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Debilitating Nausea Caused By High(ish) Magnesium Dose

white capsulesWoo hoo! I feel human again and it’s all because I stopped taking magnesium. Yep, magnesium, the wonder supplement that helps so many people with migraine and chronic daily headache. I don’t think magnesium itself is to blame, but that the dose was too high. Since I can’t even take a multivitamin without nausea, I was hyper-aware as I increased from my starting dose of 100 mg. Or so I thought.

At 333 mg per day, it was within the normal dose range for treating headaches of 200-500 mg per day. It was also within the recommended daily allowance of 350 mg. I’ve discovered that allowances and ranges are like speed limits: A guideline you’re not supposed to exceed, but that you don’t have to meet.

Practically every health care provider I’ve seen has recommended magnesium to me. I’ve taken it on and off over the last five years, although this is the first time I’ve taken it consistently for more than a few weeks. Because I’ve read so much about it and had it prescribed before, I thought I could adjust the dose myself just fine. I figured I’d be fine if I stayed at or under the RDA. I unwittingly fell for the myth that medications, vitamins and supplements sold over-the-counter are harmless.

The good and frustrating news: My overall head pain was less and I had fewer migraines during the time I was horribly nauseated. I’m guessing that means the magnesium helped some. I think once my system flushes the current round of magnesium, I’ll have my different vitamin and mineral levels tested. I’ll also make myself keep a diary of my symptoms and doses. I wouldn’t want to go through these last six weeks again. I felt horrible and was so scared of what might be wrong with me.

I haven’t had any blood tests, so I’m not positive the nausea was caused by excessive magnesium. But when debilitating nausea that began about the time I increased my dose goes away when I stop taking the pills, the evidence is strong enough for me.

What is your experience been with magnesium? Please leave a comment below or chime in on the online support group and forum.

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Your Five Minutes Could Increase NIH Funding for Headache Research

Urge your US House of Representatives member to support increasing the National Institutes of Health’s headache research funding by sending this pre-written e-mail no later than Monday, March 17. That’s all that’s required, though you are encouraged to include a personal note on how headache disorders affect you.

According to the National Headache Foundation, “NIH grants for migraine total approximately $13M per year, representing less than .05% of the total NIH budget. Very little headache research apart from migraine is funded and the NIH has no institute, center, or study section wholly devoted to pain, let alone headache disorders.”

This letter from the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy has details on the initiative:

AHDA Congressional Action Alert: Increase NIH funding for Headache Research

Dear AHDA advocates –

Well, the key moment has arrived for you to contact your Member of the US House of Representatives to take action for increasing NIH research for headache disorders.

A Dear Colleague letter was sent Monday, March 10, by Representatives Peter Welch and James Moran to all House offices, urging all Members of the House to co-sign a letter to Representatives David Obey and James Walsh. The Obey/Walsh letter requests inclusion of language that supports headache research to be appended to the FY09 appropriations bill for NIH. (For details, see the AHDA homepage.)

The more Representatives that co-sign the Obey/Walsh letter, the greater are the chances that the language will be included. The Obey/Walsh letter must be submitted with signatures by 3/19. This unfortunate deadline was a late-breaking surprise for us, so we have little more than a week to get as many signatures as possible. Please use the space below to compose your message to your Representative and urge her/him to co-sign the Obey/Walsh letter now.

We are also working on a Senate Dear Colleague letter right now and we will let you know when the time is right for you to contact your Senators too.

Through collective advocacy we will improve the care for individuals with headache disorders. Thanks very much for your help.

Best regards to you all,

Bob

Robert Shapiro, MD, PhD; Burlington, Vermont
William Young, MD; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Brad Klein, MD, MBA; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Teri Robert, PhD; Washington, West Virginia

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A Reader’s Story: Living With New Daily Persistent Headache

Andy recently “celebrated” his third year anniversary of having a constant headache. He’s determined to keep it from defining who he is, which we all know is a constant struggle.

I woke up with a headache on January 22, 2005 and it’s been there ever since. I also determined through my own research that it is New Daily Persistent Headache — it has the symptoms of chronic daily headache without the traditional migraine elements.

Most days it’s pretty mild, allowing me to live my life fairly normally as long as I’m distracted by my job, family, baseball game, etc. But it never goes away. It’s always there, and it’s really devastating to think I’ll be spending the next 50 years of my life in pain. 50 years! See how terrible that sounds? I just came across this blog for the first time and it’s somewhat comforting to know there are other people out there who can relate to that. Depressing, yet comforting.

