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Why Does My Head Ache

From the desk of Robert C Slater BA, MSC, CME, DC, owner of Healing Hands Wellness LLC located at 1635 Cleveland Ave S #1, St Paul MN 55116, Ph: 651-399-3366: cell: 952-217-9587,  website:

Re: Supporting The Health and Vitality of Citizens, Employees and Families of The City of St Paul, [and regional] Minnesota

Why Does My Head Ache?

A way of rephrasing this nagging question is: “what role do minerals play or how do they contribute to brain inflammation?” There is a sound basis to the hypotheses regarding certain mineral deficiency as a trigger for inflammation of the epithelia layer of blood vessels in the brain as one of the rudimentary causes of a headache [1].

One approach to helping overcome the pain of an inflammatory generated headache is therefore straightforward. This partial solution to a headache is to make sure there is not a shortage of the mineral magnesium in the blood. If you are deficient in magnesium for 5 days or more you are at risk of a migraine headache.

What is the magnesium deficiency story that goes hand in hand with the onset of nagging headache. The punch line of the mineral deficiency induced headache tale has to do whether there is an adequate level of this life-giving mineral in the blood to catalyze production of the incredible levels of energy needed by brain cells.

Of the many enzymes that operate in healthy brain’s neurons, each and every one of them require the presence of magnesium ions to function. Magnesium based enzyme systems enable the activation of adenosine triphosphate [ATP], which is the fundamental energy storage molecule in the brain neurons.

Within the brain’s nerve cells themselves, magnesium catalyzed ATP generation is essential energy platform used to generate DNA and RNA within the nucleus of the brain’s neurons. It is large part the important interaction between phosphate and magnesium ions that sparks essential nucleic acid chemistry of brain neurons.

Deficiency of magnesium triggers a headache [migraine] in part because the metabolic pathways used to generate ATP are slowed down and ATP is not produced in adequate amounts. This has been suggested as the root of the chain of events leading to vasoconstriction of blood vessels and associated neurogenic inflammation of brain cells.

The other side of a neurogenic inflammation [headache] indirectly due to magnesium deficiency, is a vasoconstriction blood vessel associated with the release from these neurons of a pro-inflammatory agent called Substance P. Brain neurons that are ‘unhappy’ contributing to a pro-inflammatory condition in the endothelial cells of blood vessels in the brain [2]

Substance P, a neuropeptide composed of 11 amino acids, is thereby released when the magnesium levels in the brain neurons are low and is associated with the brain blood cells going into vasoconstriction. This is a generalized response that can also occur in other organs of the body. In the lungs, the release of substance P from nerves here in association with asthma may be considered to some degree a ‘headache of the lungs’.

Magnesium is the fourth most common element in the Earth as a whole (behind iron, oxygen and silicon), making up 13% of the planet's mass and a large fraction of the planet's mantle [Wiki]. The recommended daily requirement for magnesium intake is 350-400 milligrams per day.

You do not generally say within any given 5 day period: “Hey..I feel my blood levels of magnesium are low!” But when magnesium levels are low an innate survival ‘seeking’ instinct is at work to inform you of this urgent metabolic need and therefore drives you to obtain and eat magnesium rich foods.

Most dietary magnesium comes from vegetables, such as dark green, leafy vegetables. Other foods that are good sources of magnesium: fruits or vegetables (such as bananas, dried apricots, and avocados), nuts (such as almonds and cashews), peas and beans (legumes), seeds, soy products (such as soy flour and tofu) and whole grains (such as brown rice and millet) [Wiki].

My chiropractic office is registered by the state of Minnesota to render, provide and care for persons with concerns of a nutritional deficient related headache. Dr Slater’s license # is: 5018 and he is in good standing with the Board of Chiropractic Examiners.  We offer in office baseline nutritional tests and also can arrange for a comprehensive blood chemistry test at a near-by collection site. The earlier a problem is detected, the easier and more likely it is to be treatable. Call us today at 651-699-3366 to have access to a major clinical laboratory collection site in St Paul, Minnesota.

1-Jee SH, Miller ER III, Guallar E et al. (2002). "The effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials". Am J Hypertens 15 (8): 691–696. doi:10.1016/S0895-7061(02)02964-3. PMID 12160191.  

2-J Cell Physiol. 2004 Nov;201 (2):167-80. “The role of substance P in inflammatory disease.” O'Connor TM1, O'Connell J, O'Brien DI, Goode T, Bredin CP, Shanahan FAbundance and form of the most abundant elements in Earth's continental crust (PDF). Retrieved 2008-02-15.