in balance. I have come to look at migraines as a blessing in a sense, since they are an alarm system to alert me when I am neglecting to care for myself in some way.
I have had many patients who responded well with the imitrex-type triptan medications which their MDs prescribed; some did not. All drugs have potential side effects, and any triptan is a powerful drug which may cause heart attacks in predisposed patients, so many patients preferred to control their migraines using conservative methods and save the drugs as “big guns” for those times when they couldn’t take time for other therapies or when the other therapies didn’t work.
From a researcher, Steven Fowkes
I’m answering this without reading the 31 previous answers because this perspective on migraine headaches may not be represented here. But I think it’s very valuable. Thank youfor the invite.
Migraine is characterized by a unique urine pH pattern in which alkaline momentum (i.e., a deep alkaline trending pattern) is abruptly altered by the triggering of an inflammatory defense mechanism and subsequent, rapid and usually extreme acidification of urine. This pattern is also seen in asthma attacks.
Just before the inflammation is triggered, there is a prodromal state, during which time one can intervene to blunt or reverse the alkaline momentum and prevent the migraine attack. This is not easy to do. But some people have worked out ways that work for them. For one woman it was popcorn. She carried a few popped kernels in a baggie in her purse, and when she experienced the earliest symptoms of the prodromal state, she’d pop a kernel under her tongue to abort the migraine.
Metabolic Rate and Migraine
Long-term strategies relate to raising metabolic rate (the built-in acidification mechanism of the body) so that the alkaline momentum never builds to level that “crosses the line” and causes emergency acidification. This can involve exercise, mitochondrial nutrition, thyroid hormone, estrogen-control therapies, biofeedback therapies, nutrition involving “aerobic” nutrients (B6, B12, vitamins A and D3, selenium, reduced sulfur compounds, oxygen therapies, magnesium, coconut oil, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and more stuff than I can think of at the moment.
Biofeedback therapies would include measurement of (1) any energy-related performance factor (body temperature, cognitive testing, and/or strength or stamina) or (2) direct sequential urine pH measurements (nitrazene test papers) prior to and during a migraine onset.
I hope this adds to the previous answers.
What I did not mention, but I suspect that I mentioned in another Quora post on migraines, is that the metabolic condition underlying the alkaline trend that triggers the migraine is hypometabolism (low metabolic rate). The emergency inflammation of the migraine compensates for the too-low metabolic rate by kick-starting it. But this is not sustainable; it wears off. The too-low metabolic rate returns. The same thing happens from exercise, digestion, stress, which all raise metabolic rate temporarily.
So raising metabolic rate subtly, so it’s not in any way inflammatory, can ease the symptoms and shorten the migraine. I tiny dose of thyroid hormone might do this. Eating some coconut oil might do this. Taking a physiological dose of vitamin D3 (5K units) might do this. Mitochondrial nutrients might do this. Increasing CO2 might do this. Full body exposure to near infrared and red light might do this. Oxygen therapies might do this. Magnesium and selenium might do this. Once the migraine has waned, the requirement for subtlety is less.
Metabolic rate is directly related to antioxidant defense and the management of allergy and inflammation. Metabolic rate produces NADH, which couples to NADPH, which recycles glutathione and vitamin C, which recycle vitamin E. This is a core metabolic competency which the body needs and amplifies during fever. The inflammatory event of the migraine is fever-like in its role, but instead of raising metabolic rate from normal to far above normal to fight an infection, metabolic rate is raised from too low to above normal. The too-low metabolism compromises the antioxidant defense system (glutathione, ascorbate, NADPH) and lowers the set point for the fever (inflammatory) response.
Migraine is not the only manifestation of a too-low metabolic rate. As I mentioned, asthma attacks are triggered by the same process. But let me also point out that autoimmune diseases and fibromyalgia conditions are longer-term consequences of the same metabolic insufficiency state. Weak antioxidant defenses sensitize the reactivity of the immune system and weaken the immune system’s feedback control loops regarding discriminating between self and non-self.
In other answers I describe how this depends on redox control mechanisms, but here I limit myself to describing it as antioxidant defense.
This may be too complicated to understand on first reading. But I hope it better answers the intended question.
From Psychotherapist, Mike Leary
There are some who see the physical manifestation of migraines as your bodies feedback that you are living the wrong life. The problem is, there are biological dynamics going on which setup the experience. Migraine headaches result from a combination of blood vessel enlargement as well as chemicals from nerve fibers that coil around these blood vessels.
Many things, not just attitude, exacerbate the potential of a headache being activated.
- Certain foods: like red wine, smoked fish, fermented or pickled foods, aged cheese, some beans)
mono-sodium glutamate (MSG)
nitrates (like bacon, hot dogs, and salami)
avocado, banana, citrus, onions
- Hormone changes like menstrual cycles as well as birth control pills or even menopause.
- Allergies and their reactions
- Too intense sensory things like bright lights, loud noises, and certain smells
- Sleep pattern changes
- Physical or emotional stress
- Exposure to smoke or smoking yourself or even stopping smoking.
- Not eating on time.
- Tension headaches
So you can see there are things which are not psychologically based.
Now, there are things people educate themselves about their particular style and then experiment with how to reduce the symptoms. Don’t think you are going to change that blood vessel size.
Healthy lifestyle seems to be the most obvious thing which impacts naturally, with some medications to assist when it is bad.