Magnesium citrate increases the volume of water in the intestine, thus inducing bowel movement. This article provides information regarding the use of this chemical agent as a laxative.
Magnesium is a mineral nutrient required for normal functioning of the nerves and muscles. Some derivatives of magnesium are popularly used to promote bowel movement. For example, administering medication that contains magnesium hydroxide helps relieve temporary constipation symptoms. Likewise, magnesium citrate is used as a laxative in clinics and hospitals in order to induce defecation prior to surgery, colonoscopy, or other therapeutic procedures.
Magnesium citrate is formulated from the salts of magnesium and citric acid after combining them in a specific ratio under certain conditions. Chemically, it is a hyperosmotic saline. Once inside the body, it draws water from the cells and tissues by means of osmosis. Consequently, a large volume of water is accumulated in the intestinal portion, which helps induce the urge to defecate. This is how it acts as a potent laxative to empty the bowel and rectum prior to surgical procedures.
In addition to delivering magnesium citrate saline laxative in hospitals, some doctors prescribe it as a short-term medication to treat constipation and other colon-related health conditions. You can also purchase it as an over-the-counter drug for treating constipation. The effects are usually observed within 30 minutes to 3 hours after administration of the medicine. However, if taken in a very low concentration, the time required for inducing bowel movement may be longer.
Other than the laxative effect, the tablets are prescribed as a nutritional supplement. This is because the magnesium content in the compound accounts to about 11 percent, and more importantly, it is absorbed easily in the body. Thus, it also acts as a supplement for combating lack of magnesium. And according to doctors, approximately 20 percent of the compound is absorbed and retained in the body.
As per health experts, people should avoid frequent use. Otherwise, using it for prolonged period can lead to various side effects, which can range from mild to severe. The same risk is applicable for those individuals who take magnesium citrate as a nutritional supplement. Following are some of the side effects observed:
- The most frequently reported side effect is diarrhea. An individual who is allergic to additives and supplements is at a higher risk of manifesting frequent bowel movement after intake.
- It is strictly not recommended for people who have digestive problems like stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. Chances for abnormal bowel conditions are high, which may persist for almost a week.
- The side effect is usually severe among those with kidney problems or heart diseases. This is because the compound is excreted from the body by renal elimination. An individual with a weakened kidney may have difficulties in expelling the compound, thus elevating magnesium and potassium level in his/her blood.
- Another adverse effect is rectal bleeding, which can be life-threatening if not addressed properly in the early stages. Thus, people with hemorrhoids or anal fissures should take magnesium citrate with precaution.
If in any case, you fail to defecate after intake, seek immediate medical attention. In pregnant women, this compound may increase the risk of high water retention in the body. To be on the safer side, pregnant women and those who are on medication should seek medical guidance before using magnesium citrate as a laxative.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.