Dr. Oz promotes magnesium for headaches

Dr. Oz : “Like Alexander Mauskop, I believe that magnesium can help—it relaxes arteries and muscles in the body, both of which can help with headaches”.   This statement in the latest issue of O, The Oprah Magazine is not very surprising coming from a cardiac surgeon – magnesium is routinely used after open heart surgery.  Unfortunately, many neurologist and other physicians treating headaches still do not recommend magnesium for their headache patients.  And this is despite all the scientific evidence and despite the recommendation of the American Academy of Neurology.  I think this is in part due to their training that emphasizes the use of drugs rather than natural approaches.  This bias is reinforced by the strong influence of the pharmaceutical industry.

84 comments
  1. Marie says: 09/16/20126:09 pm

    Dr Mauskop

    About 3years ago a burning feeling in the top part of my R leg started and in time it got worst and to the side of my leg. Then pain in my groin started. It’s a burning and sudden sting feeling. The sting attack is not always at the same spot. The pain is definitely in the soft tissue. Then the other groin started. Both legs became weak and I can’t clime stairs up or down. Can’t get up from a chair or from the bed without pain and stiffness. Couldn’t walk properly or sleep on my sides. My back pain got worst. I spend thousand of $.. The doctors still don’t know what it is. I had cortisone injections, pain killers, voltarine, Naprocsone. It did help but I have to take it constantly and am affecting my stomach. One said its Arthritis, another said a virus in my muscles, and another said Lupus. Off to the Spinal surgeon, maybe it comes from my back. No, that is not the problem. I had physiotherapy. It did not help. I went in a depression stage. That was not good. All my blood test came back, normal even Magnesium, Calcium and B12 test are normal. The doctors gave up on me.
    I found a doctor that said lets try Nupentin . In the first few days there was a change. I start off with 1 twice a day and later 3 a day and then 2 twice a day. By that time I started getting dizzy and then it was back to 3 a day. Yes it was helping but still not good enough.
    A month later my mum said to try Magnesium. I started Magnesium 75mg with 25mg Potassium Supplement, 3 times a day. In the first week it all changes. Now after 3 months, it is all under control. Even my back pain is gone, I sleep better, go for an hour walk every 2nd day. My groin pain is nearly gone. My whole body and mind is better. Last month I painted the house outside.
    I live in New Zealand and the soil has no minerals.
    I do realize that I will have to take this for a long time and then try reduce it. That is better that pain killers.

  2. Dr. Mauskop says: 09/16/20127:19 pm

    Glad to hear of your remarkable recovery due to magnesium. Blood tests for magnesium (and vitamin B12) are notoriously inaccurate, so your story is typical. You seem to have responded to a small dose of magnesium since the usual recommended daily dose is 320 mg for women and 420 mg a day for men. There is no reason to try to reduce or stop taking it – our bodies need regular replenishment of magnesium and other minerals and vitamins.

  3. Marie says: 09/16/20128:35 pm

    Thanks Dr.Mauskop.
    I still takes the Nupentin. Maybe I can reduce that a little and see how it feels. I was thinking of taking more Mag. because the pain is 90% gone, but was affraid. I do take my calcium.
    I am a women, 65 and will work my way through this.
    Thank you.

  4. Sylvia Rivera says: 09/18/20129:25 pm

    Dr. Mauskop:

    I am currently taking magnesium oxide 500 mg and vitamin B 400 (riboflavin) for migraine headaches. I am also on botox and take fiorinal when I feel a headache/migraine coming on. Are there any other supplements that you would recommend that I include with this regimen?

  5. Dr. Mauskop says: 09/18/20129:43 pm

    Several supplements and herbs have been reported to help headaches – boswellia, CoQ10, feverfew, and other. Since I cannot give individual advice to anyone I don’t know, I have to tell you that you should onsult your doctor before taking any of these supplements.

  6. Monica says: 09/19/201210:02 pm

    Is it possible to build up a tolerance to intravenous magnesium infusions? I have been getting them monthly for over a year now. First at the NyHeadache center until my insurance was no longer accepted, and now with a Dr. who used to work at your center. I noticed a great improvement for many months. Although I still suffered from migraines they were not as severe and the vomiting stopped for a while. Now they are back full force and Maxalt is not as effective as it used to be.
    Also, do you think that Atrophic Gastritis can create absorption problems with IV magnesium?
    All the best – Monica

  7. Dr. Mauskop says: 09/19/201210:10 pm

    It is not possible to build up tolerance, but it is possible that you are no longer deficient in magnesium, although if you have atrophic gastritis it is unlikely. A more likely explanation is that there might be another reason for worsening headaches. You need to discuss it with your doctor. You may also want to call our office to see if we again accept your insurance since we do accept many different ones.

