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Magnesium: A Natural Remedy for Migraine

Migraine is more than just a headache; it is a neurological condition which may present as a debilitating episode of intense pain, often accompanied by nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and other symptoms. While various medications exist to manage migraine, many individuals seek natural remedies to complement their treatment plans. One such remedy that has gained attention for its potential migraine-relief benefits with good level of evidence is magnesium. Magnesium has the best level of evidence for the treatment and prevention of migraine with aura. Moreover, the benefits of magnesium extend beyond migraine, influencing sleep patterns and overall well-being.

The Link Between Magnesium, Migraine, and Sleep:

Magnesium is a vital mineral that plays a crucial role in numerous bodily functions, including muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. In 2012, the American Headache Society and American Academy of Neurology gave magnesium a level B rating for migraine prevention signifying that it is "probably effective" at preventing migraine. Research suggests that individuals who suffer from migraine often have lower levels of magnesium compared to those who don't. While this does not imply causation, it does open the door to exploring magnesium supplementation as a potential solution for migraine sufferers. Measuring magnesium is often challenging as most magnesium is stored in bones and red blood cells, and thus red blood cell level magnesium is the recommended method of assessment over serum magnesium.

The Role of Magnesium in Sleep:

Beyond its implications for migraine relief, magnesium has been associated with improved sleep quality. Magnesium plays a crucial role in the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation and reducing stress – both key components for achieving restful sleep. Additionally, magnesium may contribute to the regulation of melatonin, the hormone responsible for signaling the body that it's time to sleep. As such, magnesium becomes a valuable ally not only for migraine management but also for those seeking a natural approach to better sleep.

How Magnesium Works:

The precise mechanisms by which magnesium influences migraines and sleep are not fully understood, but researchers propose several theories. One possibility is that magnesium stops cortical spreading depression which is believed to be responsible for visual and sensory effects of aura. Magnesium may also play a role in the preventing the constriction of blood vessels. Additionally, magnesium may play a role in reducing inflammation and blocking pain signals including the release of substance P and glutamate in the brain. It may also promote platelet function. In the context of sleep, magnesium's ability to promote relaxation and modulate the parasympathetic nervous system contributes to its positive impact on sleep quality.

Types of Magnesium Supplements:

Before incorporating magnesium into your migraine and sleep management plan, it's essential to understand the different types of magnesium supplements available:

  1. Magnesium Oxide: Often used to address magnesium deficiencies, but it has a lower absorption rate and may cause gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea and cramping in some individuals. This is the most well studied oral supplement. It is commonly dosed as a pill at 400 mg for migraine. Magnesium oxide is pregnancy category A which means it can be used safely in pregnancy. Of course, this article does not constitute medical advice and you should consult with your physician and/or obstetrician/gynecologist prior to starting or adding magnesium supplements to your regimen.

  2. Magnesium Citrate: More easily absorbed than magnesium oxide and is a popular choice for those looking to boost magnesium levels.

  3. Magnesium Glycinate: Known for its higher absorption rate and lower likelihood of causing digestive discomfort, making it a suitable option for many individuals.

It's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplement regimen, as they can provide personalized advice based on your medical history, specific needs, and considerations for both migraine and sleep health. Not everyone is a candidate for magnesium supplements. Excess magnesium can lead to health conditions including arrhythmias, diarrhea, memory loss and low blood pressure.

Dosage and Safety Considerations:

The recommended magnesium dosage for migraine prevention and improved sleep varies, and individual responses to supplements can differ. Starting with a lower dose and gradually increasing it while monitoring for any adverse effects is a prudent approach but again before starting magnesium supplements, one should speak with their healthcare professional. Research suggests that daily oral magnesium may help reduce menstrual migraine.

It's crucial to note that excessive magnesium intake can lead to diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues. Therefore, it's essential to stay within the recommended daily limits and seek guidance from a healthcare provider.


While magnesium supplementation shows promise in migraine prevention and relief, as well as in improving sleep quality, it's essential to approach it as part of a comprehensive migraine and sleep management plan. Lifestyle factors, dietary choices, and stress management also play pivotal roles in mitigating migraine frequency and severity while fostering healthy sleep patterns.

If you're considering incorporating magnesium into your routine, consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable form and dosage for your specific needs. Remember, managing migraines and optimizing sleep is a holistic process, and integrating natural remedies like magnesium may contribute to a more comprehensive and personalized approach to finding relief and restful nights.


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