Magnesium is an essential mineral for optimal metabolic function. Research has shown that the mineral content of magnesium in food sources is declining, and that magnesium depletion has been detected in persons with some chronic diseases. This has led to an increased awareness of proper magnesium intake and its potential therapeutic role in a number of medical conditions. Studies have shown the effectiveness of magnesium in eclampsia and preeclampsia, arrhythmia, severe asthma, and migraine headaches.
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant essential mineral in the body. It is distributed approximately one half in the bone and one half in the muscle and other soft tissues; less than one percent is in the blood.
Studies have found that patients with cluster headaches and classic or common migraine, especially menstrual migraine, have low levels of magnesium. A prospective, multicenter, double-blind randomized study conducted in Germany showed that a single daily dosage of 600 mg oral trimagnesium dicitrate significantly reduced the frequency of migraine compared with placebo. For acute treatment of migraine, intravenous magnesium sulfate showed a statistically significant improvement in the treatment of all symptoms in patients with aura, or as an adjuvant therapy for associated symptoms in patients without aura.
Magnesium is an essential mineral with evidence of effectiveness in treating eclampsia and preeclampsia, arrhythmia, severe asthma, and migraine headaches. The strongest evidence for magnesium’s effectiveness is in patients who have, or have had aura with their migraines. It is believed magnesium may prevent the wave of brain signaling, called cortical spreading depression, which produces the visual and sensory changes that are the common forms of aura. Other mechanisms of magnesium action include improved platelet function and decreased release or blocking of pain transmitting chemicals in the brain such as Substance P and glutamate. Activated Magnesium may also prevent narrowing of brain blood vessels caused by the neurotransmitter serotonin.
MARY P. GUERRERA, MD, FAAFP, is an associate professor and director of integrative medicine in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in Farmington. She also serves on the steering and education committees of the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine.
STELLA LUCIA VOLPE, PhD, RD, LDN, FACSM, is an associate professor
and the Miriam Stirl Term Endowed Chair in Nutrition at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Division of Biobehavioral and Health Sciences in Philadelphia.
JUN JAMES MAO, MD, MSCE, is an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and practices primary care–based integrative medicine