How Does Magnesium Help Pain?

A review recently published in the journal Nutrients discusses the role and effects of magnesium in pain relief.

Magnesium is one of the most important minerals for the body.

It plays a part in numerous processes, including regulating the nervous system and muscle function, helping to create proteins from amino acids, helping to create and repair DNA, and many more.

Magnesium is also known to help with pain relief.

Its first use in medicine was in the 17th century when Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate compound) was used for the treatment of abdominal pain and muscle strains.

This property of magnesium has been more intensely studied in the last few decades, and there is evidence that it could be used to treat conditions that cause acute and chronic pain.

What’s Important

The reason why magnesium can provide pain relief is because it inhibits the expression of the NMDA receptors.

The NMDA (N-Methyl-D-aspartate) receptors are channels in the central nervous system that respond to the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate.

The activation of the NMDA receptors is associated with a heightened sensitivity to pain.

Therefore, by blocking the action of NMDA receptors through a chain of reactions, magnesium helps to block the detection of pain.

Some Details

The review states that studies indicated that magnesium was successful in alleviating the pain associated with chronic or acute conditions, such as:

  1. Neuropathic pain is caused by disease or damage of the somatosensory nervous system. Results from pre-clinical and clinical studies suggest that magnesium could be a good alternative treatment for pain relief. For example, in one study, low back pain was notably improved. [1]
  2. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is nerve damage brought on by chronically high blood sugar and it’s the most common type of diabetic neuropathy. In some animal studies, the administration of magnesium exhibited therapeutic and preventive effects against this type of neuropathy by managing the symptoms associated with pain. [2]
  3. Fibromyalgia is a common chronic condition that causes widespread musculoskeletal pain together with fatigue, mood imbalances, and memory and sleep issues. It’s believed that fibromyalgia affects the way the brain processes pain signals, therefore it amplifies the sensations. According to the review, several studies have shown that fibromyalgia patients had lower levels of magnesium, and it was suggested that supplementation with magnesium helps reduce the symptoms. [3] [4]
  4. Headache is the pain that arises from any part of the head or neck region. Tension headaches and migraines, in particular, are usually the most common types of headaches. In a number of human studies, magnesium intake has proved to help with the symptoms and with pain management. [5] [6] [7]

In Conclusion

Magnesium is an essential mineral that’s necessary for the body, and magnesium deficiencies could cause some serious side effects.

This review suggests that magnesium could be very helpful in managing pain caused by different conditions. Of course, as with every discovery, firmer evidence is needed.


Resource: Shin, H.-J.; Na, H.-S.; Do, S.-H. Magnesium and Pain. Nutrients 2020, 12, 2184. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12082184 

References:
1.https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/anae.12107 
2.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20837644/
3.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2095496415601959?via%3Dihub 
4.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22271372/ 
5.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8495462/
6.https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1046/j.1468-2982.1996.1604257.x
7.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11918431/
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