Magnesium is an abundant mineral in the body with approximately half of the supply located in the bones and the remainder in the muscles and soft tissues. It has great importance not only for general biochemistry, but also for neuro-muscular activity. For example, persistent or severe muscle pains are common signs of magnesium deficiency.
In general practice, oral supplements of magnesium (and other nutrients) have been reported beneficial for treating muscle cramps & discomfort. The problem, however, with oral dosing is that it takes a long time for it to work, and it can become complicated by poor absorption & diarrhoea (if given too much). Here is where the intravenous use of magnesium may be of additional value.
The use of intravenous magnesium in medicine is not a new phenomenon. Below is a partial list of research-supported uses of intravenous magnesium and its safety.
Musculoskeletal pain syndromes
Neuropathic pain in cancer patients
Reduces intra & post operative analgesic requirements
Corrects muscle cramps caused by magnesium deficiency
Acute asthma attack
Acute heart attack
Pre-eclampsia & eclampsia (in pregnancy)
Magnesium + other nutrients (Cocktail)
One of the concerns when using a single nutrient in higher doses, is it may create an imbalance or deficiency state in the others. Because of this delicate mineral & vitamin balances within the body we may also add in other supportive nutrients (i.e. calcium, b-vitamins, etc.)
Benefits reported from patients
Muscle relaxation (for both acute & chronic cases)
Enhanced recovery times
Reduced requirements for NSAIDs & muscle relaxants
Feeling of “calmness or tranquility”
Improved sleep quality
Support (i.e. for bones, muscles, nerves, and more)
In general, Magnesium is relaxing for the entire nervous system
How does magnesium work
It appears that the Magnesium temporarily blocks the excitement sites (known as NMDA) and calcium channel sites in the nervous system. These combined effects give Magnesium its analgesic properties. Thus, the lower the magnesium levels in your blood, the more pain you feel! (4). Magnesium, in addition, increases the general circulation throughout the body allowing for both increased oxygenation & waste removal in damaged tissues.
A treatment consists of a single intravenous injection lasting about 15 minutes. Most patients (>70%) report improvements after a single injection. For others, between 2-4 treatments may be needed for optimal results. Immediately following the first injection, people may note increased flexibility & movement. In our experience, the full effects are felt the next morning. For severe or acute cases, we recommend two treatments within a 48-hour time period if possible in order to try and break the pain-cycle.
Safety of Magnesium
Magnesium is considered a safe nutrient that is also quickly cleared. Patients may experience a mild feeling of warmth lasting a few seconds during the procedure. Consequently, a mild and transient blood pressure lowering effect may occur. Considerations are required for those with cardiovascular conditions. The speed of infusion may be adjusted as a consequence. Generally, during & after the injection people report on how calm and relaxed they feel.
Bilbey DLJ, Prabhakarab VM. Muscle cramps and magnesium deficiency: case reports. Can Fam Physician 1996;42:1348-51
Reed JC. Magnesium therapy in musculoskeletal pain syndromes retrospective review of clinical results. Magnesium Trace Elem 1990;9:330
Crosby V, et al. The safety and efficacy of a single dose of intravenous magnesium sulfate in neuropathic pain poorly responsive to strong opioid analgesics in patients with cancer. J Pain Symptom Manage 2000;19:35-39
Koinig H, et al. Magnesium sulfate reduces intra- and postoperative analgesic requirements. Anesth Analg 1998;87:206-10
Albrecht E et al. Peri-operative intravenous administration of magnesium sulfate and postoperative pain: a meta-analysis. Anaesthesia 2013; 68:1:79-90
Skobeloff EM, et al. Intravenous magnesium sulfate for the treatment of acute asthma in the emergency department. JAMA 1989;262:9:1210-13
Witlin AG, Sibai BM. Magnesium sulfate in preeclampsia and eclampsia. Obstet Gynecol 1998;92:5:883-89