More women than men experience migraines. Many are related to ovulation so they normally occur in women age 20 to 50 years old. But men also get them too–I know–I was one of them! 25 million Americans suffer from this debilitating disease. Before women experience menopause, estrogen levels rise prior to their period. This causes a shift of magnesium in the blood into the bone and muscle.

Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of The Magnesium Miracle, states, “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 of calcium on the blood. Tiny blood clots are said to clog up brain 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. Diet, stress and alcohol can also contribute to migraines. Magnesium relaxes blood vessels and allows them to dilate, reducing the spasms and constrictions that can cause migraines.”

A study in 2001 found that magnesium is deficient in people with migraines and many other types of headaches. When migraine sufferers with low levels of ionic magnesium were given intravenous magnesium, they experienced complete alleviation of their symptoms, including sensitivity to light and sound. Later double-blind, placebo-controlled trials produced mixed results but Dr. Mauskop pointed out that the mixed results were “most likely because both magnesium deficient and non-deficient patients were included in these trials.” Clearly, if researchers want to show that magnesium deficiency is a cause of migraine, it’s important to test for magnesium deficiency using the ionized magnesium test beforehand; otherwise, the result will be seriously flawed as you will have people without a magnesium deficiency and, of course, they won’t show any benefit to adding magnesium to their diet. This is what happened in these later tests but this test flaw of including magnesium sufficient patients was buried in the study and most doctors never realized how it affected the findings. These dubious results serve pharmaceutical purposes by clouding the issue and allowing them to focus attention on drug therapy and away from nutrition.

A study in 2016 found that the likelihood of migraine attacks is 35 times greater in sufferers who have low serum magnesium levels. You would think that since the pain of migraines is excruciating, this would make headline news or at least be common knowledge to doctors. Unfortunately, the drug paradigm continues to emphasize chemical approaches to solving the migraine problem. The latest class of migraine drugs developed in the 1990s, called triptans, involve about 16 FDA approved drugs based on tryptamine. They manipulate serotonin but the actual mechanism of how they work is still unknown. Triptans have proven more dangerous than helpful. The success rate for triptans is a measly 20 percent. A 2013 study found a significant cardiovascular risk for at least 5 million people taking these drugs.

For more information on the importance of whole-food supplementation as opposed to drug therapy, see my book.

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