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Type of Magnesium Affects Absorbtion Rate, Reaction

After I stopped taking magnesium, the severe nausea diminished over several days. And the after-eating headaches that had ceased, slowly increased over those few days. Then I learned from a reader that the dose may not have caused nausea, but the type of magnesium. There are many different kinds; turns out I was taking one of the most difficult to absorb.

I planned to let my my system “flush” it all before I started again, but didn’t want to lose the progress I had made. Especially after I learned it can take three months to get the full effect. So I tried again with a lower dose of an easier-to-absorb type. On my new dose of 150 mg of magnesium glycinate chelate, the nausea is manageable and the after-eating headaches have yet to return.

Although about magnesium before I started taking it the first time, I was apparently unable to absorb the information until I was too sick to move. I have since re-read The Magnesium Solution for Migraine Headaches, a highly informative book. In addition to explaining the connection between migraine (and cluster headache) and magnesium, it shares the history of and evidence for using supplements of the mineral. Guidelines for taking magnesium are also included. If you’re thinking about taking magnesium, consider reading this short book, which is only $5.95 new and about $2.50 used.

The National Institutes of Health also has an excellent (and free!) overview of magnesium, including dietary sources, absorbtion rates and drug interations.

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Cluster Headache Drug Verapamil May Cause Heart Problems

People who take verapamil for cluster headaches may be at greater risk of irregular heartbeats than those who don’t, according to a study published in the August issue of the journal Neurology. Researchers recommend that those who take the drug should have frequent EKGs to watch for possible heart problems.

The study of 108 people with cluster headache specifically looked at high doses of verapamil. 21% showed an irregular heartbeat while taking high dose verapamil. 37% of participants had slower than normal heart rates while on the drug. Most cases were not considered serious.

The study abstract and the press release from the American Academy of Neurology (below) provide details.

Drug for Cluster Headaches May Cause Heart Problems

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A drug increasingly used to prevent cluster headaches can cause heart problems, according to a study published in the August 14, 2007, issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Those taking the drug verapamil for cluster headaches should be closely monitored with frequent electrocardiograms (EKGs) for potential development of irregular heartbeats.

Cluster headache is a rare, severe form of headache that is more common in men. The attacks usually occur in cyclical patterns, with frequent attacks over weeks or months generally followed by a period of remission when the headaches stop.

“The benefit of taking verapamil to alleviate the devastating pain of cluster headaches has to be balanced against the risk of causing a heart abnormality that could progress into a more serious problem,” said study author Peter Goadsby, MD, PhD, DSc, of the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Queen Square, London, UK, and the University of California, San Francisco and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study involved 108 people with an average age of 44. The participants started taking verapamil and then had an EKG and an increase in the dosage of the drug every two weeks until the headaches were stopped or they started having side effects.

A total of 21 patients, or 19 percent, had problems with the electrical activity of the heart, or irregular heartbeats, while taking the drug. Most of the cases were not considered serious; however, one person required a permanent pacemaker due to the problem. A total of 37 percent of the participants had slower than normal heart rates while on the drug, but the condition was severe enough to warrant stopping the use of the drug in only four cases.

Goadsby noted that 217 people taking the drug were initially supposed to take part in the study, but 42 percent of them did not have the EKGs done to monitor their heart activity. “Many of them said either they or their local services were reluctant to undertake such frequent tests, or they were not aware of the need for the heart monitoring,” he said. “Since this drug is relatively new for use in cluster headaches, it’s possible that some health care providers are not aware of the problems that can come with its use.”

emphasis added

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Current Clinical Trials for Headache, Migraine & Cluster Headache

NIH’s clinical trials database is brimming with clinical trials for headache disorders. There are currently 110 headache, 65 migraine and five cluster headache studies either actively recruiting or will do so soon.

Topics include:

And there are many, many more. Many are for drugs, but others have minimal risks.You can search by which phase trails are in, I, II and III. The website breaks down how the trials differ:

  • In Phase I clinical trials, researchers test a new drug or treatment in a small group of people (20-80) for the first time to evaluate its safety, determine a safe dosage range, and identify side effects.
  • In Phase II clinical trials, the study drug or treatment is given to a larger group of people (100-300) to see if it is effective and to further evaluate its safety.
  • In Phase III studies, the study drug or treatment is given to large groups of people (1,000-3,000) to confirm its effectiveness, monitor side effects, compare it to commonly used treatments, and collect information that will allow the drug or treatment to be used safely.

To learn more about clinical trials and for definitions, stay tuned for tomorrow’s post.

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Headache Types: Mayo Clinic’s Online Headache Center

Right after I made a note to myself to blog about different headache types, the latest issue of Housecall, Mayo Clinic’s weekly newsletter, arrived in my inbox. The issue’s feature was, you guessed it, headaches.

Mayo’s online headache center has a wealth of information on headache types, pain meds and self-care. The headache types covered are:

For each type, there is an extensive subset of topics, including signs and symptoms, causes, screening and diagnosis, coping skills, and prevention.

The headache center is a terrific place to discover more about this illness. Poke around for a while — I guarantee you’ll learn something new.