  8. Bryan says: 09/20/20121:18 pm

    I just recently started taking magnesium for my migraines. I suffer from migraine with aura, which is really debilitating. I was on topamax for years before I just couldn’t take it anymore, the side effects were affecting my life and my job. So I got off of it and for about 6 months I was ok, just a migraine here and there. Here recently they have gotten much worse, and come in clusters. When I get one, I would have 5 more that week+… About a month ago I started seeing a new neurologist that put me on a low dose anti-depressant and she also recommend magnesium, butterbur, and riboflavin. For the last month I have been migraine FREE(knock on wood, thank the good lord)!!! At first I did experience a little diarrhea, but I am more “normal” now than I have ever been. Anyone who TRULY suffers from migraines knows that not everything works the same for everybody. I highly recommend you at least try the natural supplements, the side effects are extremely mild compared to dopamax! I now take a low dose anti-depressant, magnesium supplements, and Migra-Eeze(butterbur & riboflavin) for my migraines and have had a great month!

  9. Rita says: 09/26/201212:58 am

    Hello Dr. Mauskop,

    I have been taking 600mg of magnesium citrate for about 3 months. I believe it has helped with a reduction in pain and frequency of my migraines. However, it is slowing my heart rate and lowering my already low blood pressure. My heart rate is now 54bpm and my BP hovers around 99/54. This makes me extremely exhausted and dizzy all the time.

    I also take 1000mcg of methylcobalamin (B-12) and was taking 3mg of Omega-3. I stopped the Omega-3 thinking it was thinning my blood too much and causing symptoms.

    I take 600mg of calcium and 5000IU D3 daily.

    I was diagnosed with diastolic dysfunction last year and I wonder if 600mg of magnesium citrate is slowing down my heart that already has some difficulty emptying a chamber completely.

    I hate to give up magnesium. I stopped it for two days and was hit by an awful migraine.

  10. Noel says: 10/16/201211:48 am

    I am a patient of Ulcerative colitis (UC) and migraine. None of the fancy migraine medications (esp. triptans) work for my migraine and NSAIDs work like charm But I can not take them because of UC. I have been reading on PubMed about alternatives and there are tons (with a lot of IFs attached to it)

    I am taking Verapamil as a prophylactic (320mg/day) and have tried Butterbur (from Swanson). It did not help. I tried CoQ10 (400mg) daily from Puritan’s Pride, it did not help. I would like to try Mg but there are so many different salts that you just get lost in that mess. I honestly think that supplement industry should also be regulated same as prescription drugs. There is no quality control so you have no idea whose stuff is good so I usually stick to USP verified supplements but here is the case that you don’t know which salt is to be used.

    I checked bioavailability studies and all talk differently. Some say MgO is as good as a rock with only 4% bioavailability. MgCl2 and citrates seem to be better but not too sure and then there are other fancy stuff like 5-oxoproline and chelates. I wonder if even manufacturers know the benefits of it!!

    Finally, I am settling down with citrate, will start with 200-x-200mg daily. If I don’t see any effects in 3 months, I will jack it up to 200-200-200mg and wait for another 3 months to see the effect.

    My docs are pushing me for Botox but I ain’t gonna go that way. Its my last resort.

  11. Dr. Mauskop says: 10/17/20128:34 pm

    If oral magnesium does not work it may be because your magnesium level is normal or because your gut does not absorb magnesium, which is common in patients with colitis, IBS and other GI problems. Such patients are also more likely not to tolerate magnesium and develop diarrhea. It is worth trying an intravenous infusion of 1 gram of magnesium sulfate, which can provide immediate relief that can last a month. I agree with your doctor regarding Botox because it is more effective and much safer than any oral drug.

  12. WT says: 10/24/201211:30 pm

    I have been taking magnesium chloride, 520 mg for a year. It was recommended because I had a kidney stone in 2011. I had no side effects or diarrhea for the past year. In the last month I have had that problem. I noticed that if I did not take the magnesium for a day I seemed to improve. Then on days I took it I had the problem again. I plan to stop the magnesium for a week and see what happens. I find it odd that I had no issues at all for a year and now possibly do. Makes me think the diarrhea is not from the magnesium. But the test will be if I improve over the next week, then I will take it again and see what happens. The proof will be in the pudding so to speak.

  13. Nichole says: 10/30/20125:57 pm

    You say that Botox helps. Where do they do the injections if you get the Botox? Do you have to go see your doctor for the Botox injections? I also heard getting some kind of injection in the back of your neck also helps, but that is scary to me cause thats too close to my spinal cord. What do you think?

