I’m writing this posting because my blog followers asked for the recipe I use in the migraine cream I mentioned a few weeks ago. As promised, that recipe can be found in the bottom part of this posting along with several other magnesium recipes. To simply give you the recipe without also sharing with you how to use it would just not be very nice, nor helpful to you. So I’m sharing a few do’s and don’ts that I hope you’ll use along your path to better health.
But before I get into any of that info I must pronounce a disclaimer: I am not a licensed professional in any medical or nutritional field. All information on this blog is for information sharing purposes only and is not to be taken as medical advice. I encourage you to consult with your medical service providers for more information and guidance.
Magnesium and Migraines
The Down and Dirty: Magnesium is a mineral found in our bodies and in many foods. It is essential for maintaining normal muscle and nerve function, keeping a healthy immune system, maintaining heart rhythm, and building strong bones. Magnesium is also involved in at least 300 biochemical reactions in the body. A deficiency in magnesium can lead to many health problems to include migraines.
Current data shows that over 80% of people with migraines are deficient in this nutrient. Most migraineurs do not understand the importance of keeping their magnesium stores sufficiently stocked. Most don’t know how to keep it balanced within their systems. Most doctors don’t teach this information to their patients. Some doctors are not aware of the intricacies of this issue either.
The Good News: Correcting this deficit can (and almost always does) result in markable improvements for migraineurs. There’s tons of general information, guidance, and medical studies that anyone with access to the internet can use to 1) determine if they are deficient in magnesium, and 2) learn how to balance their magnesium levels fairly easily. This is especially true if you take the time to do your nutrient research and homework along with your nutritional research and homework.
Magnesium supplementation isn’t for everyone. There are some health conditions that must be very closely monitored by healthcare professionals – especially when dealing with changing magnesium levels. This is especially true if you you suffer from renal problems or kidney failure. Magnesium also lowers blood pressure and relaxes muscles. If you’re on blood-pressure-lowering medication, your blood pressure may get too low, and if you take muscle relaxants, you increase your risk for side effects of that medication. It’s my understanding that if you have such conditions you may still be able to reap the benefits of magnesium supplements – but be sure to do so only under close supervision of your doctor.
I have a list of recommended reading further down in this posting. I encourage you to use it as a jumping off point in your education about magnesium and how it may improve your health…. especially if you are plagued with migraines!
Do Learn Which Forms of Magnesium Works Best For You
Magnesium is available in different forms and can be administered in a variety of ways. Some forms are more bioavailable than others. The form most often recommended for supplementing with (by many doctors) is the least bioavailable and the one with the least attractive side affect. But it’s also the cheapest and easiest to find in your local department store. Recognize that quick, easy, and cheap is probably not going to work for most migraineurs. Magnesium in citrate, chelate and chloride forms are absorbed better than magnesium supplements in oxide and magnesium sulfate form. Here’s a bit about the different types of magnesium supplements that you’ll likely come across:
- Magnesium Chelate – highly absorbable by the body and the kind found in foods naturally. This type is bound to multiple amino acids (proteins) and used to restore magnesium levels.
- Magnesium Citrate – magnesium combined with citric acid. This may have a laxative effect in some cases when taken in high doses, but is otherwise safe to use for improving digestion and preventing constipation.
- Magnesium Chloride – These salts are typical ionic halides, being highly soluble in water. It comes in flakes and is used to make an oil (See Below Recipe). Athletes sometimes use magnesium oil to increase energy and endurance, to dull muscle pain, and to heal wounds or skin irritation. Many people, including myself, use it daily for migraine prevention.
- Magnesium Sulfate – is often encountered as the heptahydrate sulfate mineral epsomite (MgSO4·7H2O), commonly called Epsom salt. It has a variety of uses for example Athletes use it to soothe sore muscles, while gardeners use it to improve crops. Epsom salt is also effective in the removal of splinters. Epsom Salt can also be used as a bath or foot soak for migraine relief although our bodies don’t absorb it as readily as it does the above mentioned Magnesium Chloride.
- Magnesium Glycinate – highly absorbable and less likely to cause laxative effects than some other magnesium supplements.
It’s worth mentioning here that magnesium is sometimes provided intravenously at the hospital for various conditions such as for heart attacks and migraines, etc. But this article is more about supplementing with magnesium at home.
As for me: I get as much magnesium as I can from my daily diet, primarily in nuts, seeds, and green leafy foods. I also supplement daily with magnesium chloride (via ReMag supplement) and magnesium chloride oil (transdermal) that I make at home using magnesium bath flakes and spray or smooth the cream on my body. See recipes below.
Do Keep Magnesium Balanced
You know how some drugs don’t play well with others? How some play okay together, but if you take one, also have to take another to combat a problem the first one causes? Or how one drug helps another drug do it’s job better? What a crazy maze the pharmaceutical world can present to us! Well the world of nutrients has some similarities. And as it pertains to magnesium, it has some challenges coexisting with too much calcium. And it plays well with proper amounts of vitamin D and is sometimes prescribed along side of vitamin B2. Many drugs can also keep your magnesium stores out of wack. There are a few drugs that may need to be adjusted as you get your magnesium levels up to par.
