Magnesium is a mineral which is found naturally in some foods but is also available in supplement form. Magnesium is typically used by constipation-predominant IBS sufferers. If you are diarrhea-predominant then the calcium supplement Caltrate Plus would be more appropriate. It is also important to note that magnesium supplements are not the same as milk of magnesia. Magnesium supplements are available from health food stores in various forms, such as magnesium oxide, magnesium amino acid chelate, and magnesium citrate. They are usually available in tablet form.
REVIEWS OF MAGNESIUM
Review by Bergamotte
I'm writing on behalf of my husband, who has Parkinson's, to share our experience using transdermal magnesium for IBS with alternating constipation and diarrhea.
We had used transdermal magnesium (also called "magnesium oil") for other things in the past; it relieved some of the stiffness of Parkinson's, it relieved muscle spasms in the back, it relieved cramps in the calf muscles and it relieved nervous twitches in the face. Because my husband was suffering so much in the diarrhea phase of IBS, running to the bathroom every 10 minutes and absolutely exhausted, I thought, "Why not massage his back, arms and legs with magnesium oil and see if it relieves the spastic bowel"?
Wow! Ten minutes after doing this, the spasticity was relieved and it didn't come back! We nearly cried with relief. We make sure to do magnesium oil massage at least once a week so that this problem doesn't return.
Of course, magnesium is not the whole answer. You still need to correct your diet to avoid trigger foods and you need to use probiotics, etc to restore your intestinal flora and heal the gut. But, in our experience, transdermal magnesium is the magic bullet for relieving bowel spasticity. Since you apply it to the skin, there are no concerns about loose stools. It goes straight into the circulation and goes to work relaxing the muscles that are spastic.
Magnesium oil can be purchased at health food stores and online, but I make my own, buying Zechstein magnesium chloride flakes, stirring a cup of flakes into a cup of water in a bowl until completely dissolved and funneling the liquid into a spray bottle. So cheap, so easy; maybe $20 for a year's supply.
Spray it into the palm of your hand, rub the hands together and massage it into your back, arms, legs, wherever you can easily reach. Warning: it's best to apply the magnesium oil in the bathroom right after a shower or bath, as mag chloride can bleach fabric. Get dressed only after the magnesium oil has been massaged into the skin and dried.
Review by Christine
I have had 18 years of IBS. I was diagnosed around the same time as I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The IBS would hit out of nowhere, or so I thought at the time. In the beginning I went to the emergency room. Then I was using one to three levsin for acute attacks. I've had two colonoscopies, upper and lower GI, etc...
I started with small steps...no sugar-free gum, no carbonated beverages at all. About three years ago my nurse practitioner recommended magnesium malate (magnesium plus malic acid) for the fibromyalgia. She said to start with one or two 1300mg magnesium malate tablets at night and if it caused diarrhea to cut back. She said you could always add more until it caused diarrhea.
It did two things. It helped with sleep, eased muscle cramps in bowels and body and got rid of my diarrhea/severe constipation cycles. Occasionally I get muscle cramps during the day and can take another couple of magnesium malates when that happens. Also, I had it worse in the morning. I found that when I substituted lactose-free milk the diarrhea went away.
Now I have three or four bowel movements during the day with no constipation. I also take B12 and vitamin D but the magnesium malate, no carbonation and lactose-free milk have pretty much cured me. (I substitute almond milk when I get the coffee out.) This is a relief because my father has an ostomy bag from ulcerative colitis and I had worries about following in his footsteps.
Review by Dawn
I was diagnosed with IBS back in 2003 and predominantly suffered with diarrhea. After giving birth to my daughter in 2008 my symptoms changed completely. I suffered daily with severe bloating, cramps, very painful trapped wind and I wouldn't have a BM for seven to 14 days. When I eventually did go to the toilet it would be incredibly hard work and I would be left feeling like I hadn't finished. Several times I have had to be treated for fecal impaction.
I have been given lots of different fiber supplements but nothing helped to ease all of my symptoms. After giving birth to my little boy in 2011 and having trouble breastfeeding I was told to take a calcium/magnesium supplement daily and to up the dose a week before my period. It really helped with the breastfeeding and I also started to have a good BM most days. I stopped taking the supplements as my little boy reduced his feedings and shortly afterwards all the same problems returned.
I decided to try magnesium again about five months ago and the results are fantastic. I take 750mg to 1000mg each night before bed as I find an empty stomach gives better results. I do not suffer with bloating, cramps or wind and I don't have that heavy uncomfortable feeling in my tummy. It has also helped with my overall self-confidence as I do not look six months pregnant all the time! I would recommend it to anybody!
