There are different types and causes of migraine headaches. Below I will discuss several causes.
Magnesium deficiency brought on by too much calcium and not enough magnesium can produce migraines. This is based on personal experience, anecdotal evidence, and internet research of medical journals. In particular, they can cause aural migraines, which are intense headaches preceded by a flashing pattern in one’s field of vision, which are due to localized seizures in the occipetal lobe. If eating a high-calcium food such as cheese, yogurt, broccoli, or similar produces such migraines, then that would suggest an imbalance in magnesium and calcium ratios.
Magnesium supplements, some are better than others. Avoid aspartate and oxide forms, as the first is an excitotoxin that can trigger headaches and the latter is poorly absorbed. Glycinate, citrate, orotate, and taurate are good. Source Naturals Ultra-Mag (Amazon link) is a decent combination of good forms of magnesium.
Caffeine or Alcohol Hangover
Caffeine blocks the cell receptors that signal your body that it’s tired. As a consequence, you feel energized at the cost of cellular waste products (from being awake) and certain substances building up that normally get reduced or recycled via sleep. One of those is adenosine, and since the body feels like there is little or no adenosine due to receptors of adenosine being blocked, it produces more. Eventually the caffeine wears off and all that adenosine rushes forth, leading to fatigue. Further, adenosine has effects on blood vessels, including those in the brain, and also affects nerve sensitivity. The result is a migraine preceded by fatigue, preceded by a period of being amped up by caffeine.
Alcohol, meanwhile, converts into acetaldehyde in the body, a potent mycotoxin that is normally broken down further by enzymes your body produces for the task. But this detoxification doesn’t happen perfectly or instantly, and in some people with a genetic defect including most Asians, the gene is lacking to neutralize acetaldehyde. Whatever the case, that substance builds up and does damage and that, together with dehydration, is what supposedly causes hangover headaches. It’s a form of chemical trauma.
Certain foods can trigger allergic responses, inflammatory/immune responses, or can act as surrogate caffeine-like substances that block adenosine receptors. The end result is that they too, will cause a migraine after a period of time. What makes them allergy-like is that it doesn’t take much in terms of quantity to trigger a reaction.
In cases where people lack the genes or liver function to detoxify certain hepatoxic (liver-damaging) substances, these can build up and like acetaldehyde lead to headaches. If that process were supported or sped up, then the migraine wouldn’t be as severe.
The only way to know what the food triggers are, is to log what you eat and correlate it with the timing and intensity of a migraine. For example, let’s say you are sensitive to the herb basil. After consuming it, it may induce a caffeine-like reaction within a couple hours, leading to problems sleeping for a period of time as the reaction progresses. Eventually it wears off, and the built-up adenosine floods the receptor sites and an extended migraine follows.
What Literature Recommends
So in addition to magnesium, other mentioned remedies include Sodium-R-Alpha-Lipoic-Acid (Na-R-ALA) and CoQ10, and if you are a woman, then also Milk Thistle extract (female, because it has estrogenic effects which is not good for men).
The latter three act as potent detoxifiers, antioxidants, and protectants according to research, which is easy to find if you investigate each of these supplements. Ubiquinol helps in the production of ATP (adenosine-triphosphate) and thus may help convert existing adenosine back into ATP, clearing what would otherwise be a tsunami effect on the adenosine receptors. This would be especially important on the fatigue stage preceding a migraine.
Na-R-ALA, meanwhile, is a detoxifier that would do its job best during or shortly after eating/consuming something that might have a toxic or sensitivity triggering effect. Avoid the regular alpha lipoic form, and stick to the stabilized Na-R-ALA form because alpha lipoic by itself is extremely unstable and polymerizes (turns into plastic goo) at body temperatures. In fact, what might leave a warehouse in pure alpha lipoic form can become mostly polymer by the time it reaches your mailbox due to temperature degradation. The sodium stabilized version doesn’t have this problem, and studies show it’s way more absorbable (more than 40x).
Milk Thistle Extract, or rather the sylimarin in there, acts as a sacrificial neutralizer of toxins that the liver would otherwise have to make enzymes to break down. So it eases the burden on the liver. But again, in males it will have estrogenic effects so isn’t recommended.
Many people claim they take the above for general health and vitality reasons too, not just for migraines, and the product reviews speak highly of their efficacy. For instance, there are studies on how lipoic acid (in whatever absorbable form, including sodium stabilized) was effective in diabetics and those with kidney disease. So it’s not just headaches, but other issues that are reportedly attenuated.
There are other less common causes of migraines such as brain injury, growth spurts when the skull is changing shape, nonphysical causes, sodium deficiency, and hormonal issues. Here I just covered some of the more prevalent ones I am familiar with.