Milk of magnesia is a saline type of laxative which is mainly used for temporary relief from constipation and indigestion. Here’s all about its various benefits.
Milk of magnesia (magnesium hydroxide) is an inorganic compound having chemical formula Mg(OH)2. Magnesium hydroxide, when suspended in water, has a milk-like appearance, and so it is called milk of magnesia. Considered to be one of the best laxative, when consumed, it neutralizes excess of stomach acid by pulling salt or saline solution from the blood into the intestines. This increases the water content which provides a flushing or laxative action within the intestines. Magnesium hydroxide is the most prominent component of antacids and laxatives, hence, interferes with the absorption of folic acid and iron in the body.
As an antacid, it functions by the process of neutralization, where the hydroxide ions from Mg(OH)2 combine with acidic H+ ions produced in the form of hydrochloric acid by parietal cells in the stomach, to form water. As a laxative, milk of magnesia functions by absorbing Mg2+ inadequately from the intestinal tract, so that it extracts water from the surrounding tissues by osmosis. This increases the water content that softens the feces and improves its volume in the intestine, which automatically stimulates intestine mobility.
Along with this, Mg2+ ions release CCK (cholecystokinin, a peptide hormone of the gastrointestinal system responsible for stimulating the digestion of fat and protein), which causes intraluminal accumulation of water, electrolytes, and intestinal motility.
- It is available in the form of chewable tablets, capsules, or as liquids having a variety of added flavors. It is not only used to relieve constipation and other gastro-intestinal problems, but also helps in alleviating indigestion and heartburn.
- It is used as a non-antiperspirant armpit deodorant.
- It also works against canker sores (aphthous ulcer) when utilized topically.
- If you have symptoms of seborrhea and dandruff, it works as a folk remedy when applied and massaged a few minutes before washing the hair.
- It is also beneficial in treating acne or oily skin when applied topically. All you have to do is to apply it on the face, allow it to dry, and then rinse it. In fact, its oil-blotting properties makes it the best primer before applying makeup. Therefore, all those who suffer slight increase in oil production during the summer months should keep milk of magnesia at hand for those seasonal outbreaks and other skincare issues.
- It is also considered to be useful for treating seborrheic dermatitis, a drying and flaking of the skin similar to dandruff, but often occurs on the face.
- For industrial applications, powdered magnesium hydroxide, being a non-hazardous alkali, neutralizes acidic waste waters and plays an important role in the Biorock method of building artificial reefs.
Milk of magnesia is sold over-the-counter all across the world, and has been considered to be the best option to other laxatives like castor oil. In our body, magnesium is usually excreted by the kidneys, and so only a small quantity of the magnesium from milk of magnesia is absorbed by the intestines. Therefore, daily consumption of milk of magnesia by someone suffering from renal failure or kidney disorder is not recommended, as over consumption may cause wearing of the kidney, and will lead to toxic levels of magnesium in the blood. As taken with any other medications, some people have experienced negative reactions with it. In fact, if you have stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea or vomiting, using milk of magnesia as a laxative should only be under a doctor’s supervision.