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Magnesium for Asthma Relief: Does It Work?

Medically Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on September 03, 2020

Asthma is a lifelong condition with no cure, but there are many ways to manage your symptoms. Short-acting medications help you breathe when you’re having an attack. Long-term drugs work to keep attacks from happening.

Researchers are looking into magnesium as another treatment. It’s a mineral you get from certain foods or supplements. Experts aren’t sure what role it plays with asthma, but they do know it helps with inflammation. Here’s what we found.

Magnesium Sulfate

One study showed low levels of magnesium may be linked to:

Magnesium may help stop an asthma attack by:

  • Relaxing and opening your airways
  • Calming inflammation in your airways
  • Blocking chemicals that cause muscle spasms
  • Raising your body’s nitric oxide levels, which helps lower inflammation

The doctor may give you magnesium sulfate through an IV if you have to go to the emergency room because of an asthma attack. It’s typically used when bronchodilators and corticosteroids don’t work.

Magnesium sulfate by IV may come with side effects, including:

Supplements

More research is needed to know if eating foods high in magnesium or taking supplements can ward off asthma attacks. Small studies have shown that a daily oral magnesium supplement can help with the speed you exhale, or breathe out. That’s your peak expiratory flow rate. It can also help with the amount of air you breathe out. That’s forced expiratory volume.

How to Get More Magnesium

Even if it’s too early for doctors to recommend routine magnesium as an asthma treatment, it’s still an important part of a healthy diet. Magnesium lowers your risk of heart disease, boosts bone health, and may help ease migraines.

To get more magnesium in your diet, reach for:

  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Fortified breakfast cereals and other fortified foods
  • Milk and milk products
  • Yogurt

You can also take magnesium supplements, but talk to your doctor before you start. Too much magnesium can cause:

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: “Asthma treatment.”

npj Primary Care Respiratory Medicine: “The role of oral magnesium supplements for the management of stable bronchial asthma: a systematic review and meta-analysis.”
Asia Pacific Allergy: “Magnesium sulfate for acute asthma in adults: a systematic literature review.”

American Family Physician: “Intravenous Magnesium Sulfate for Acute Asthma Exacerbations.”

FDA: “Magnesium Sulfate In Water For Injection.”

Lancet: “Dietary magnesium, lung function, wheezing, and airway hyperreactivity in a random adult population sample.”

Journal of Asthma: “Effect of oral magnesium supplementation on measures of airway resistance and subjective assessment of asthma control and quality of life in men and women with mild to moderate asthma: a randomized placebo controlled trial.”

National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: “Magnesium.”

Mayo Clinic: “I've heard that magnesium supplements have health benefits. Should I take one?”

 

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