I sometimes wish I would have been in a car accident or suffered some specific traumatic experience so I could at least pinpoint an occurrence and say, “It’s awful, but these things happen.” In my case, all I did was wake up. It’s maddening, but I try not to let it define who I am.

Like others, I’ve spent the past several years seeing many specialists and trying dozens of medications — all to no avail. I’m currently taking an extended-release form of Tramadol (and Vicodin every few days) but aside from offering a few hours of slight relief, they just make me fatigued like most of the other meds I’ve tried.

We’re all in this together, which is why it’s so important to hear stories from many different people. If you’d like to share your story with readers and me, please e-mail me or leave a comment.

For more information, see the National Headache Foundation on new daily persistent headache and Her Life in a Nutshell, a blog about the disorder.

Reader-submitted stories solely represent the personal point of view, experience, and opinion of the author, not of The Daily Headache or Kerrie Smyres.

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What Are Your Headache Metaphors?

“My headache feels like two people are pressing really hard on 2
different cookie cutters, fighting for the same piece of “dough” . . .” — Baldgirl With Headaches

This excellent description of headache pain got me wondering how other people think about their headaches or migraines. One of mine is a racquetball bouncing off the walls of a racquetball court. What comparisons do you use?

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Antidepressants and Pregnancy, Bone Loss, Personalized Drugs & Suicide (and Dutch Women & Depression)

Anyone with a headache disorder has a stake in depression news. Not only do headache and depression tend to go together, antidepressants are common headache preventives.

Antidepressants Rated Low Risk in Pregnancy

Taking an antidepressant like Prozac may increase a pregnant woman’s risk of having a baby with a birth defect, but the chances appear remote and confined to a few rare defects, researchers are reporting today.

The findings, appearing in two studies in The New England Journal of Medicine, support doctors’ assurances that antidepressants are not a major cause of serious physical problems in newborns.

But the studies did not include enough cases to adequately assess risk of many rare defects; nor did they include information on how long women were taking antidepressants or at what doses. The studies did not evaluate behavioral effects either; previous research has found that babies suffer withdrawal effects if they have been exposed to antidepressants in the womb, and that may have implications for later behavior.

Antidepressants May Speed Bone Loss: SSRIs Linked to Reduced Bone Density in 2 Studies

In one study, older women who took SSRI antidepressants showed a 60% acceleration in bone loss, compared with women who did not take antidepressants. . . .

The accelerated bone loss was not seen in women who took another type of antidepressant.

The men in the [second] study who took SSRIs had lower bone density in the hip and lower spine than men who took no antidepressants. There were no significant differences between those who took tricyclic antidepressants and men who took no antidepressants.

“That sounds very alarming, but we don’t really know if it is clinically meaningful, and we cannot definitively say that the SSRI use was the reason for the bone loss,” Diem says. “These are preliminary findings which need to be confirmed.”

Because depression itself is associated with an increased risk for bone loss in older people, a better understanding of the impact of antidepressants on bone is urgently needed, he says.

Also: SSRIs Chase Depression But Bones May Pay Price

On the Horizon, Personalized Depression Drugs

Instead of the hit-or-miss approach . . . it will soon be possible for a psychiatrist to biologically personalize treatments. With a simple blood test, the doctor will be able to characterize a patient’s unique genetic profile, determining what biological type of depression the patient has and which antidepressant is likely to work best.

Suicide Patterns in Depression Unrelated to Antidepressant Use

Data on more than 130,000 new episodes of depression showed that regardless of treatment type, the number of suicide attempts was highest in the month before therapy, next highest in the first of month of therapy, and lowest thereafter, the investigators reported in the July issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

“Our study indicates that there’s nothing specific to antidepressant medications that would either make large populations of people with depression start trying to kill themselves-or protect them from suicidal thoughts,” said Dr. Simon.

“Instead,” he said, “we think that, on average, starting any type of treatment-medication, psychotherapy, or both-helps most people of any age have fewer symptoms of depression, including thinking about suicide and attempting it.”

Why Dutch Women Don’t Get Depressed

After scores of interviews with historians, psychologists, fashion designers, image-profilers, personal shoppers, magazine editors and ordinary Dutch women, Ellen de Bruin, a Dutch psychologist and journalist, throws down the gauntlet. [S]he argues that women in the Netherlands are a whole lot happier than their counterparts in most parts of the world.

“It has to do with personal freedom,” said de Bruin, whose work, sure enough, is titled “Dutch Women Don’t Get Depressed.” “Personal choice is key: in the Netherlands people are free to choose their life partners, their religion, their sexuality, we are free to use soft drugs here, we can pretty much say anything we like. The Netherlands is a very free country.”

[via Kevin, MD]