Do Replenish Magnesium Throughout the Day
Magnesium is used up throughout the day as we go about our business. If you take all your magnesium in the morning and then use it up by noon, your afternoon will most likely be more challenging. It’s important to spread out your magnesium supplementations.
As for me: I supplement my magnesium morning, mid day, and within an hour of going to bed.
Don’t Ignore the Importance of Magnesium
Many a migraineur has tried magnesium as a preventer and did not find improvement. If that was you I encourage you to consider how you did your supplementing. Consider what type of magnesium you used and how often during the day you supplemented, and your overall magnesium intake amounts. Additionally I’d encourage you to look at what types of things you may have been doing, (what foods you ate, your stress levels, what meds you were on, etc.) that may have been depleting your magnesium stores. Then consider whether or not trying magnesium again may be appropriate for you.
Don’t Take My Word for It
As I mentioned before – I’m not a medical professional. Be sure to research the magnesium and migraine connections information available to you. When making decisions about your health and how magnesium might make a difference with your migraine management – include medical study information, general information, and medical advice from your personal healthcare team.
What works for me may not be right for you. I know that the main reason my magnesium supplement routine works for me is because I use it in connection with a Low Carb, High Fat diet (+ sometimes Ketogenic diet), Electrolyte Balancing, and a Low-Stress Mental Health routine. If not combined with those additional elements, it would not be as beneficial to me as it is. But some people have great success with lowering the number of migraines they get just by adding more magnesium daily without any other changes in their lifestyle.
I have had my fair share of extended cheating or falling off the wagon with my dietary routine, as well as my mental health practices (meditations). And I can tell you that every time I step away from what I know works for me for an extended period of time – that breakaway results in negative affects. Now it doesn’t bother me or my system at all if I do an occasional cheat (I mean now that I’ve got things normalized). It’s only when I change my norm significantly that my migraines increase again.
Do Your Research and Homework
I was a data analyst by trade for 20+ years. Research was (and still is) something that comes a bit natural to me. If you tend to be a person who simply follows guidance offered without question (whether from a professional source or otherwise) – I encourage you to stretch beyond your normal level of acceptance. Take time out to take care of you, by researching more about magnesium for migraines. Write down questions as they come to you. Then research some more to find the answers. When you talk with your medical professionals, take your questions, concerns, and your understandings into the office with you and share that with them.
You WILL find conflicting information along the way. That’s okay. Not everyone agrees with everyone else – on any subject ever! That’s what makes us each a unique snowflake. Find what feels right to you. Be your own health advocate.
- Magnesium Treats Migraines – From Carolyn Dean MD ND (I also recommend her book: Magnesium Miracle)
- Magnesium & Migraines – From Christina Peterson MD on the Daily Headache website
- Headache Toolbox-Magnesium – From the Journal of Head and Face Pain (An older article but appears to still be relevant.)
- Should You Be Taking Magnesium – From Migraine Survival website
- Easy Fix, Magnesium Deficiency and Migraines – From Migraine Again website
- The Migraine, Magnesium Connection – From Dr David Williams
- Magnesium for Migraines – From Healthline website
Do Be Patient with Yourself
Like so many other things in life, supplementing with magnesium to minimize migraines is not a quick fix thing. If you’re deficient in magnesium, it’s going to take a while for your body to get enough in there and be balanced again. Some folks will notice a difference within just a few days. However, it might take a few weeks before you see a significant difference. It’s more likely you’ll see some positive changes within a couple of days, and even more improvements during the next couple of weeks. At some point (maybe 3-4 months down the road) you’ll feel a leveling off type of affect. That’s when you’ll know you’re no longer deficient and really just need to maintain from there forward.
Keep in mind that so many things play into how much and how often you’ll need magnesium. No two people are going to be exactly the same. And it’s likely that your own course of action will need to be tweaked periodically as well. As your stress level changes or life events go in new/different directions and things such as hormonal changes, exercise activities, dietary changes, and medicine changes can and most likely will require you to take a step back and look at your magnesium level / supplement needs.
So remember that even if/when you develop a solid magnesium supplement protocol – check in with yourself every so often and see if it needs a bit of tweaking up or down to meet your needs even better.
For those of you I haven’t completely overwhelmed or scared off – here’s the recipes that I use for applying magnesium transdermally:
- 1/2 cup Magnesium Chloride Flakes
- 1/2 cup distilled or filtered water
- A glass bowl or glass measuring cup
- A glass or plastic spray bottle
- Glass jar with lid (to store extra oil)
Magnesium Oil Instructions Boil the filtered or distilled water. Use distilled water to extend the shelf life of the mixture. Put the Magnesium Chloride Flakes in the glass bowl or measuring cup and the pour the boiling water over it. Stir well until completely dissolved. Let cool completely and store in the spray bottle and/or jar with lid.
To Use: Spritz 3-5 sprays of the oil on your feet, arms, legs, or torso and let dry before putting cloths on. Takes just a few minutes. You can also spray on your hand and rub the oil on neck or around your forehead or scalp. Keep away from your eyes. Do not eat.
