Preventing Headaches and Migraines
Migraines are distinguished from everyday headaches, such as tension headaches, by their intensity and duration. The typical migraine begins with a throbbing pain, usually starting on one side of the head, becoming more generalized, and lasts for several hours to a day. Migraine episodes are often accompanied by dizziness, nausea and vomiting. Light sensitivity is also common with some people experiencing neurological effects known as ‘aura’ that precede the migraine. These effects usually produce visual symptoms such as flashing lights, blurred vision and bright spots.
Migraines can be triggered by stress, anxiety, tension, insufficient food, excess sleep, fluctuations in hormones and certain foods. All these factors result in abnormal electrical changes in the brain which can trigger a migraine attack. A specialized extract of butterbur root has demonstrated impressive efficacy in the prevention of migraine attacks. Used in Germany as a prescription remedy, this plant extract may help reduce the frequency of migraine attacks by 50% when used daily for three to four months.
It is estimated that well over 50% of people who suffer from migraines have magnesium deficiencies. Magnesium’s role in the case of migraines appears to be linked to its role in muscle function, nerve relaxation and optimal valve functions within the arteries and veins. Magnesium also helps relax nerves and hence prevents the signals that are sent to the pain receptors in the brain. Magnesium is often described as an anti-stress mineral due to its ability to relax both muscles and nerves and since stress is one of the biggest triggers of migraines, the use of a magnesium supplement would be prudent.
Most magnesium supplements are not readily absorbed into the nervous system. There is however an innovative form of magnesium called Neuro-Mag by Life Extension, which in trials boosted magnesium levels in the nervous system by an impressive 15% compared to no increase with conventional magnesium supplements. This type of magnesium is very specific for migraines and for the ageing brain, both of which are neurological disorders.