Can Magnesium Cause Headaches?

Author: Richard Horgan


Magnesium does NOT cause headaches.  

Magnesium is actually better known for reducing headache pain rather than causing it.

Research indicates that up to 50% of patients suffering from acute migraine attacks have are found to have low magnesium levels.  Magnesium is responsible for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body including those involving migraine related neurotransmitters and receptors such as nitric oxide synthesis and release as well as effecting serotonin receptors.   Though it isn't quite clear the exact role that magnesium levels play in the onset of headache symptoms, several studies have established that the administration of magnesium can treat the symptoms effectively. [1][2]

Magnesium Supplementation and Headaches

Research is indicating that oral magnesium supplementation may be effective in preventing headaches.  One study concluded that supplementation of 600 mg of magnesium ((trimagnesium dicitrate) daily, reduced migraine symptoms in 41.6% of the participating subjects by week 9.  Though the study was successful, 18% of the subjects did experience diarrhea, while 4% experienced gastric irritation, which are common side-effects of excessive magnesium intake. [3]

Intravenous Magnesium and Headaches

When the magnesium is administered intravenously rather than orally, the mineral's impact on headaches can be even more astonishing. One study found that four out of five patients experienced a complete elimination of their headache pain within 15 minutes of an intravenous injection. [4]

Except for brief flushing, no other side effects were observed. Intriguingly, those patients who failed to respond to the intravenous injections had, in a majority of cases, a higher level of magnesium in their blood than those responding. In other words, for whatever reason, their metabolism failed to conventionally ingest the intravenously administered jolts.

More Research Required

The lion's share of scientific and anecdotal data confirms this idea of a positive, rather than negative, link between magnesium and headaches. There are also a number of doctor-authored books about this subject.

In one of these, a practitioner explains how his own health battles led him to discover the widespread link between magnesium deficiency and various ailments, including headaches. He argues that women are more susceptible to these types of deficiencies than men, that the headaches experienced by each sex are very different, and that magnesium's impacts are far less understood in the GP medical community than those, say, of calcium. [5]

Compounding the lack of knowledge in this mineral area is the fact that the standard test for magnesium deficiency can often be faulty. Once a person gains an understanding of the different kinds of medical magnesium products and where the compound is stored in the body, they can begin to get closer to proving this beneficial link between the mineral and reduced headache pain.


Works Cited

[1] Office of Dietary Supplements-National Institute of Health

[2] Journal of Clinical Neuroscience; Mauskop A
Role of Magnesium in the Pathogenesis and Treatment of Migraines
1998; Volume: 5; No: 1, Pages: 24-27

[3] Cephalalgia-an International Journal of Headache; Peikert A
Prophylaxis of Migraine with Oral Magnesium: Results from a Prospective, Multi-Center, Placebo-Controlled and Double-Blind Randomized Study
1996; Volume: 16; No: 4; Pages: 257-263

[4] Headache; Mauskop A
Intravenous Magnesium Sulfate Rapidly Alleviates Headaches of Various Types
1996; Volume: 36; No: 3, Pages: 154-160

[5] Cohen, Jay S.
The Magnesium Solution for Migraine Headaches
Garden City Park, N.Y.: Square One, 2004. Print.

Resource: University of Maryland Medical Center
Migraine Headaches

Expert Opinion 

Quote:  "Intravenous infusion of 1 gram of MgSO4 results in rapid relief of headache pain in patients with low serum IMg2+ levels. Measurement of serum IMg2+ levels may have a practical application in many types of headache patients. Low serum and brain tissue ionized magnesium levels may precipitate headache symptoms in susceptible patients."

Source:   A, Mauskop. "Intravenous magnesium sulfate rapidly alleviates headaches of various types."
Headache 36.3 (1996): 1540160. Print.

Quote:   "In addition to magnesium, there are other natural, non-drug therapies that can be useful in the prevention of migraine headaches. These include riboflavin, feverfew, butterbur, SAMe, and combination therapies."

Source:     Jay S Cohen   The Magnesium Solution for Migraine Headaches

purplearrowGlossary of Terms

Intravenous: means "within a vein." It usually refers to giving medications or fluids through a needle or tube inserted into a vein. 
Medline Plus

Oral: f, given through, or involving the mouth.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Serotonin: a hormone and neurotransmitter, 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), found in many tissues, including blood platelets, intestinal mucosa, the pineal body, and the central nervous system; it has many physiologic properties including inhibition of gastric secretion, stimulation of smooth muscles, and production of vasoconstriction.

purple arrowCite this Article

"Can Magnesium Cause Headaches?." Sophisticated Edge. N.p., n.d. Web. . <>.  

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to treat or diagnose any health problems or illnesses without consulting a physician. It is not meant to take the place of health care or services you may need. Please consult a physician with any questions you may have regarding your health.

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