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HeadWay, Issue #081 -- Answering Your Questions
July 21, 2010

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In this month's issue:

Answering Your Questions

Recently at Headache and Migraine News

Say what?!  Central Sensitization

Answering Your Questions

This month I'm going to try to answer some of your questions.  I won't have the space to answer all of them, but we can cover a few!

First of all, let me clear up one thing that might have been a bit confusing in the June issue of HeadWay.  My comments regarding migraine aura without headache may have made it sound like only children get recurring vertigo.  Many of you know by experience that adults can get vertigo too!

What I was actually referring to was a rare type of migraine known as benign paroxysmal vertigo of childhood.  This type of migraine may or may not include a headache; more often nausea is a symptom.

Vertigo can certainly occur in adult migraine as a kind of aura.  For example, it's common in basilar-type migraine.  Various non-migraine conditions can cause vertigo as well.

Thanks to Carolyn for pointing out my poor wording.  :)

Now, let's get on with some other questions.

Migraine and Magnesium

Probably the most asked about and commented on thing besides migraine aura without headache is the connection between migraine and magnesium.  I won't go into all the details, since we've talked about this before, but let me try to clarify a few things.

First, you did read correctly - you should not be talking calcium along with your magnesium if you're taking magnesium for migraine.  Often magnesium is taken with calcium for conditions such as osteoporosis.  Why?  Because it's important for calcium absorption that your ratio of calcium to magnesium be right.  That's an oversimplification, but the point is that these calcium/magnesium supplements are mainly focused on getting the calcium/magnesium ration right in your body, and getting the calcium absorbed.

In the case of many migraineurs, the magnesium levels in the body seem to be lower than they should be.  So the magnesium is taken by itself so that it's not competing with the calcium.

If you're taking calcium/magnesium, try taking another magnesium supplement at a different time of day for migraine.

I've recommended Ultra-Mag Magnesium complex.  But I've also been asked about other types of magnesium, including a child-friendly supplement.

One type to try is the magnesium you can dissolve in a drink.  Peter Gillham Natural Magnesium Calm Organic Orange can be used as a hot drink.

Flora Floradix Magnesium Liquid Mineral Supplement apparently has a good flavour, though I haven't tried it personally.  One of our blog readers has used it.  Lifetime Liquid Magnesium Blend Orange Vanilla can also be taken alone or in a drink.  Try one of these if you don't like taking tablets.

Atrial Septal Defect and Migraine

Michelle in the USA asked about Atrial Septal Defect and migraine.  ASD is actually a more general term; you may be more familiar with the specific term patent foramen ovale (PFO).

As a matter of fact, we discussed PFO in the second issue of HeadWay, but a lot has happened since then.

PFO refers to a common heart defect which usually doesn't seem to cause any symptoms.  However, patients that were having it treated (though simple surgery) started reporting that they were having fewer migraine attacks.

Soon PFO closure was looking like the next big thing in migraine treatment.  Clinic trials were underway.  Media reports were common.

So what happened?  Well, in short, the results of the trials were not impressive.  Not even impressive enough to continue the trials.  PFO closure dropped waaaay down on the list of things to try for migraine.

Is that the end of this treatment?  No, people are still trying it.  But the research is changing.

We know that PFO closure helps some migraineurs.  It may be a very small percentage.  But the question is, why does it help some and not others?  Research now is looking to answer that question.  Once we know, we may be able to get the treatment to those who will benefit most.

Until we know the answer, most patients will be looking at many other treatments first.

Read more here:  Should we give up on the PFO Closure Solution?

Nausea and Ginger

This wasn't so much a question as a comment.  One reader who struggles with nausea has found it very helpful to carry around ginger candies.  I often take ginger slices such as these for nausea, but a "nugget" version might be handy, like these Reed's Crystallized Ginger Candy.

Just make sure it's real ginger, not some vague "natural ginger flavoring".  A great place to look for these types of things is at your local health food store.  Thanks to Jeanette from the USA!

More tips on fighting nausea here.


Gigi from the Philippines asks,"Are there migraines with numbness only but no headache?"

Yes, Gigi, there are.  Numbness is actually a common "aura" symptom of migraine.  It falls under the category of "sensory symptoms".

As a possible migraine aura, it can be a part of migraine aura with headache, and also aura without headache.  The numbness in migraine is usually one-sided, and lasts a few minutes to an hour (again, usually).

If you're experiencing numbness, it's critical to see a doctor right away, preferably one who knows your medical history.  There are a number of possible causes.  Don't wait to get it checked out.

More on Magnesium

I'm going to stop there with the new topics for now.  But before we sign off, I'm going briefly back to the magnesium topic.  It was brought up so often in the questions and comments, that I just had to come back and talk about it again.

Here are a couple of the recent comments that have shown up in the HeadWay MailRoom regarding magnesium supplements:

This from Kathy in the USA:  After reading the information about magnesium supplements for migraine I decided to try it.  Like many other migraine sufferers I had tried the prescription antidepressants, antiseizure drugs and just about everything that doctors prescribe, all without any real improvement.  I started taking magnesium asporotate 400 mg per day.

Within a week my headaches were almost gone.  It has been a month now and the change is amazing.  The quality of my life has improved immensely.  I no longer wake up almost every day with a headache.  Now I'm wondering why not one of the many doctors I've seen over the years ever recommended magnesium....

And Trista from the USA:  I have found magnesium supplements to be the best way to fight my migraines as well as avoiding known triggers...

I really appreciate your site.  I found it when I was trying to get daily chronic migraines under control 3 years ago.  Thanks to the info that you have and other research I've done, I was able to get off of all preventative medications using diet and magnesium supplements.  I still deal with the migraines, but the duration and severity is not crippling anymore.

Recently at Headache and Migraine News

Some articles you'll want to check out at the blog:

Say what?!  Central Sensitization

Central Sensitization is a common term when it comes to explaining chronic pain.  In central sensitization, the nervous system becomes sensitized to stimulus.  Often it will start out as an outside threat - an injury from an accident, inflammation from a disease, etc.  But soon the nervous system begins to react to things that are no longer a threat.  This physiological process seems to make the nervous system its own "pain generator".  As a result, a small amount of pain can become a large amount, and things that shouldn't cause pain do.

This seems to be an important aspect in diseases such as migraine and fibromyalgia.

Thanks for reading!  Remember, if you have feedback or ideas for future issues, visit the HeadWay MailRoom.  Your password is nomoache.
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