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Does Magnesium Help Dissolve Gallstones?

author image M. Gideon Hoyle
M. Gideon Hoyle is a writer living outside of Houston. Previously, he produced brochures and a wide variety of other materials for a nonprofit educational foundation. He now specializes in topics related to health, exercise and nutrition, publishing for various websites.
Does Magnesium Help Dissolve Gallstones?
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Gallstones are accumulations of solidified material that form inside or near your gallbladder, an organ your body uses to store digestive juices made in the liver. Magnesium is a common dietary and supplemental mineral that you need to support some of your most basic bodily functions. Consumption of dietary magnesium or magnesium supplements will not help dissolve gallstones.

The Basics

The digestive juice stored in your gallbladder, called bile, is made from a mixture of materials, including cholesterol, substances called bile salts, proteins, fats and a waste product from old red blood cells, called bilirubin. The purpose of bile is the digestion of the fats in your diet. Most gallstones form from solidified accumulations of cholesterol, while about 20 percent form from solidified accumulations of bilirubin. You can develop these stones if your bile is too rich in bilirubin, cholesterol or bile salts.

Magnesium Facts and Uses

The magnesium in your diet helps your body initiate the activity of specialized proteins, called enzymes, which you need to trigger an assortment of essential chemical reactions inside and outside your cells. The mineral also helps form your teeth and bones, and magnesium in your bloodstream helps maintain proper levels of other critically important minerals, including zinc, calcium, potassium and copper. Potential supplemental uses of magnesium include prevention or treatment of the pregnancy disorders called eclampsia and preeclampsia, osteoporosis prevention, stabilization of heartbeat irregularities, high blood pressure reduction and treatment of migraine headaches, as well as relief of insomnia related to the presence of a disorder called restless leg syndrome.

Dissolution Medications and Techniques

Gallstone dissolution is attempted in one of two ways. In a technique called oral dissolution, the patient receives an oral medication made from bile salts, which can gradually dissolve gallstones over a period of time that can last two years or longer. Medications used for this purpose include chenodil, also called chenodeoxycholic acid, and ursodil, also called ursodeoxycholic acid. The second method of gallstone dissolution, called contact dissolution, involves the direct injection of a medication, called methyl tert-butyl ether, into the gallbladder. While this approach can produce rapid gallstone dissolution, it is also experimental, difficult and potentially dangerous. Therefore, doctors rarely use it.


The most common treatment for gallstones that trigger painful gallbladder attacks is surgical removal of the gallbladder, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. People with painless, asymptomatic gallstones don’t usually need any kind of treatment.Typically, people only undergo gallstone dissolution if they have special situations that make surgery dangerous or impossible. Even then, dissolution is only attempted in people who have cholesterol-based gallstones. If you don’t get your gallbladder surgically removed, gallstones will typically reappear within a period of five years. Consult your doctor for more information on the techniques used to dissolve gallstones.

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