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News - Magnesium and asthmatic respiratory health

By Holly Taylor BSc(Hons) DipCNM MBANT

Asthma is a condition that affects the airways. When a person with asthma comes into contact with something that irritates their airways, the muscles in the walls of the airways tighten and the lining becomes inflamed and starts to swell. This narrows the airways and makes it more difficult to breathe. Now, a new study published in the Journal of Asthma has found that magnesium supplements may help to reduce this constriction of the airways.

Researchers in America recruited 55 mild-to-moderate asthmatics, aged between 21 and 55, to participate in a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial.

The participants were randomly assigned to receive either a daily dose of 340 milligrams of magnesium, or a placebo, for 6 months. During the study, the scientists measured the participants’ lung capacity, tested how much their airways constricted in response to a chemical called methacholine and charted the participants’ quality of life using a questionnaire.

At the end of the study, lung function had improved by six per cent in the magnesium group (but not in the placebo group) and 20% more methacholine was needed in the magnesium group to produce airway constriction to the same degree as seen in the placebo group. Furthermore, participants taking the magnesium supplements reported improvements in quality of life, whereas those taking the placebo did not.

Dr Kazaks and her co-workers noted that magnesium may influence the properties of cell membranes, thereby improving the ability of the lungs to expand. They also suggested it may offer anti-inflammatory properties, which could improve asthma control.  

Article References

A.G. Kazaks et al. (2010) “Effect of oral magnesium supplementation on measures of airway resistance and subjective assessment of asthma control and quality of life in men and women with mild to moderate asthma: a randomized placebo controlled trial” Journal of Asthma. Volume 47, Issue 1, pp. 83-92

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