A quick search of Medline brought up numerous references to the connection between magnesium deficiency and asthma. In the past the connection was clouded because researchers were trying to connect asthma to the SERUM level of magnesium, but serum levels cloak the intracellular deficiencies of Mg, so they found no connection. There is still no easy test for Mg deficiency, but by using tissue samples it is with difficulty possible to determine the intracellular deficiency, so now the connection to asthma is becoming clear. Some excerpts from Medline Abstracts appear below.
Dietary Magnesium, Lung Function, Wheezing, And Airway Hyperreactivity In a Random Adult Population Sample. Lancet 1994 Aug 6;344(8919):357-62.
Low magnesium intake may be involved in the aetiology of asthma and chronic obstructive airways disease.
Effect of Parenteral Magnesium Sulphate On Pulmonary Functions In Bronchial Asthma. J. Asthma 1994;31(2):109-15.
They infused MgSO4 and found: It is concluded that modest improvement in airways resistance and specific conductance and only small improvement in maximal expiratory flow rates is consistent with a predominant effect of MgSO4 on large airways in patients with bronchial asthma.
Clinical Studies With The Nova ISE for IMg2+. Scand. J. Clin. Lab Invest Suppl 1994;217:53-67.
The Ca2+/Mg2+ ratio appears to be an important guide for signs of vascoconstriction and/or spasm and possibly enhanced athergenesis. Overall, the data point to important uses for ISE's for IMg2+ in the diagnosis and treatment of disease states. (He studied asthma).
The Role Of Disorders In The Homeostasis Of Divalent Cations In The Pathogenesis And Clinical Picture Of Bronchial Asthma. (Russian) Ter Arkh 1994; 66(3):8-12.
Lack of Mg and excess of Ca in blood cells (seem to be)... responsible for bronchial hyperreactivity.
Rapid Infusion Of Magnesium Sulphate Obviates Need For Intubation In Status Asthmaticus. Am J Emerg Med 1994 Mar;12(2):164-6.
Rapid infusion of MgSO4 .... obviated the need for endotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation.
Magnesium Sulphate Potentiates Several Cardiovascular And Metabolic Actions of Terbutaline. Chest 1994 Mar;105(3):701-5.
MgSO4 has been shown to be efficacious .... for the emergency treatment of asthma.
Magnesium And Its Therapeutic Uses; A Review. Am J Med 1994 Jan; 96(1):63-76
Evidence investigating magnesium's use is presented, with a number of studies suggesting it should be seriously considered in such conditions as .... asthma.
Role of Magnesium In Regulation Of Lung Function. J Am Diet Assoc 1993 Jun;93(6):674-7
(Indicates patients should be monitored routinely for Mg deficiency).
Intravenous Magnesium For Acute Asthma. Ann Emerg Med 1993 Mar;22(3):617-9 (letter)
Hypomagnesemia Due to beta 2-agonist Use In Bronchial Asthma (letter). J Assoc Physicians India 1992 May;40(5):346
There were many other studies and references to magnesium and asthma. Many of the studies noted that drugs used in the treatment of asthma caused loss of magnesium. A great many drugs, including alcohol, cause rapid loss of magnesium. Common sense would suggest that instead of waiting for an asthma attack before administering magnesium, oral magnesium supplementation should be a part of treatment for asthma as a preventive.
I suggest treating physicians advise asthmatics to consume at least 6 mg magnesium per day for each kilogram of body weight. An even higher intake of 10 mg/day per Kg of body weight may be desirable provided that it does not trigger a laxative effect. Breaking the dosage into three or four parts taken at different times of day helps prevent laxative effect. Magnesium hydroxide is NOT recommended because of poor bioavailability and because I know of no instance of it having any beneficial use other than as a laxative. Other Mg compounds appear to be better, including Mg oxide, Mg sulphate, and Mg citrate. Natural magnesium in water (magnesium carbonate dissolved in CO2-rich water) is 30% more bio-available than Mg in food or pill, and offers much greater cardio-protection. If pills are used, we suggest chelated, Krebs cycle, with several Mg compounds; this gives greater bio- availability, and doesn't upset the stomach.
This page was first uploaded to The Magnesium Web Site on September 30, 1995