Purpose of review: To provide an update of recent research on the role of magnesium in the management of asthma.
Recent findings: Further evidence has been published that long-term oral magnesium supplementation does not lead to improved control in adult asthma. In contrast, updated meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials have confirmed the efficacy of both intravenous and inhaled (as an adjuvant to salbutamol nebulizer solution) magnesium therapy in severe asthma. This conclusion is still limited by the paucity of randomized controlled trials, however, with many issues yet to be firmly established, such as the efficacy in different patient subgroups, the dose regimes, and the optimal method of administration. International guidelines currently recommend the use of intravenous magnesium in severe asthma, and there is evidence that this approach is now widely used in emergency departments in North America. This audit also illustrated the emerging unregistered use of nebulized magnesium/salbutamol solution.
Summary: Further investigation of the efficacy and safety of magnesium in severe asthma is now urgently required to determine its role in this clinical situation. The research community must heed the call for more research that is being made by funding agencies dealing with this area.