Milk of Magnesia: What is It? + Benefits and Risks

Milk of magnesia is a common name for a chemical Magnesium hydroxide, a white suspension carbonate in water and widely used as antacid or laxative.

Milk of Magnesia

Milk of magnesia is a common name for a chemical Magnesium hydroxide, a white suspension carbonate in water and widely used as antacid or laxative.


What is Milk of Magnesia?

It is a common over-the-counter medication for constipation. Constipation is a condition of the digestive system that affects both young and adult. There is a difficulty in emptying the bowels, due to hardened feces. In addition, milk of magnesia also reduces stomach acid and increase water in the intestine which may induce feces release.

Its commonly referred to as milk of magnesia because of its milk-like appearance. The mineral form of magnesium hydroxide is called brucite. Milk of magnesia as antacid was invented by Charles Henry Philips, a United States chemist. There are two types available in the market, a chewable tablet or a liquid form. It is also available as a regular strength or a concentrated liquid.

Eating too many dairy products, low-fiber diet, drinking too little water, sedentary lifestyle and some medications (sedatives, iron pills or anti-hypertensive) may cause constipation. In addition, there are other health issues that increase susceptibility to constipation such as Irritable bowel syndrome(IBS), Thyroid disorders, Colon cancer, and Parkinson’s disease.

Milk of magnesia contains magnesium, a mineral essential for maintaining normal nerve and muscle function. In addition, supports a healthy immune system, keep the heartbeat steady and help the bone remain strong. The human body requires magnesium to function.


Benefits of Milk of Magnesia

1. Laxative

As a laxative, milk of magnesia induces bowel movements by increasing water in the intestines. You can use this for occasional constipation relief. However, excessive use affects the colon’s contracting function and may potentially damage large intestine’s nerve. It produces a bowel movement within 30 minutes to 6 hours. However, you need to see a doctor for cases of constant constipation.

2. Antacid effects relieve heartburn or acid reflux

Antacid function as a neutralizer of stomach acid and is used to relieve heartburn, sour stomach, acid indigestion, and stomach upset. Its function is to get rid of body’s gastric acid. To clarify, not to be used for more than 14 days consecutively because extended use may cause serious side effects.

3. Indigestion

It helps calms your stomach from too much acid and treats infrequent bowel movements.

4. Skin problems

Had been used for oily skin and as an acne treatment through a topical application. When applied in a small amount, it may reduce excess oils that lead to skin breakouts. StyleCraze advises that applying milk of magnesia should only be done with oily skin problems. Otherwise, it might cause dryness and tightness that could result in further skin irritation.

5. Treat wounds and act as a disinfectant

It treats wounds, rashes and canker sores due to its healing properties that neutralize acids. Aside from balancing the skin, it may also act as a disinfectant to prevent skin complications. The zinc ingredients help kill bacteria.

6. Makeup primer

Used as a makeup primer base for foundation to oily skin as it controls shine and tightens the pores. It protects the skin from harsh cosmetics while it holds makeup on for the day.

7. Milk of Magnesia as Deodorant

It has antibacterial properties which make it ideal for a natural deodorant alternative. Works great to prevent body odor. This, however, will not work to prevent perspiration. If you want to prevent body odor with dry underarm, use with either baby powder or baking soda.

8. Get Rid of Dandruff

You can use it to treat dandruff. On wet hair, massage milk of magnesia on your scalp then leave it on for at least 15 minutes. Next, rinse your hair and then follow up with shampoo. Milk of magnesia will soothe the itchy scalp and flaky skin.

9. Soothe Sunburn Pain

Sunburned skin can also be soothed with milk of magnesia. It speeds up healing time and the discomfort get milder. It works best applied in a thin coat before bedtime with the affected area of the skin.


Milk of Magnesia Risks

The numerous uses and potential benefits of milk of magnesia make it an ideal home remedy for many health issues. It is recommended to explore more natural methods in the treatment of constipation before using milk of magnesia. However, it also carries more serious side effects. Serious side effects occur if a person takes on more than is recommended. People who are taking this medicine needs plenty of water intake to avoid dehydration. Get medical help if you have any of the following symptoms:

  1. An overdose on the milk of magnesia needs emergency medical attention. Symptoms of an overdose are:
    • Severe diarrhea
    • Muscle weakness
    • Mood change
    • Slow or irregular heartbeat
    • Little or no urination
  2. Allergic to the milk of magnesia. Signs of an allergic reaction that needs medical attention.
    • Hives
    • Difficulty of breathing
    • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
  3. People with kidney problems are unable to tolerate excess magnesium. It may overwhelm the system and will result in magnesium toxicity.
  4. Pregnancy and breastfeeding because the magnesium may be able to cross the placenta into the fetus. As there is no data to support this, the general advice is to avoid using milk of magnesia when pregnant or breastfeeding.
  5. Milk of magnesia can decrease the absorption of other drugs such as tetracycline antibiotics, digoxin, penicillamine, bisphosphonates, and certain azole antifungals(ketoconazole, itraconazole).

Constipation is a condition that affects nearly everyone. Around 19% of the U.S. population experiences constipation and the go-to relief to this condition is the milk of magnesia. I consider this a useful discovery because it alleviated its management of constipation. Just imagine the world without antacid and laxative, then one can realize its value. This article gave us a glimpse of its other health benefits as well as its risks factors. The milk of magnesia should be taken with caution. To conclude, its benefits outweigh the risk.

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