Some people suffering from obsessive-compulsive thinking can never be sure they locked their doors or turned off the stove, no matter how many times they go back and check. Such behavior is one symptom of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD. The Food and Drug Administration has approved several prescription drugs treatments for OCD. The non-prescription mineral magnesium, however, may also be beneficial in treating the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive thinking and related illnesses.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Overview
OCD is a psychiatric disorder characterized by repetitive behaviors, unwanted thoughts, distress and anxiety. OCD appears to have a strong genetic component. People with OCD may also have family members with OCD-related disorders. OCD patients may have obsessive thoughts about contact with germs, committing blasphemy, having inappropriate sex or committing violent acts. They may think they are forgetful or error prone. They may act out these thoughts by washing their hands or showering again and again throughout the day or by picking at their skin until they bleed. OCD patients may also manifest their obsessive thoughts by hoarding, repeatedly cleaning and rearranging their homes or by checking and rechecking to see if they locked their doors.
The mineral magnesium is essential to good health. Most of the magnesium in the body is found in the bones and cells. A physiological connection may exist between the amount of magnesium in the body and stress and anxiety experienced by adults and children with OCD. Low levels of magnesium may result in personality changes. Magnesium may also play a role in minimizing the release and consequent effects of stress hormones on the body, according to a 1994 study published in the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition." A 2012 study published in "Neuropharmacology," linked magnesium deficiency with an increase in the release of adrenocorticotropic hormone in mice. Increased ACTH release is one way the body responds to stress.
Magnesium and Tourettes Syndrome
OCD is believed to be a family of psychiatric disorders that share many of the same symptoms. According to a 2008 study published in "Brain and Development," 30 percent of children diagnosed with Tourettes Syndrome also have the symptoms of OCD. The symptoms of Tourettes include simple tics such as eye blinking, grimacing, shoulder shrugging, sniffing and grunting. Some individuals punch themselves or utter profanities at inappropriate times.
A 2004 study published in the Brazilian "Journal of Pediatrics," reported that OCD and Tourettes are caused by disorders in the same sections of the brain. In a 2008 study published in the Spanish journal "Clinical Medicine," magnesium and vitamin B-6 were given to children with Tourettes. The researchers found that during treatment the frequency of Tourettes-associated tics decreased. These results are questionable, however, since the none of the children were tested using a placebo.
Magnesium and OCD
At the time of publication no controlled, double-blind studies on the effectiveness of magnesium on OCD and OCD-related disorders have been published. In 2009, the researchers behind the 2004 "Journal of Pediatrics" study announced that they had approval to conduct a more scientifically rigorous and sound study of the effectiveness of magnesium and B-6 in treating Tourettes. It is possible, however, that magnesium can relieve some of the anxiety and stress OCD sufferers may experience. A 2010 "Nutrition Journal" study found that magnesium-containing herbal supplements may be effective in relieving stress, anxiety and depression, but more research is needed.
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Magnesium
- Neuropharmacology: Magnesium Deficiency Induces Anxiety and HPA Axis Dysregulation: Modulation by Therapeutic Drug Treatment
- Brain Development: Tourette Syndrome and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Jornal de Pediatria: The Neurobiological Bases of Obsessive-compulsive Disorder and Tourette Syndrome
- Clinical Medicine: An Open Study Evaluating the Efficacy and Security of Magnesium and Vitamin B(6) as a Treatment of Tourette Syndrome in Children
- Nutrition Journal: Nutritional and Herbal Supplements for Anxiety and Anxiety-related Disorders: Systematic Review