Categories
Natural Health News and Articles

Magnesium for Menstrual Cramps

Dysmenorrhea, the medical term for painful menstruation, is a common problem experienced by women in their reproductive years. Symptoms of pain can interfere with daily activities so much so that they may also be a factor in absenteeism at school and at work.

The condition of dysmenorrhea may be characterized into two types: primary dysmenorrhea and secondary dysmenorrhea. While primary dysmenorrhea is the presence of cramps and lower abdominal pain that occurs during a female’s menstrual cycle when no other cause for those symptoms exists, secondary dysmenorrhea is the presence of the same symptoms, but is caused by other medical problems such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids. It is thought that for both primary and secondary dysmenorrhea, hormone-like substances released during a woman’s menstrual cycle called prostaglandins play an active role. The information in this article focuses on primary dysmenorrhea and resulting lower abdominal cramps.

Common treatment for primary dysmenorrhea involves nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) or oral contraceptive pills (OCPs), both of which work to reduce myometrial activity (contractions of the uterus). While these treatments have the potential to be effective, the failure rate is still often 20-25%.1 Research into the menstrual cycle shows that nutritional intake and metabolism can have an impact on the cause and treatment of menstrual disorders. That being said, herbal and dietary therapies now rate among the most common complementary medicines to be used by sufferers of dysmenorrhea, and supplementation with magnesium for menstrual cramps is gaining popularity.

To begin, magnesium is a vital mineral that has been shown to reduce key cell compounds in the body’s inflammatory processes. Preliminary research with magnesium supplements has shown some efficacy in reducing dysmenorrhea by decreasing prostaglandin F 2 alpha 2, a hormone-like substance involved in pain and inflammation 3. In general, prostaglandins are chemicals in the body involved in inflammation and pain, and higher levels of these tend to create more menstrual pain.

But magnesium has the potential to reduce menstrual cramps in women who take it. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, to use magnesium as a complementary therapy, take 360 mg daily for three days starting on the day before menstruation begins. 4

Keep in mind that excess magnesium can induce diarrhea and lower blood pressure, so if suffering from digestive problems or heart disease, consult a physician first. Furthermore, magnesium can interact with many medications such as antibiotics like ciprofloxacin (Cipro), levofloxacin (Levaquin), and tetracycline; bone-building drugs such as alendronate (Fosamax), and risedronate (Actonel); diuretics (water pills); and other drugs. 4

As always, consult a healthcare provider before taking any supplements, including magnesium. When used with care, magnesium has the potential of decreasing symptoms of dysmenorrhea and working as a preventative agent.

Written by Nicole Kagan

Reviewed & edited by Dr. Jeffrey C. Lederman, DO, MPH and Julie A. Cerrato, PhD, AP, CYT, CAP

References

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0011414/
  2. Penland J, Johnson P, et al. Dietary calcium and manganese effects on menstrual cycle symptoms. Am J Obstet Gynecol . 1993;168:1417-1424.
  3. http://www.askdrmao.com/questions-and-answers/magnesium-for-dysmenorrhea/
  4. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/menstrual-pain

Categories
Natural Health News and Articles

Helping Your Muscles with Magnesium

For the more than six million people who have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, supplementation with magnesium may help decrease pain and improve muscle strength and endurance. Studies have demonstrated that those diagnosed with Fibromyalgia often have lower levels of magnesium when compared to the rest of the population. Increasing your magnesium intake should be considered as part of your treatment armamentarium.

Magnesium is a mineral found in the cells of your body and is part of the energy mechanism that keeps your muscle cells running smoothly. It can also be found in your bones and is so important for maintaining bone health. Did you know that magnesium is needed for over two hundred chemical reactions in the human body? Without magnesium your intestine does not absorb nutrients as well. Low magnesium levels can also affect the absorption of other important minerals, such as potassium and calcium.

Magnesium is crucial for maintaining muscle strength and endurance. Because it dilates blood vessels, it improves blood flow to the muscles which is important not only for muscle health but also toxin removal. Low magnesium levels also increase total body inflammation; in fibromyalgia, the goal is to lower the total body inflammatory load. Magnesium also helps to relieve pain: it helps to decrease the pain sensitivity associated with fibromyalgia.

How do you know if your magnesium levels are low? Well, the most common way that magnesium levels are measured is by a simple blood test. Be aware that the magnesium level that is measured in the blood may not accurately reflect the levels of magnesium in the cell. That being said, other tests used to measure magnesium are more cumbersome and there are questions concerning their reliability.

On routine blood work, most “normal” reference ranges of magnesium are from 1.6-2.6 mg/dL. Note that there is a significant difference between the reference ranges. The goal of treatment is to get the magnesium levels in the blood in the higher range.

How much magnesium should you take? In general it is recommended that you take at least 600 – 800 mg of magnesium a day. Great dietary sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, seeds (sunflower and sesame for example), and nuts (almonds and Brazil nuts for example). If you are on a typical Western diet that is low in magnesium, you may need to take a magnesium supplement.

What form of magnesium should you take? Be aware that not all magnesium is created the same. You want to pick a formulation that is highly absorbed by the body. Chelated magnesium is a form of magnesium without the heavy metals. Magnesium malate, a combination of magnesium and malic acid is a form of magnesium that may provide more benefit for those with fibromyalgia. In one study, a combination of magnesium and malic acid not only reduced pain and tenderness, but was also reported to improve a person’s functional status.

Be aware that for some people taking magnesium orally, it can cause intestinal upset, including diarrhea. The use of a magnesium oil and/or magnesium gel when topically applied to the arms or legs daily can help normalize your magnesium levels and get you on the road to recovery.

By: Dr. Rich Snyder

References

  • Bagis S, Karabiber M. “Is magnesium citrate treatment effective on pain, clinical parameters and functional status in patients with fibromyalgia?” Rheumatology International. 2013 Jan; 33(1):167-72.
  • Kim YS, Kim KM et al. “Women with fibromyalgia have lower levels of calcium, magnesium, iron and manganese in hair mineral analysis.” Journal of Korean Medical Sciences. 2011 Oct; 26(10):1253-7.
  • Russell LJ, Michalek JE et al. “Treatment of fibromyalgia syndrome with Super Malic: a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled, crossover pilot study.” Journal of Rheumatology 1995 May;22(5):953-8.
  • Sendor OF, Tastaban E et al. “The relationship between serum trace element levels and clinical parameters in patients with fibromyalgia.” Rheumatology International 2008 Sep;28(11):1117-21

 

Holistic Resources for Fibromyalgia


Categories
Image

Our Magnesium Deficiency

Natural Healthy Concepts created this infographic on how many people are deficient in magnesium and the many related health conditions.

Magnesium can help also with the pain associated with menstrual cramps.

Fortunately, there are many seeds and nuts that contain high levels of magnesium that can help raise one’s levels.

The original image can be found here.

Mg-deficiency