What Causes Migraines? How Magnesium Might Help

Anyone who suffers from migraines knows they are extremely painful headaches.  Sometimes they are accompanied by other symptoms such as visual impairment (blurry vision or seeing an aura) or nausea.  It is possible to suffer from migraines with aura or without aura.

If you have a migraine with aura, you could see stars or lines.  You may also experience a temporary blind spot roughly 30 minutes before the headache starts.  If you do not have an aura, you may have other symptoms before the headache starts.  These could be cravings for sweets, extreme thirst, sleepiness, or even depression.what causes migraines

What Causes Migraines?

Although much about what causes migraines isn’t understood, genetics and environmental factors seem to both play a role.

Migraines may be caused by changes in the brain stem and its interactions with the trigeminal nerve, a major pain pathway.  The trigeminal nerve is responsible for sensations in the face as well as some motor functions like biting and chewing.  Imbalances in the brain chemicals, including serotonin (which helps regulate pain in your nervous system) is also likely involved.

Serotonin levels drop during migraine attacks.  This may trigger your trigeminal system to release substances called neuropeptides, which travel to your brain’s outer covering.  The result is headache pain and a valuable clue as to how serotonin may be associated with what causes migraines.

How Can Magnesium Help?

Although there is no cure for migraines, you can manage the condition by reducing the frequency of attacks and reducing pain once an attack starts.

Serotonin is dependent on magnesium.  The biochemical reactions necessary for serotonin cannot function properly if you are suffering from low magnesium.

People with migraines often have lower levels of magnesium than people who do not have migraines.  Alcohol and stress along with poor diet have led to as much as 80% of America being magnesium deficient.

Several studies suggest that increasing magnesium levels may reduce the frequency of migraine attacks.  In one study, people who took magnesium reduced the frequency of attacks by 41.6%.  Some studies also suggest that magnesium may be helpful for women whose migraines are triggered by their periods.

How Can I Increase My Magnesium Levels?

There are two ways to increase magnesium levels in your body.  You can eat a diet high packed full of foods high in magnesium or you can take a daily magnesium supplement.  Many experts recommend a combination of the two.