NOTES: Most people make their magnesium oil at this same 1:1 ratio. You can use less magnesium flakes if the 1:1 ratio is too strong and stings too much. But remember, you may need to apply more often. And I encourage you not to apply the oil after shaving your legs. It will sting if you do. If your skin dries out in the areas where you’ve used Magnesium oil – apply the magnesium cream afterwards. If you prefer – you can wash the oil off after about 15 minutes of letting it soak into your skin.
Magnesium Body Cream:
- 1/2 cup of your favorite coconut body butter or cream (Make sure it is pure and has no chemicals or artificial ingredients in it. I use the cream pictured above and I purchase it at Walmart. See OPTIONAL NOTE below
- 3-4 Tablespoons of magnesium oil (see above recipe)
- A glass bowl
- A hand mixer or electric whisk
- Glass or plastic containers to put your cream in (I use bar-soap and lip balm travel containers you can pick up from most department stores.)
Magnesium Body Cream Instructions Put all the ingredients into your glass bowl and using a hand mixer or whisk, whip the oil and body butter/cream together for approximately 2-3 minutes on medium high speed or until thoroughly combined. It should be creamy without any puddles of the oil. Then scrape the mixture into your containers and use as needed/wanted.
To Use: Apply this cream the same way you would most any other lotion or body butter. Rub it on your feet, arms, legs, or torso. Keep away from your eyes. Do not eat.
NOTES: You may want to cover your bowl with your hand or a lid when mixing – so you don’t spray oil all over your kitchen. If you’re into using essential oils in your body products you can add them after the oil and body butter/cream have been combined and just before you put it into your containers.
OPTIONAL NOTE: If you don’t have a coconut body cream to use you can use a combination of unrefined coconut oil+shea butter and a few other ingredients. Since that’s not the way I make mine, I don’t have a recipe. But you can get one easily by running a web search using “Magnesium Body Butter recipe” and you’re sure to find several options.
Magnesium Foot Soak
Put 1/2 – 1 cup of Magnesium Chloride Flakes in bowl or bucket or foot bath size tub with very warm water to a fill line that won’t overflow your vessel when you put your feet in. Soak your feet in it for 15-30 minutes.
NOTE: If your skin feels like there’s a slight oil coating, then you have enough magnesium in the container. You can add more or less magnesium based on your preference and experience after you’ve had several foot soaks. I use a large mixing bowl that lives under the sink in my bathroom and I do a foot soak at least 3 times a week.
Magnesium Body Soak
Put 1-2 cups of Magnesium Chloride Flakes in your tub with very warm water. Soak your entire body for 15-30 minutes.
NOTE: If your skin feels like there’s a slight oil coating, then you have enough magnesium in the tub. You can add more or less magnesium based on your preference and experience after you’ve had several magnesium baths.
When and How I Use Transdermal Magnesium
I use magnesium as a migraine preventer and sometimes as an abortive. Which means I use it everyday the same way I used to take preventer meds. I’m glad to say that I no longer swallow any preventer meds 😀 and I use it as the first course of action against an oncoming migraine the same way I used to take Triptans.
Spray Oil – Twice a day. Once first thing in the morning and then again in the evening. Sprayed on my feet and let dry before putting socks on. Sprayed on my shoulders. Sometimes another spritz after sweating from outdoor activity or exercise. And always after I’ve showered/bathed no matter when that may be in the day/night.
Body Cream – Two to four times a day. Once first thing in the morning and then again in the evening. Applied to my arms and legs and sometimes to my feet after I’ve done my foot soak and if I have any sore muscle areas on my body they also get covered. I also apply to my neck and shoulders a couple more times throughout the day. And always after I’ve showered/bathed no matter when that may be in the day/night. If I feel a migraine coming on and I can’t stop to soak my feet, I’ll apply the cream to the area where I’m feeling the possible migraine + to my arms and shoulders + take a few minutes for mindfulness/meditation. This will stop a migraine in it’s path if I catch it during the prodome or early headache phase.
Foot Soak – Three times a week. Usually in the evening shortly before bed and usually combined with meditation. If I feel a migraine coming on I’ll soak my feet while meditating if it’s not inconvenient to stop and do so. This will stop a migraine in it’s path if I catch it during the prodome or early headache phase.
Body Soak – Two times a week.
Magnesium Alone is Not the Full Answer
As I mentioned in the opening statement of this posting, I wrote this article in response to requests for the coconut oil+magnesium cream recipe I mentioned in an earlier blog entry. Interestingly enough no one has asked me about my full migraine management protocol. The full measures is what keeps my migraines at bay. Not just the magnesium cream. Unfortunately it takes more effort than simply applying a lotion to my skin each morning and evening. Wouldn’t it be oh so wonderful if that’s all it took?!!
Just to fill in the blanks for those who may be a wee bit more curious let me tell you that during the last couple of years I’ve made significant changes to my life style that resulted in:
- Healing my gut naturally and I’m no longer taking Nexium or any other meds for tummy/gut issues
- Healing my asthma naturally and I’m no longer taking any asthma meds
- Significantly reducing migraines and the few that manage to break through (when I cheat on my protocol) are milder and short lived. 😀
Here’s hoping you are having healthy and happy days too!