Magnesium for the next millennium

South Med J. 1999 Nov;92(11):1040-7. doi: 10.1097/00007611-199911000-00001.


Background: Magnesium is a trace mineral in several hundred chemical reactions in the body. It has therapeutic potential in many medical conditions. In this review, we attempted to clarify the current information on the role of magnesium as a therapeutic agent.

Methods: A MEDLINE search from 1966 through March 1999 was conducted, using PubMed and "Magnesium" and "Therapeutic Usage" as the two initial key headings. Important articles were also identified from the bibliographies of the initial articles.

Results: A total of 51 articles were included in this review. Articles were excluded if they were based on animal study or were in a language other than English.

Conclusion: Magnesium has long been used as an ingredient in laxatives and antacids. It seems clear that intravenous magnesium also is effective for the suppression of ventricular ectopy in the hospital setting and is a first-line agent for torsades de pointes. It is less clear whether it is useful in patients with congestive heart failure or acute myocardial infarction (MI). Although effective for treatment of preeclampsia/eclampsia, its use in the termination of preterm labor has recently been questioned. In asthma and chronic lung disease, intravenous magnesium may be useful when conventional treatment has failed. Finally, magnesium may have a role in the prevention and treatment of vascular headaches.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Cathartics
  • Constipation / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Heart Diseases / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Magnesium / pharmacology
  • Magnesium / therapeutic use*
  • Magnesium Deficiency / drug therapy
  • Magnesium Sulfate / therapeutic use
  • Pre-Eclampsia / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Tocolytic Agents / therapeutic use


  • Cathartics
  • Tocolytic Agents
  • Magnesium Sulfate
  • Magnesium