  14. Dr. Mauskop says: 10/30/20127:32 pm

    Botox is injected all around the head, including the forehead, temples, back of the head, neck and shoulders. You do have to see a neurologist who knows how to inject Botox for chronic migraines and not a dermatologist or plastic surgeon. Injections in the back of the head are usually nerve blocks and can be also effective, but they last a short time, while Botox lasts 3 months and is safer.

  15. Dr. Mauskop says: 10/30/20127:37 pm

    You may want to try different salts of magnesium – chelated (aspartate, gluconate, diglycinate) or MagTab SR. Some of our patients who do not tolerate oral magnesium come once a month for an IV infusion of magnesium.

  16. Chad says: 11/01/201210:45 pm

    What are your thought on Epsom salts or magnesium oil spray to increase absorption?

  17. Dr. Mauskop says: 11/07/20125:56 pm

    Epsom salts is magnesium sulfate, which is often used in baths. It is supposed to help relieve muscle soreness and we do know that magnesium is a good muscle relaxant. There is no evidence that significant amounts of magnesium are absorbed through the skin, so for the treatment of migraine or cluster headaches, magnesium should be taken orally or intravenously. Swallowing Epsom salts or using it in an enema, and in one reported case, just gargling can result in excessive amounts of magnesium in the body, which can be dangerous. Magnesium spray is also unlikely to get absorbed in sufficient amounts.

  18. Janie C says: 11/23/201212:48 pm

    I just downloaded your Migraine Diary app. I am approximately 2+ years postmenopausal. My (primarily) hormonal migraines resolved for a time but now seem to have returned and not sure why. That’s why I thought if I keep a diary perhaps I can target some triggers. Sumatriptan at a low dose (25 mg) usually relieves them, but as I get older, I wonder about the side effects (I typically do experience increased heart rate w/sumatriptan). May try at least to get a magnesium level done to see if that may be the culprit too — with aging, I think your absorption of minerals probably decreases.

  19. Dr. Mauskop says: 11/23/20125:27 pm

    If sumatriptan causes heart rate increase you may want to ask your doctor about trying other triptans, such as rizatriptan (Maxalt), eletriptan (Relpax), zolmitriptan (Zomig) and other. Regular magnesium level (serum level) is unreliable – you can have a higher level and still be deficient. RBC magnesium level is a little more accurate, but not entirely. We recommend to most of our patients with migraine headaches to try taking magnesium without a blood test. Other deficiencies which may contribute to migraine headaches are vitamin B12, CoQ10, and other.

  20. DAG says: 11/25/20129:27 am

    For me, dealing with headaches has been a multiple-pronged endeavor. I use Celtic Sea Salt, plenty of water and PURE encapsulations Magnesium (glycinate) and some daily exercise, plus meditation.

    This is what I do. First, I pay attention of my body. If and when I wake up during the middle of the night, I often get up to use the bathroom, then I will drink a full glass of clean water and lie back down. I practice ZEN so I don’t resist anything that comes into my thoughts. Now as I am lying there, if I notice that my heart is running faster than normal OR if I’m experiencing body-tension, the next night before bedtime I will put into a glass of water 1/2 tsp of the mentioned salt (it is that grey, wet salt that I use from a health food store). Then place that by my bed for when I arise. I then take this salted water. When I then get out of bed, I straightway will consume several glasses of water and more during the day, always keeping my urine a light-yellow. This will prevent any dehydration. Before retiring, I sit for a bit and become aware of my body tension. If it is up there, I then take one tablet of Magnesium and go to bed.

    I used to have severe headaches…waking up with them. I have found that using the above two items to work wonders for me. Yes, I still get headaches but now most infrequently and never more than a #1 or #2 pain level.

    On another front, I also now spend time in daily mediation and being aware of what in life I am resisting and then learning how to deal with it…learning how to be more present to the moment. Do I think that my method will work for everyone? I wonder. But I do think that for those lucky few who are very ‘body aware,’ you will.

    A good book that helped me on this journey was called, “Focusing.”

    What I’ve said above may be not very clear. If anyone is interested in communicating with me directly, my email is: surfingacct@me.com.

  21. Susan says: 11/27/20121:39 am

    I take 600 of magnesium daily and it has changed my life. No more migraines and missed days of work and no side effects, unbelievable!

  22. Mireya says: 12/01/20122:24 pm

    Hi I take magnesium 500 mg daily for migriaine associated vertigo and nortriptaline 25mg. I started taking both at the same time. I noticed an improvenment with my headaches and dizzies. I noticed how my stool was softer, I also started noticing stomach pain spasms and bloating, and had dificulty breathing. So i stopped taking magnesium 500 because was reading side effects and because after having bowel movement on day 49 taking mag I saw blood inside toilet after using it and i freaked( my bowels were smooth). Can long term use magnesium effect/ my GI? And should I continue to take Magnesium 500mg maybe everyother day instead of everyday? Please help I was getting my life back.

