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Milk of Magnesia Ingredients

Milk of Magnesia Ingredients

Looking for information on the active ingredients in milk of magnesia? This liquid laxative and antacid have been the most common medicine found in mostly all medicine cabinets at home. This article will help you learn more about the milk of magnesia ingredients.
Batul Nafisa Baxamusa
Last Updated: May 3, 2018
Milk of magnesia is generally sold in liquid form and is an inorganic compound that looks similar to milk, hence the name. The generic name for milk of magnesia is magnesium hydroxide and the chemical formula is written as Mg(OH)2. Magnesium hydroxide suspended in water is known as milk of magnesia and it is sold under the name, brucite.

History of Milk of Magnesia
Milk of magnesia is a common laxative and antacid medication that has been used since generations. It is said that in 1829, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the Marquis of Anglesey, was treated by the fluid magnesia that was prepared by Sir James Murray. The treatment was very successful and he was appointed as the resident physician to Anglesey and two other subsequent Lords Lieutenants. He, thus, received his knighthood for his great contribution. Two years after his death, Sir James Murray received a patent for his fluid magnesia product.

In 1880, Charles Henry Phillips, sold a white-colored aqueous, mildly alkaline suspension of magnesium hydroxide that was formulated at about 8% w/v. He sold this liquid under a brand name Philips' Milk of Magnesia, thus giving birth to the most common name in household medicine.

What is Milk of Magnesia?
Magnesium is a naturally found mineral that is important for the muscles and nerves in the body. When magnesium is taken in the form of magnesium hydroxide, it helps in reducing stomach acid and increases the water content in the intestines that helps inducing defecation. It is one of the most common laxatives that helps to relieve occasional constipation. The milk of magnesia ingredients are also useful as an antacid that helps relieving indigestion, heartburn and even sour stomach.

Ingredients of Milk of Magnesia
This is an alkaline suspension, that can undergo a neutralizing reaction when it comes in contact with anything acidic. It is prepared by precipitation of magnesium salts and sodium, potassium or ammonium hydroxide by metathesis reaction as follows:

Mg 2+ (aqueous) + 2OH - (aqueous) -----> Mg(OH)2 (suspension)

This neutralizing property makes the milk of magnesia ingredients excellent for diluting excessive stomach acid, when taken internally. When the parietal cells of stomach secretes too much of hydrochloric acid (HCl), it causes indigestion, heartburn and stomach ulcers.

The main active ingredient is thus Mg(OH)2, that is, magnesium hydroxide. The other inactive ingredients are purified water and sodium hypochlorite. The active ingredients of milk of magnesia is about 1200 mg. The other related compounds that are parts of milk of magnesia ingredients are anions, like magnesium oxide and beryllium hydroxide. The cations as ingredients are calcium hydroxide, strontium hydroxide and barium hydroxide.

Uses of Milk of Magnesia
When milk of magnesia is in the form of antacid, it is dosed from 500 mg to 1.5 mg. Thus, milk of magnesia can readily enter the stomach and the hydroxide ions present combines with the HCl and reduces the over-activity occurring in the stomach.

Milk of magnesia as laxative helps stimulate the motility in the intestines and flushes out the waste. The dose of 2-5 g makes it a safe laxative. In case of laxatives, the hydroxide ions do not play a role and magnesium is the active milk of magnesia ingredient that helps ions draw water from the surrounding body tissues in the intestine, through a process called osmosis. The high amount of water in the intestinal tract softens and increases the fecal volume, thus stimulating the nerves in the intestine. The peptide hormone cholecystokinin is released due to the action of magnesium ions thus leading to accumulation of water and electrolytes in the intestine. This helps triggering the intestinal motility.

Magnesium hydroxide is used as an antiperspirant underarm deodorant. Many people apply milk of magnesia topically on canker sores as an effective home remedy. An age-old folk remedy, advises massaging milk of magnesia into the scalp for a few minutes before a bath. This is said to be very helpful in treatment of seborrhea and dandruff.

Side Effects of Milk of Magnesia
The side effects include weakness, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. If you are a patient of chronic kidney disease, avoid taking milk of magnesia. You should consult your doctor before taking the medicine as a laxative or antacid. You should use milk of magnesia for more than one week only under the guidance of a medical practitioner. In case you observe rectal bleeding or no bowel movement in spite of taking laxative, consult your doctor. If you are pregnant or planning pregnancy, avoid taking milk of magnesia, as it is not known if magnesium hydroxide is harmful to the unborn baby. Breastfeeding mothers should also not take magnesium hydroxide without speaking to the doctor.

It is sold over-the-counter as a liquid or chewable tablets and available in many flavors in the market. It is recommended to take milk of magnesia with a glass of water or juice to ease absorption. This is all about the milk of magnesia ingredients in short. I hope it proves useful to you and helps answers your question regarding the active milk of magnesia ingredient as magnesium hydroxide.