Review by Brandy
I took magnesium after suffering for years from IBS-C. Everything I tried would work for a while but then stop working (Maalox, milk of magnesia, probiotics, Miralax, Bentyl, etc). I tried magnesium, taking one pill at night at first and it worked perfectly, giving me one or two BMs a day (instead of maybe one a week).
I found I had to keep increasing my dose and eventually, after a year or so, I realized I was taking three or four pills at night (with vitamin C) just to have a BM. Also I noticed I was very tired and my stomach was just not right and felt sour all the time, always gurgling at me. It was almost a hungry feeling but I wasn't hungry, although food made me feel better.
I had to stop taking it off and on and eventually, unless I had stopped taking it for a couple of weeks, it wouldn't produce a BM. Sadly I am still on a quest to find something that works long term.
Review by Lela
I was diagnosed with IBS-C in my forties but I've had proctalgia fugax since I was 23 off and on. I am happy to inform you that since I started taking magnesium off and on I don't have a problem. Once I stopped taking it and I got the constipation with the symptoms of tugging, low back ache which I recognized immediately. I started taking magnesium as recommended and within 48 hours it was completely gone. I am so happy about it. Magnesium regulates muscle function and that applies to intestinal muscles too.
Review by Wil
I take magnesium whenever I need to relieve my body of constipation. I tend to get constipated when I eat highly refined foods such as white rice, white-floured breads like that of pizza dough, and even pasta. I normally have bowel movements like a baby, which means that if I eat three times a day, I will have a movement three times a day. Whenever I eat these challenging foods, they tend to back me up for up to as many as three days with extremely hard bowel movements or no movements at all. And because I continue to eat regularly each day, I will begin to bloat.
In the past I had used over-the-counter laxatives which caused my heart to palpitate within a couple of hours of use. This was very scary to me because I do not have any type of heart condition. The magnesium that I have been using gives me no side effects whatsoever. I have also noticed that after one day of recommended use, my body will continue to expel most of the waste over a 12-hour period and I will return to regularity and remain regular without the need of more magnesium. This is really good stuff.
I mainly eat "good" foods, all natural, from scratch like Grandma used to make. I have to admit, when I relieve my constipation with magnesium I might have a gas problem, not always, maybe 30 percent of the time. So to solve this problem, I eat all-natural yogurts or Kefir. After I eat a couple of servings for one or two days, my gas problem goes away and I have fully functioning bowels without issues.
Review by Linda
I have suffered from a lazy bowel all my life. This has caused me to have an overgrowth of bacteria in my gut. Three years ago I had a colonoscopy and received a diagnosis of IBS, yet the doctor did not recommend taking any sort of supplements for my constipation. I recently started taking 1200mg of magnesium oxide (which I now realize is too much for me since it gave me loose stools, so I will reduce the dosage) and I am pleased to finally find a product that works without having to take harsh laxatives.
Review by Natasha
I was told by a doctor that taking 1000mg of magnesium supplements each day could help my severe IBS-C. I tried it since I'm so desperate (I'm lucky if I have one BM every month) and got horrible cramps. I did research online and found out that high doses of magnesium might cause side effects like nausea, cramps, vomiting, fatigue. I was shocked and mad at myself for not researching this to begin with. I then lowered my intake to 250mg since 350 or less is apparently OK for most people. I noticed the cramps went away but I still have severe IBS constipation so it didn't help.
Review by Jenny
From everything I'd read I was pretty optimistic about magnesium. I started taking it in addition to Lactulose and initially I seemed to be getting some results. I was taking 750mg once a day, before bed, as that was about the recommended dose. However after less than a week not only did it not seem to be working any more, I think I was getting some nasty side effects.
I think you have to be really careful when you get your health advice from the internet and treat yourself; I'd read nothing to indicate there could be any problem with taking magnesium but after a day of a weak, racing pulse and feeling shaky and weird I found information that high doses of magnesium might cause low blood pressure and other related symptoms. So I stopped taking it immediately.
Review by Kelli
I tried taking magnesium oxide (1000mg) with one cup of water when I woke up in the morning but it hasn't helped my severe IBS C. I thought magnesium would help but sadly it won't just like everything else.