  23. Florence Maguire says: 01/09/20138:46 am

    What type of magnsium works best? my daughter is having a test today of Cervical Medial branch block after a myriad of tests-MRI, CAt scans, been to doctors, dentists, chiropractors, neurologists and now pain management doctors where she is having the above test. Her headaches are excrutiating and has interfered with her job and family life. The doctors have not been able to pinpoint the cause of her problem and it is unbearable not just for her but her entire family. (she is 47 and has been told that the M RI showed a stroke which of course, never gave any indication of same) Nothing works for her headaches but Advil which she was eating like candy. Will magnesium help?

  24. Dr. Mauskop says: 01/10/201311:32 pm

    Magnesium is worth trying, but she should check with her doctor first. I usually start with 400 mg of magnesium oxide daily, with food. Botox injections may be another good option for her if she suffers from chronic migraines.

  25. Sandy says: 01/11/20134:43 pm

    I get a migraine when I get done jogging. I have been running for over 10 yrs. I have get one when I get really hot or I try to run faster than usually or sometimes I don’t even know why. I use to think it was because my iron was too low or too high, cause I always have low iron so then I take iron everyday.
    I don’t want to stop running but this is unreal why I have this.

  26. Florence Maguire says: 01/14/20138:43 am

    I understand Magnesium oxide is not easily absorbed. Would magnesiium malate be a better choice for migrane type headaches? It is difficult to decide which magnesium to take since there are so many. Also, why don’t doctors recommend botox injections if they are so effective? Would it be a benefit to go to a big clinic like John Hopkins for evalution if nothing is helping even the Cervical medial branch block proved negative and we are t wits end. Thank you

  27. Christina Scholl says: 01/15/20131:58 pm

    My daughter was diagnosed with CDH,but will have Migraine twice a week where she cannot attend school. She is just turning 13 ,and this all started when she was 10. She has Optic Nerve Edema and has had CT, MRI, MRV along with blood tests,and spinal tap. Her OP was 17 and Neurologist could not diagnose IH (Intracranial Hypertension) unless she was a 20. I recently heard about Magnesium helping Sufferers,and was concerned with the dosage? She currently takes Amitriptyline 10mg,and Vit D3 …. Thank you for any suggestions.

  28. Dr. Mauskop says: 01/16/20137:18 pm

    I cannot make specific recommendations, but the usual dose of magnesium for the prevention of migraine headaches is 400 mg a day with food. It can be magnesium oxide, chelated magnesium (gluconate, aspartate, diglycinate) and other, but it has to be without calcium.

  29. Dionne Welch says: 01/17/201310:29 am

    I live in Canada, and don’t have access to Migralex. I am taking Magnesium daily, which has helped with my migraines, but I am very sensitive to barometric pressure, so I do still get migraines sometimes due to this. My question is, do you recommend taking magnsium with aspirin at the same dosages available in Migralex, for people who aren’t able to buy your product?

  30. Dr. Mauskop says: 01/17/20139:18 pm

    Yes, you can take magnesium with aspirin, although it may not provide as quick or as reliable relief since Migralex was formulated to dissolve very quickly and delivers the right amounts of magnesium and aspirin. You can improve the speed of absorption of magnesium if you take it in a liquid form – it is sold in a powder that you dissolve in water. “Calm” is one of the US brands of powdered magnesium. If you take this combination of aspirin with liquid magnesium on top of the daily supplement there is a risk of getting too much magnesium which can lead to diarrhea.

  31. Dionne Welch says: 01/19/201310:40 am

    Thank you for your response to my question a few days ago. I am also wondering about the safety of taking feverfew and aspirin together? I am currently taking 250mg/day of feverfew, and would like to try aspirin when I have a migraine. I have read that they both act as blood thinners. If a person is otherwise healthy, and not on any other blood thinning meds, is it safe to take feverfew and aspirin together?

  32. […] Magnesium – Dr. Oz believes that magnesium relaxes arteries and muscles in the […]

  33. Priya says: 03/19/20143:43 pm

    I get migraine attacks almost 2-3 times a week. I’ve been prescribed Magnesium by my neurologist . I’m confused between Magnesium Glycinate and Magnesium Malate ? Which one is better for migraines and fibromyalgia?

  34. Dr. Mauskop says: 03/19/20143:59 pm

    I would try magnesium glycinate

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