magnets for migraines

In the UK, migraines are an extremely common complaint. In fact, it is estimated that there are 190,000 migraine attacks every day in England alone, and UK-wide there are 6 million suffering with migraines. Prevalence of migraines has been reported at 5-25% of women and 2-10% of men, while it’s estimated that as many as 1 in 1,000 people live with chronic migraines.[1]

Now, however, recent research suggests that pocket-sized magnets could be used to provide fast relief from migraine symptoms. Magnets have been used in the treatment of migraines for decades, but these smaller sized versions could make the treatment more accessible.

Dr Richard Lipton, vice chair of the department of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and director of the Montefiore Headache Centre explained the effectiveness of migraines when speaking to the New York Post, saying:

“Magnets stimulate the brain. Forms of magnet therapy have been used as both diagnostic and therapeutic tools for a very long time. The challenge was building a lightweight, portable device. But now we’ve accomplished that.”[2]

The research

The trail of this new magnet treatment was completed by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. It involved the use of treatment known as single pulse Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (sTMS), which has previously only been available in hospitals, and transferring it into a portable device.

The subject of the research was Barrington Simner, 72, from Bromley in south-east London, who suffered from migraines for more than 20 years.

Simner received sTMS in the form of a portable device placed on the back of the head for a few seconds, pressing a button to deliver a painful magnetic pulse into the brain. This works by stimulating cells in the outer surface of the brain, reducing the severity and frequency of migraines. It can be used up to eight times a day.

Describing his feelings towards the treatment, Simner commented:

“I started getting migraines when I turned 50 and over time they got progressively worse. At one point I was getting a migraine twice a week. They were completely debilitating […] I tried lots of different powerful painkillers, but the side-effects made me drowsy. sTMS is the only treatment that has worked for me.

“I’ve massively reduced the amount of painkillers I take. I am now able to volunteer, spend time gardening and enjoy life. I’m really thankful to the team at Guy’s and St Thomas’ for the care I’ve received. The treatment has completely changed my life.”[3]

Currently, Guy’s and St Thomas’ headache centre is the only NHS centre in the UK to offer this treatment.

Migraines are complex problems with many associated causes and symptoms

Migraines are the third most common disease in the world, with an estimated global impact of 14.7%, which works out at around one in seven people.[4] Despite this, the true cause of migraines has not yet been determined, and research into migraines is the least publicly funded of all neurological illnesses relative to its economic impact.[5]

With this in mind, it’s important to look at the research from Guy’s and St Thomas’ with a critical eye. While the results of the research into portable sTMS is promising, the experience of having a migraine is different for every sufferer, as is the treatment which works best. For many, taking steps to prevent triggers is the best solution.

For some people, lifestyle changes such as improving diet, drinking plenty of fluids, engaging in exercise and taking time away from electronic devices can all positively impact migraine symptoms. For others, effective medication is the only way to treat the condition in the long-term. For example, upon its release in the early 1990s, studies found sumatriptan to be “an effective long-term acute treatment for migraine.”[6]

Leading migraine treatments such as Sumatriptan and Imigran can be obtained quickly and easily from the NHS-approved pharmacists at Express Pharmacy. For more information, call us on 0208 123 07 03 or use our discreet live chat


[1] National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). Botulinum toxin type A for the prophylaxis of headaches in adults with chronic migraine. 2011 [Accessed February 2019]

[2] Malamut, M. The next big thing in migraine pain relief is already here. New York Post. 2019 [Accessed February 2019]

[3] Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Foundation Trust. Grandfather thanks hospital for life-changing migraine treatment. NHS UK. 2019 [Accessed February 2019]

[4] Steiner, T.J. et al. Migraine: the seventh disabler. The Journal of Headache and Pain. 2013 [Accessed February 2019]

[5] Shapiro, R.E., Goadsby, P.J. The long drought: the dearth of public funding for headache research. Cephalalgia, 2007 [Accessed February 2019]

[6] Pilgrim, A.J., The clinical profile of sumatriptan: efficacy in migraine. 1994 [Accessed February 2019]