The Key to Proper Hydration is Electrolytes!
Yes, we’ve all heard this one before – those with migraines need to hydrate. What some of us haven’t heard is that drinking water doesn’t make your cells hydrated if your electrolyte balance is off. The cells need an optimal ratio of potassium to sodium in order for the potassium/sodium channels to work (as well as magnesium and calcium, but potassium and sodium are the most important for actually getting rid of a migraine). I’m sharing my own DIY electrolyte recipe so that you can make some yourself and have it on hand to drink when you feel a migraine coming on, or preventatively.
Buying pre-formulated electrolyte powders won’t work as well because most of them are formulated for athletes who lose a lot of sodium or aren’t directly formulated for migraineurs. Migraineurs need a higher potassium to sodium ratio to help the sodium potassium channels work optimally properly. Migraineurs also lose more electrolytes due to kidney dysfunction, so must replenish more frequently than most people to stay hydrated (since their kidneys don’t reabsorb minerals as efficiently).
DIY Electrolyte Recipe for Migraine
4 parts potassium gluconate powder (I use NOW brand potassium gluconate)
1 part sodium chloride salt (I use sea salt or Himalayan Pink Salt but any kind will do)
8 parts Acerola Cherry Powder Vitamin C (I have used Terrasoul Superfoods Brand)
To make a big batch of electrolyte powder reflecting the above ratios, I tend to mix up 1/2 cup of potassium gluconate, 1/8 cup of salt, and 1 cup of acerola powder. Then I mix approximately 1 Tablespoon of this mixture in 1-2 cups of water or juice (depending on your sensitivity to sugar). I add 1 teaspoon of maple syrup for taste so that it’s not so tart, tho it will work just as well without it.
Alternately, if you’d like to get phosphorous and calcium in your electrolyte drink, you can also use SaltSticks. For every 1 SaltSticks capsule use 1 teaspoon of potassium powder (I use NOW brand potassium gluconate). I just open up 30 capsules of SaltSticks, pour them into a jar and mix them with 10 Tablespoons of potassium powder and 20 Tablespoons of Acerola powder so I have a lot on hand.
Note that I’ve added Vitamin C to this DIY electrolyte recipe (which isn’t an electrolyte) because it is a mast cell stabilizer, supports brain health, and lowers histamine. Unlike lab-created vitamin C powders which are created through a fermentation process, Acerola powder offers up vitamin C in a whole-food form. You can make this electrolyte mix without the vitamin C but the vitamin C will greatly help those with migraines. Vitamin C is incredibly important for both brain and adrenal health, since it helps to increase progesterone (a glutamate scavenger) and serotonin (which most people with migraine are low in).
I take this electrolyte drink for maintenance but it can be very effective if you feel a migraine coming on or have brain fog. You may need to take this every few hours and/or drink it with a lot of extra water to stave a migraine off.
Adding in Magnesium as an Essential Electrolyte
Personally, I also like to add magnesium chloride to this DIY electrolyte recipe, because it is easier for me to take this all at once rather than separately. I’ve found I do better taking magnesium in the morning rather than evening. I make my own magnesium chloride at a 1:1 ratio with hot water until the chloride flakes dissolve, then add 1/2 teaspoon of this to my electrolyte drink. Magnesium is essential for proper absorption of Vitamin D and is a precursor to Serotonin (among other things).
One of the many chemical reactions in your body is the release of serotonin. Serotonin acts as a neurotransmitter by relaying messages from one area of the brain to another. Of the approximately 40 million brain cells, most are influenced by serotonin either directly or indirectly. This includes brain cells related to mood, depression, sexual desire and function, sleep, memory, appetite and some social behavior.
Serotonin is dependent on magnesium. The biochemical reactions necessary for serotonin, which is the brains natural feel good drug, cannot function properly if you are suffering from low magnesium. (Source)
Taking supplemental magnesium will make your stool softer. Magnesium gluconate seems to be the most well-tolerated form of magnesium taken internally. Using this same 1:1 ratio of magnesium chloride flakes to water to make a magnesium oil that can be applied topically is an alternative solution to oral intake for those that have trouble digesting the magnesium.
Also, keep in mind that magnesium is necessary in the body for proper detoxification, therefore, may cause detoxification symptoms with its use. Detoxification symptoms include headache, fatigue, brain fog, body ache, and other similar ailments, so it’s important to go slow if you are just starting out with magnesium supplementation.
Test How Well this Drink is Working by Measuring Your Blood Pressure
Of course, you should know whether this drink is working for you by way of your symptoms improving or being alleviated. But it’s also valuable to check your blood pressure. Most people with migraine have low blood pressure. You can buy a hand-held blood pressure cuff at your local drug store. You need to know your normal resting blood pressure in order to see how much your blood pressure will go up after getting proper electrolytes.
For me, my normal blood pressure is 100/60. I have brain fog symptoms starting at about 94/60. Taking salt or electrolytes usually raises my blood pressure back to 98 or 100/60, and symptoms subside.
Please note that this information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat migraines, or act as a replacement for medical care from a medical professional.