Using magnesium for constipation requires more than simply choosing the correct supplement and dosage. To correctly use magnesium to relieve constipation, you need to take into account the type of supplement, the recommended amount and any medications you may already be taking—even if they are not for constipation. You may also want to consult your physician if you plan to use magnesium on a regular basis to treat chronic constipation.
To alleviate constipation, magnesium works in two different ways. The first is by relaxing the muscles within the intestines to allow the passing of excrement. Magnesium also works by attracting water to cells and the intestines, making stool softer and making it easier to pass.
It is generally a good idea to take a supplement which consists solely of magnesium for constipation. Many supplements combine this mineral with others such as calcium, but calcium has a binding effect, which may worsen constipation, and other minerals or vitamins may also cause complications. Some choose to take a daily supplement of magnesium, while others only take it when needed. These supplements normally come in the form of pills, liquid, and powder.
One common way to take magnesium for treating constipation as needed is to use magnesium sulfate. The common name for this is Epsom salt, and it generally provides relief very quickly. To do this, you may mix 1 to 2 teaspoons (about 10 grams) of the magnesium sulfate into 4 to 8 ounces (120 to 480 mL) of cold water. Drink the whole mixture in one sitting. It may also be a good idea to have a follow-up drink, as the taste is not particularly pleasant.
Many over-the-counter medications also contain magnesium for constipation. It is important to use these medications only as directed. It is also beneficial to note that milk of magnesia is not a magnesium supplement and is intended for fast relief rather than use as an on-going treatment. Milk of magnesia is generally considered less safe than magnesium supplements and should be used very rarely.
There are cautions to using magnesium for constipation. Certain medications and ailments, particularly those involving the kidneys, may prohibit the use of magnesium. The use of magnesium sulfate for constipation should also not exceed once or twice a week even in those users without any ailments or medications, as this product can cause poisoning of the blood if used too often. It is never wise to use a supplement in any way other than as directed by the bottle or a medical professional.