Clinical experience, as well as research in nerve pain conditions such as pancreatic cancer, has shown that magnesium can be an effective treatment for pain. Although it is clear why magnesium can decrease muscle pain (it makes muscles relax), why it would help nerve pain was less clear. A new study on rats to be printed in The Journal of Physiology confirms our clinical experience that magnesium decreases nerve pain — while also pointing to how it works.
A major mechanism of pain is the excessive stimulation of a brain chemical called “NMDA.” The few medications that help decrease and balance this pain-carrying neurotransmitter have the downside of causing significant side effects. Magnesium seems to settle down NMDA without the toxicity. The upside of magnesium is that is very inexpensive (pennies a dose). The downside is that it hasn’t yet made it through the FDA approval process.
The good news is that you don't have to wait for the FDA. Magnesium can be found in supplement form at most health food stores. And magnesium oxide, though not as well absorbed, can also be found for about a nickel per 500 mg tablet.
For an especially powerful effect, the magnesium can be used intravenously, and is an important tool used by most holistic physicians (including those at the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers). Many holistic physicians use IV magnesium to eliminate an acute migraine headache. It has even been shown to ease the incredibly severe nerve pain that can sometimes be seen in pancreatic cancer. It is also very helpful for settling down fibromyalgia pain, which has a muscle and nerve component.
The authors of the study suggest that magnesium deficiency can be a major amplifier of pain. Because of food processing, most people are magnesium deficient. If you have pain, taking magnesium each day can start to decrease these deficiencies as well as the pain, after just several weeks — while also leaving you feeling more energetic. (If you have kidney problems, do not use without your physician's OK.)
Love and blessings,
Jacob Teitelbaum, MD