“Magnesium has changed my life, I used to get constipated and then got diarrhea. Of anything that I have ever received this is one thing that has helped my life. I was afraid to leave the house. I used to have to prep three or four days to get out. No problem anymore!”
My patient had suffered from irritable bowel syndrome with constipation and had been advised by another physician to take miralax. Miralax is polyethylene glycol which is an osmotic laxative which means that this polymer makes the gut ooze out fluid into the gut using the process of omosis and this makes the stool more liquid.
Constipation is a very common problem with the prevalence of constipation in the general population estimated to be 20% while the prevalence of Irritable Bowel syndrome that is constipation predominant is around 35-40% of the population.
While Miralax or Polyethylene glycol works well for diarrhea, magnesium works the same way by exerting an osmotic influence and pulling more fluid into the bowels. However, magnesium is also more natural and has many more benefits.
Magnesium prevents muscle cramps while working to relax tight muscles. This is why it is sometimes given intravenously during an asthma attack to help relax the muscles that are clamping down and closing the airways. People who get leg cramps find that taking magnesium helps prevent these painful cramps that often happen at night time.
It also helps to reduce the excessive excitability of the heart and prevents palpitations. Many people have extra heart beats called Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs) and magnesium reduces the occurrence of these skipped heart beats.
Magnesium has been shown to help prevent migraines. Migraines are believed to be caused by spasms in the arteries leading to the brain and since magnesium relaxes the muscles in these arteries that spasm, it can help prevent migraines.
Food are more deficient in magnesium compared to just a few years ago. Industrialized farming with nitrogenous fertilizers allows crops to grow in spite of being deficient in essential nutrients.
Alcohol use and use of medications caused diuretics also cause loss of magnesium from the body. Taking magnesium to help constipation and Irritable bowel syndrome might help to replace magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium is important when the body is trying to absorb calcium. When the body absorbs calcium, the presence of magnesium makes it easier to absorb calcium. Calcium is important for the bones and is hard to absorb so having magnesium present to aid the process is important.
So, clearly, magnesium has many benefits so why do more doctors not recommend magnesium for constipation? Many people have tried magnesium citrate that is commonly found in green bottles and this can be too strong and cause diarrhea. It is better to use more gentler forms of magnesium that might not cause as much diarrhea. Most physicians are more attuned to ordering something that is FDA approved rather than supplements for which the purity and quality is not tested and monitored. That is why many patients have to take matters in their own hands and research their own supplements and natural options.
Magnesium as a taurate, chelate or glycinate are more organic forms that are gentler on the system and do not cause as much diarrhea. These are also better absorbed while other types of magnesium such as magnesium oxide pass out of the body without getting absorbed.
Crinnion WJ. Organic foods contain higher levels of certain nutrients, lower levels of pesticides, and may provide health benefits for the consumer. Altern Med Rev. 2010;15(1):4-12.
DiNicolantonio JJ, Liu J, O’Keefe JHMagnesium for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseaseOpen Heart 2018;5:e000775. doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2018-000775
Yablon LA, Mauskop A. Magnesium in headache. In: Vink R, Nechifor M, editors. Magnesium in the Central Nervous System [Internet]. Adelaide (AU): University of Adelaide Press; 2011. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507271/