Medical professionals advise against mixing alcohol and medications, for good reason. Ingesting magnesium citrate and alcohol, for instance, is never a good idea. This combo can wreak havoc on your stomach, causing diarrhea, tummy pain, nausea and bloating.
Your favorite cocktail can interact with hundreds of different drugs. Antidepressants, blood pressure medications, statins, painkillers and birth control pills are just a few examples. Alcohol can either amplify the drug's effects or interfere with its metabolism, leading to adverse reactions.
Alcohol acts as a diuretic, causing you to pee more often. This means it can reduce the efficacy of Miralax, magnesium citrate and other osmotic laxatives that work by pulling water into the digestive tract.
Alcohol and Medications Don't Mix
An occasional glass of wine or a cold beer is pretty much harmless — unless you're under medical treatment. Alcoholic beverages can interact with medications even when consumed in small amounts.
Over 25,000 Americans who mixed alcohol and drugs ended up at the ER each year between 2005 and 2011, according to a report published in Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research in August 2016. About 59 percent of cases were due to interactions between booze and central nervous system agents. As the scientists note, alcohol affects the body's ability to absorb, metabolize and excrete medications.
Whether you take antidepressants, antibiotics, blood thinners or sleep aids, quit drinking while under treatment. Both over-the-counter and prescription drugs may cause adverse reactions when combined with alcohol, warns the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Even moderate drinking can amplify their effects and increase the risk of overdose. Potential adverse reactions include:
- Memory problems
- Impaired motor control
- Liver damage
- Internal bleeding
- Cardiovascular events
- High blood pressure
- Dangerously low blood sugar levels
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Digestive discomfort
- Constipation or diarrhea
Mixing alcohol and antidepressants, for instance, may worsen your symptoms and affect motor control. You may also feel dizzy and develop cardiovascular problems in the long run.
Soma, Flexeril and other medications are commonly prescribed for muscle pain. When combined with alcohol, they may put you at risk for seizures and cause difficulty breathing, among other symptoms.
Muscle aches and minor injuries are often treated with aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen. These drugs don't even require a prescription, as they're unlikely to cause serious side effects when used in small doses and for a short time. Mixing them with alcohol increases the risk of adverse reactions, however. This combo can damage your liver, affect digestion and cause stomach ulcers.
Beware that alcohol and medications can interact even when ingested at different times of the day. For example, if you take antibiotics early in the morning, it doesn't mean it's safe to drink a glass of wine before bedtime. Certain antibiotics, such as linezolid and metronidazole, may cause nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, arrhythmia and digestive distress when combined with alcohol.
What Is Magnesium Citrate?
Have you ever had a colonoscopy or major surgery? Then you know that these procedures require going on a liquid diet and emptying your bowel the day ahead. Your doctor might have prescribed magnesium citrate, a potent laxative that comes in powder form and needs to be dissolved in water. It's also available in tablet form and can be used for treating occasional constipation.
Canada's DrugBank database reports that magnesium citrate works by pulling water into the digestive tract, which in turn, helps produce a bowel movement within 30 minutes to six hours, reports the U.S. National Library of Medicine. This medication may also stimulate peristalsis, or the smooth muscle contractions that help move food through the intestines.
Most people take magnesium citrate occasionally. This saline laxative isn't recommended for long-term use, although it's generally considered safe for healthy adults. However, there is a risk of mild side effects, such as diarrhea, abdominal pain or more frequent stools, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. If you notice blood in the stool or don't have a bowel movement after taking the drug, reach out to your doctor.
This medication may not be safe for pregnant women and individuals with kidney disease, as well as those on low-potassium or low-magnesium diets. Due to its strong laxative effect, it may cause dehydration and affect your electrolyte balance. Also, it's recommended not to take other drugs two hours before or after using magnesium citrate as this may affect their absorption into your body, warns the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Beware of potential drug interactions. This laxative may increase or reduce the efficacy of medications containing Alcuronium, Acetazolamide, Alendronic acid and other compounds, according to DrugBank. Mixing magnesium citrate and alcohol may cause adverse reactions, too. The same goes for alcohol and Miralax, a common medication prescribed for constipation relief.
Magnesium Citrate and Alcohol
This osmotic laxative works best when ingested with plenty of water. Think about its mechanism of action: Magnesium citrate retains water in the digestive system, softening the stool and increasing bowel movement frequency. Alcohol, on the other hand, has diuretic effects and may cause dehydration. As a result, it may decrease the efficacy of magnesium citrate.
To put it simply, alcoholic beverages cause you to pee more. That's why it's recommended to drink one glass of water for every glass of alcohol consumed.
If you take magnesium citrate and drink alcohol, you'll eliminate the extra water that's supposed to soften your stool and make it easier to pass. This may worsen constipation and digestive discomfort.
Mixing Miralax and alcohol is just as bad. This laxative has the active ingredient polyethylene glycol 3350 and works similarly to magnesium citrate. It retains water in your digestive tract, leading to more frequent bowel movements. Potential side effects include gas, bloating, stomach pain and nausea, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. In rare cases, Miralax may cause hives and diarrhea.
Compared to magnesium citrate, this drug is gentler on the digestive system and may be used daily for up to two weeks. It's typically recommended for occasional constipation as well as before a colonoscopy. If you mix it with alcohol, it won't work the way it should.
Both Miralax and magnesium citrate are designed for short-term use. If you enjoy drinking a glass of wine after work or with dinner, kick this habit for a few days.
Swap your favorite beer for non-alcoholic beer, replace wine with homemade ice tea and experiment with non-alcoholic cocktail recipes. Better yet, drink a freshly squeezed juice or a smoothie to replenish your electrolyte stores and stay hydrated.
- Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research: "Emergency Department Visits for Adverse Drug Reactions Involving Alcohol: United States, 2005 to 2011"
- NIAAA: "Mixing Alcohol With Medicines"
- DrugBank: "Magnesium Citrate"
- Colorade State University: "Physiology of Peristalsis"
- MedlinePlus: "Magnesium Citrate"
- International Alliance for Responsible Drinking: "How You Drink Matters!"
- MedlinePlus: "Polyethylene Glycol 3350"
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: "How to Prepare for Your Colonoscopy Using MiraLAX"
- NHS: "Can I Drink Alcohol While Taking Antibiotics?"