Studies have shown that migraine sufferers tend to have low brain magnesium during migraine attacks (1) and may also suffer from magnesium deficiency. (2,3)
Magnesium deficiency may also play a particularly important role in menstrual migraines (4).
Two controlled trials have shown that oral magnesium supplementation (taking in by mouth) is effective in headache prevention (5,6) however we would assert that transdermal magnesium (via the skin) will be even more effective because more magnesium is absorbed, much more efficiently.
As if to prove our point about oral magnesium a third study was negative (7), but this result has been attributed to the use of a poorly absorbed magnesium salt, as diarrhea occurred in almost half of patients in the treatment group.
This is because magnesium taken orally is a laxative!
In general, the published trials yielded mixed results, with favourable effects reported for acute treatment of patients with aura and possibly also menstrual migraine prevention.
Ramadan NM, Halvorson H, Vande-Linde A. Low brain magnesium in migraine. Headache. 1989;29:590–593.
Trauinger A, Pfund Z, Koszegi T, et al. Oral magnesium load test in patients with migraine. Headache. 2002;42: 114–119.
Mauskop A, Altura BM. Role of magnesium in the pathogenesis and treatment of migraine. Clin Neurosci. 1998; 5:24–27.
Mauskop A, Altura BT, Altura BM. Serum ionized magnesium in serum ionized calcium/ionized magnesium ratios in women with menstrual migraine. Headache. 2001;42:242–248.
Facchinetti F, Sances G, Borella P, et al. Magnesium prophylaxis of menstrual migraine: effects on intracellular magnesium. Headache. 1991; 31:298–301.
Peikert A, Wilimzig C, Kohne-Volland R. Prophylaxis of migraine with oral magnesium: results from a prospective, multicenter, placebo-controlled and double-blind randomized study. Cephalalgia. 1996;16:257–263.
Pfaffenrath V, Wessely P, Meyer C, et al. Magnesium in the prophylaxis of migraine—a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Cephalalgia. 1996; 16:436–440.