Review by Judy
I have just started taking one 250mg magnesium tablet every night before I retire, and this has helped my IBS constipation problem about 100%. I am in my 60's, and I have suffered with constipation for at least the last 15 years. I had two colonoscopies and nothing was found except the IBS. My sister-in-law and her sister told me about these miracle pills on Christmas Day 2009. They took a higher dose than me - I only need the 250mg and just once a day.
My father and his sister suffered from this illness and we had to take my aunt to the emergency room every summer because of her constipation. I feel that these pills are a miracle happening! I had tried fiber, laxatives, and had to keep enemas close at hand, but not anymore. Thank you magnesium!
Review by Tim
I was diagnosed with IBS-C approximately three years ago. Before then I had occasional constipation (like once a year) but then suddenly I was constipated almost every other day and could not find relief without taking a painful enema or suppository. My doctor kept recommending things like milk of magnesia, mineral oil, and a bunch of other laxatives that didn't work.
After months of suffering I discovered magnesium oxide. I was doubtful about it, but it worked - and in just four hours too. Unfortunately though at least once a week I will get constipated and the magnesium relieves me, but when I go it is diarrhea. I've just started taking magnesium citrate pills to see if they will help me stay regular so that I won't have to have diarrhea.
Review by Dani
I began taking magnesium oxide for my constipation-predominant IBS about a week and a half ago, and so far, so good. My doctor recommended I start with 750mg (three 250mg pills) twice a day - which was too much (diarrhea). I cut back to 750mg once a day, at bedtime. This seems to be the right dosage for me. I have been going almost every day since I began the supplements. I feel so much better.
I am terrified the MagOx is going to stop working, because this is the only thing that has helped me so far; I'm scared of the dependency laxatives cause, fiber doesn't work, and so much of what I've heard about Amitiza worries me.
I've been suffering from IBS for the past year or so, and regularly go five to seven days with no relief, at which time I'll have to take a laxative - which I hate doing. I am cautiously hopeful that the MagOx will continue to work so that I can live my life without the stress and discomfort of my IBS symptoms.
I also have an Activia yogurt and a cup of coffee every morning...I think this routine may be helpful in conjunction with the MagOx, but it doesn't do much on its own.
Update on Dani...
I last reviewed magnesium oxide in October 2007, at which time I'd been taking it for about a week and a half in order to treat my IBS. It's now May 2008 and I am relieved to report that the magnesium is still working for me. It has changed my life. I will keep hoping/praying that it continues to help, indefinitely. I now take four 250mg tablets once a day, at bedtime.
Review by Cheryl
I am a former Zelnorm patient and I was devastated when it was pulled from the market. I tried Amitiza with miserable results. My latest is magnesium, 750mg at bedtime with one cap of Miralax. It is a great combination and I actually prefer it to Zelnorm. My sister does the same thing and is doing well too! I buy the 250mg tablets and take three. I am going to try taking two to see if it is as effective.
Review by Vanessa
I have had IBS-C for over two years now and I thought my life was over when Zelnorm was taken off the market. However, for the past few weeks I've been taking the magnesium supplement MagOx (magnesium oxide), in conjunction with the probiotic Theralac, and I feel fantastic!
I take two of the MagOx caplets every day and I have been completely pain, cramps and constipation free. Too much magnesium at first can cause diarrhea and bloating, so it's important to gradually increase the dosage, if needed. Of course, I still have a modified diet, but I do not feel at all deprived. I can have a little dairy and fried food here and there, without any major problems. I honestly feel like I have my life back.
Review by Jan
I've been an IBS sufferer for approximately 19 years now, some years better than others. I've found that if I take two 300mg magnesium capsules at night I can comfortably go to the toilet after breakfast at around 8.30am the next morning - completely and totally clean as a whistle, without any further problems during the day. I find the key is to always start the day with an 'empty bowel'. I've learnt that some foods, ie: dairy products, especially cheese, can gum me up, but if I take my capsules each night then I will be fine in the morning.
Review by A
I have found that magnesium oxide combined with vitamin C has helped my constipation. I have been an IBS sufferer for over six years, with severe bouts of constipation (lasting five to 10 days straight), and laxatives were too harsh or ineffective. I get magnesium oxide in a powder form and mix one teaspoon with eight ounces of orange juice (100% vitamin C). The powder tastes atrocious but the orange juice helps to mask the taste. I also drink plenty of water to aid in digestion and motility. It's a Godsend!
Review by Deirdre
I've had IBS for a few months now. I started taking magnesium supplements about two weeks ago, and it has helped a lot with the constipation. I recommend them!