Magnesium citrate is a remedy for more severe constipation. It is among a group of substances that relieve constipation by increasing the amount of fluids in the colon. They contain either salts or carbohydrates which promote the secretion of water into the colon. WIth more liquid a bowel movement can finally occur. Known as saline laxatives or osmotic agents, these substances are generally safe for occasional use, but they can create dependency if used often. Magnesium citrate, sorbitol, milk of magnesia, and epsom salts are osmotic agents.
Is it a good idea to take a magnesium citrate drink for serious constipation? When is it recommended? Are there safer options to try first?
Taking a Laxative Beverage
Magnesium citrate drinks are available over the counter at most drug stores. While they can be taken without a prescription it is important to
understand that a strong laxative will have a powerful effect on the bowels. Drinking a magnesium citrate solution you are likely to have a large and inevitable bowel movement in which stool that may have been accumulating for days is released. It should take from thirty minutes to three hours for the laxative to take effect.
As fluids will be lost along with the stool it is important to drink a glass of water after drinking the magnesium citrate. Dehydration is the most serious possible side effect of taking this laxative. Sigs of dehydration include decreased urination, dry mouth, and dizziness. Other possible side effects of the laxative include abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and gas.
Overuse can however cause more serious problems. The body can become accustomed to the help of the laxative, making it difficult to return to a normal, healthy cycle of bowel movements. This is not going to happen with one use, but a dependency can develop if you begin to rely on laxatives for constipation relief. Taking more then the proper dose for your body size can also lead to serious side effects. If you experience persistent diarrhea, mood changes, muscle weakness, or an irregular heart beat make sure you contact your doctor right away.
Constipation and Your Health
Because you will lose minerals as well as water when you take a magnesium citrate drink for serious constipation make sure you replace those minerals with a nutrient-rich diet. Try drinking a cup of dandelion or nettle tea for vitamins and minerals that the body can easily absorb. Drink fresh juices and eat fruits and vegetables. Also, making sure yogurt is a part of your diet will improve the health of your colon.
While taking magnesium citrate under your doctor’s recommendation or to address severe constipation on occasion should be safe it is important to understand that constipation can be a sign of or lead to more serious health problems. To improve your gastrointestinal well-being and put your body on track with healthy bowel movements try the following:
- Eat a diet rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber, this means eating a variety of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, and seeds
- Drink plenty of water, about eight glasses a day — dehydration can contribute to constipation
- Exercise — regular physical activity will help to move waste through the intestines
- Try bulk-forming agents for their laxative effect such as bran or psyllium
If you are unsure of magnesium citrate is right for you, talk to your doctor before use. There are many ways to relieve constipation and improve the health of your gastrointestinal tract.
Balch, Phyllis A. “Prescription for Nutritional Healing.” Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).
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