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Has anybody had any luck with these vitamin and minerals? I saw a combo on a health site today -- of course they want to sell it to me, and I'd like to know whether it's worked for anybody here before I consider buying it.

Yes--with magnesium.

I myself do not suffer from migraines, but my wife does--or rather, used to, with great regularity and intensity. Although there seemed to be various triggers (red wine and overwork come to mind), it was very clear that her migraines were closely connected with her menstrual cycle.

Sometime in 1995, we both began taking relatively "mega-" doses of a variety of food supplements (multiple vitamins, minerals, etc.). What initially got us interested was a trip to America (we lived in Japan at the time) during which, at my sister's recommendation, we bought some EVENING PRIMROSE OIL.

To our surprise, we found that daily doses of EVENING PRIMROSE OIL dramatically reduced the severity of my wife's PMS symptoms, particularly the very painful breast tenderness that she invariably suffered during, and especially just prior to, her period. The effect was noticeable within one month; and in fact, over time, as she continued to supplement with primrose oil, her premenstrual breast tenderness has disappeared entirely.

Needless to say, that got our attention. So we started looking into this stuff. What we found from reading in various places indicated that (in addition to a good super-multivitamin supplement as a base) the specific supplements most often recommended for menstrual problems seemed to be VITAMIN B-6, VITAMIN E, and ZINC. What my wife believes from her own personal experience is that EVENING PRIMROSE OIL and MAGNESIUM are the most helpful to her.

As we read further on these subjects, we found references by naturopathic physicians to the use of magnesium as a treatment for headaches, and my wife began adding an additional daily 150-mg. magnesium supplement to what she was already getting from her multivitamin regimen. And at some point (it's hard to say exactly when, since we weren't conducting a scientific study, but it would have been within a few weeks or months) she noticed that she was no longer experiencing migraine headaches--at all.

This improvement--cure, in fact--has endured right up to the present--so that's roughly five years, I guess. The one time she experienced a relapse was in the fall of 1996 when we moved to America and got lazy for a while about buying our nutritional supplements. She suffered two mild migraines at that time (again, apparently connected with the onset of her period). We went out and bought our vitamins, primrose, and magnesium, and returned to supplementing conscientiously, and she hasn't had a migraine since. This suggests to us that it is indeed the nutritional supplements (or some of them, or one of them) that have eliminated her migraine headaches.

Because she started taking a number of different supplements at once, it's difficult to pin down with confidence which specific supplement or supplements are to be credited with the disappearance of her headaches. However, my wife is intuitively convinced that it is magnesium that is the single most effective element in preventing her migraines. Not being a lab rat, she hasn't empirically tested this hypothesis by, say, cutting out all other supplements besides magnesium and seeing whether the migraines recur; still, it seems to me that her intuition that magnesium is primarily responsible is probably worth trusting--after all, it's her body!

One further note about magnesium. According to what I've read, it is not particularly easy for the body to absorb and utilize magnesium from supplements, so we believe it is worth buying more absorbable forms of magnesium, so as to get more usable magnesium from each capsule into your body. My reading suggests that MAGNESIUM ASPARTATE is the most (or one of the most--maybe there's something better now) absorbable form of magnesium for supplementation. Most magnesium supplements seem to consist of magnesium oxide, which I'm told is less absorbable, so I would advise you to give that form of magnesium a miss and try magnesium aspartate instead.

Okay, sorry to run on so long; on to the specifics. This is what my wife takes daily (or thereabouts) in the way of nutritional supplements:

- Biovital (a multiple vitamin-mineral product by Enzymatic Therapy): 2 tabs [I think they may have changed the name of this product recently--anyway, it's their multiple for women.]

- evening primrose oil (Vitamin Shoppe brand): 1300 mg.

- MAGNESIUM (CellMins Magnesium, by TwinLab): 150 mg. [AGAIN, PLEASE NOTE: Most magnesium supplements are magnesium oxide (I don't know why; maybe it's cheaper to produce). This is magnesium aspartate, which is said to be more easily absorbed than other forms of magnesium.]

- E-complex (Vitamin Shoppe brand): 800 I.U.

- selenium (Vitamin Shoppe brand): 100 mcg. [Selenium, an antioxidant, is said to help the body utilize vitamin E better.]

- zinc picolinate (Gary Null's): 25 mg. [Zinc picolinate is said to be more absorbable than other forms of zinc, particularly for older people, who tend to have difficulty absorbing zinc because of weaker pancreatic function. My wife is in her late thirties, but this is what she takes anyway.]

- vitamin B-6 (Vitamin Shoppe brand): 250 mg.

- vitamin C (Esther C, by Vitamin Shoppe): 1000 mg.

- OsteoPrime (Enzymatic Therapy brand): 1 capsule [This is a blend of calcium, manganese, etc. intended to minimize osteoporosis--they say the earlier in life you start supplementing, the better.]

She also takes iron (Ultimate Iron, by Enzymatic Therapy), ginkgo biloba (Vitamin Shoppe brand), potassium (Potassium Plus, by Enzymatic Therapy), and one or two other nutritional supplements, on a less than daily basis.

You probably already know this, but it may be worth mentioning, just in case: The nutritional-supplements approach is quite different from the Advil approach of trying to heal the symptom (e.g. headache pain) after you already have it. You can't expect a magnesium capsule to relieve the pain of a migraine headache--it won't work. The way to go about it is to buy a two- or three-months' supply of magnesium aspartate and take it every day for at least a few weeks. The idea is to constantly make available to your body a supply of certain materials it may need at various times in order to maintain its health. So give this approach time before you decide whether or not it is working for you. This is about giving your body what it needs to keep itself healthy--it's not about suppressing symptoms.

Incidentally, I have reason to believe that magnesium supplementation may work for male headache sufferers, as well. A few weeks ago a clerk at a neighborhood store told me that he suffered from extremely frequent migraines, and I told him about my wife's experience with magnesium. The other day I stopped into his store and he told me he'd been supplementing magnesium (oxide, in this case), and had been getting migraines far less frequently for the past two or three weeks (like one a week, as opposed to his usual three or four). So even though migraines seem, for many, many people, to be related to the menstrual cycle, it appears that magnesium supplementation is not necessarily a gender-specific treatment.

Also FYI, my wife has tried the herbal supplement FEVERFEW, which about one in four (I believe it was) migraine sufferers have reported was helpful. In her case, she did not feel it did anything for her; however, it might well be worth a try for you.

One more thing: At the recommendation of a friend, I started reading about this stuff in a book called _Doctor Whittaker's Guide to Natural Healing_, put out by Prima Publishing, P.O. Box 1260 BK, Rocklin, CA 95677. The book may be a bit outdated by now, but my wife and I have found it very helpful.

Just so it's clear: I'm not a doctor or anything like that (I am a graduate student in premodern Japanese literature). Moreover, I have no financial interest in plugging any of the products or companies mentioned above, and I don't want to sell you a blessed thing. I've provided the brand names here so that you'll know exactly what my wife has been taking.

I hope that some of this information will help you to alleviate or cure your headaches.

Best of luck to you.
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