Magnesium hydroxide is both a laxative and one of the three major classes of antacids, which also include calcium carbonate and aluminum hydroxide. You can use magnesium hydroxide to treat constipation, upset stomach and heartburn. Pharmaceutical companies commonly market magnesium hydroxide under the name milk of magnesium.
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When used as a laxative, you should only use magnesium hydroxide for short periods of time to treat occasional constipation. Magnesium hydroxide is an osmotic type laxative, which means it draws water into the intestines, inducing bowel movements. Magnesium hydroxide also treats symptoms caused by an increased amount of acid in your stomach, such as heartburn, upset stomach and indigestion. Additionally, it can lower the amount of gastric acid in your body. You should only use magnesium hydroxide for short periods of time because magnesium can accumulate in your kidneys. Therefore, if you have any kidney problems, you should not use magnesium hydroxide.
You can also use magnesium hydroxide to empty your bowels and to treat conditions in which stomach acid enters your esophagus. Additionally, magnesium hydroxide can alleviate symptoms of indigestion and treat incomplete or infrequent bowel movements. On your skin, you can use magnesium hydroxide to treat canker sores and to prevent excess oil buildup that causes pimples to form. Further, magnesium hydroxide can decrease the size of your facial pores and prevent dirt from clogging in your pores.
Magnesium hydroxide can interact with folic acid, iron and potassium. By inhibiting folic acid absorption, magnesium hydroxide can also prevent the synthesis of vitamin B12. You should not use magnesium hydroxide if you take medication that pulls potassium from your body. It is also important to replace potassium after taking magnesium hydroxide as a laxative. You should speak with a medical professional prior to taking magnesium hydroxide to treat any medical condition.
You should not take magnesium hydroxide unless under doctor supervision if you currently take amphetamines, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, blood pressure drugs, blood thinners, diabetes drugs, heart drugs, seizure drugs or ulcer drugs. Additionally, you should not take magnesium hydroxide if you have heart or kidney problems. Common side effects associated with magnesium hydroxide include diarrhea, rectal bleeding, trouble breathing, itching and swelling in your hands and face.
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Magnesium Hydroxide (By Mouth); January 2010
- "Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine"; Dennis Kasper et al.; 2004
- "Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics"; Robert Kliegman et al.; 2007