Nerves conduct signals from one part of the brain to another by transporting electrical charge across their surface. Depending on the type of charge, nerves can be activated or deactivated. This activation can have a stimulatory (excitatory) or sedentary (inhibitory) effect depending on the nerve involved.
Sensory signals about pain, touch and temperature are sent from the nerve endings supplying the face and travel to your brain via an important nerve called the trigeminal nerve. Research suggests that in migraine sufferers there is a problem with the way messages travel in the trigeminal system. These signals can be overly strong and may be responsible for some migraine symptoms. There may also be an energy imbalance in the nerve cells at the microscopic level, involving mitochondria which help power the cell.
Magnesium has an essential role in energy processes inside our cells, as well as production of new cells and protein. It is also essential in regulating the amount of calcium in certain cells which causes relaxation of the blood vessels in the brain. Magnesium protects nerves, by preventing release of stimulating (excitatory) chemicals and blocking excitatory nerve endings (NMDA N-methyl-D-aspartate glutamate receptor) so pain messages are less likely to be relayed to the brain. This is why Magnesium is used in migraine as well as in pain relief.
The effects that Magnesium Oxide exerts on the calcium channels in the NMDA receptor and blood vessel walls in the brain reduces the likelihood of migraines occurring. There is emerging evidence that magnesium helps to optimize energy levels in nerve cells in the brain by acting on mitochondria.
Magnesium Oxide can therefore be taken as a supplement alongside preventative medication. Unfortunately it is unlikely to relieve migraine symptoms immediately once a migraine starts to appear. Other medications such as triptans provide more immediate relief of symptoms.