The milk of magnesia is a medicinal product used to discomforts combat in the digestive tract , such as heartburn and reflux. “Milk of magnesia” is the common name for the aqueous suspension of magnesium hydroxide, a chemical substance whose formula is Mg (OH) 2 .The magnesium hydroxide has a molecular mass of 58.32 g / mol, and acts as a weak base that generates a pH between 9.5 and 10.5. It fulfills the chemical function of slightly neutralizing acids, such as hydrochloric acid, HCl (which is present in the stomach naturally).

Since its formulation as a medicine, milk of magnesia has been used as an antacid agent, a reflux reducer, and to treat conditions that involve high or abnormal acidity in the body.

What is milk of magnesia used for?

Milk of magnesia, in its commercial drug form, is available without a prescription; It is even part of the domestic medicine cabinet, accompanying the basic elements, such as painkillers, alcohol, cotton and ointments for minor injuries. In addition to its antacid effect, it fulfills other relevant functions in everyday life.

Milk of magnesia is used to:

  • Antacid effect
  • Avoid backflow
  • Laxative effects
  • Skin care
  • Calm chafing on the skin of babies

Antacid effect

The commercial milk of magnesia formula includes magnesium hydroxide Mg (OH) 2 as the main active ingredient. Its objective is to neutralize excess heartburn , produced by circumstances such as:

  • Diet with excess acidic foods
  • Stress
  • Poor diet
  • Skipping the meals of the day

In these cases, the stomach is constantly producing hydrochloric acid HCl, used naturally for the digestion of food. When there is nothing to digest, this acid remains active in the stomach and being produced in greater quantities, so much so that there can be dangerous consequences such as:

  • Gastric ulcers (perforations of the stomach lining due to the action of acid)
  • Reflux (return of gastric acid through the esophagus)
  • Heartburn (excessive generation of stomach acid, which can cause discomfort and pain)

To complement the action of magnesium hydroxide Mg (OH) 2 , other chemical species are added, resulting in two types of antacid drugs: strong and weak.

  • Strong antacids: they contain substances such as sodium bicarbonate NaHCO 3 , calcium carbonate CaCO 3 and magnesium oxide MgO. They are able to boost the neutralization of stomach acid, and achieve balance in a short time. However, carbonates leave carbon dioxide CO 2 in the stomach, causing inflammation, stretching the stomach tissue.
  • Weak antacids : also contain magnesium carbonate MgCO 3 and aluminum hydroxide Al (OH) 3 . Sometimes, it is preferable to resort to the reaction speed of this antacid, which is lower than that of strong ones, so as not to develop such a powerful and aggressive chemical reaction mechanism.

Avoid backflow

Reflux is the return of gastric juices through the esophagus . It is an ascent of fluids in this way, which is uncomfortable and unpleasant for the patient. It is usually generated by situations of extreme acidity in the stomach, caused by:

  • Spicy or acidic foods
  • Stressful situations
  • Not eating frequently

Milk of magnesia, when consumed, generates a protective surface that begins to act on the hydrochloric acid HCl in the gastric juice, preventing it from rising again and neutralizing it . The pH of the stomach returns to normal and the milk of magnesia in turn is left without further chemical activity.

Laxative effects

Milk of magnesia serves as a laxative, that is, to relieve constipation or constipation. There are four types of laxative substances:

  • Volume formers
  • Osmotics
  • Stimulants
  • Stool softeners

The magnesium hydroxide Mg (OH) 2 contained in milk of magnesia is an osmotic laxative . As it enters a chemical reaction, it begins to move water into the intestines. This liquid begins to build pressure and carries the stool with it, through the digestive tract.

This type of laxative requires two hours to two days to begin to fulfill its function. It is recommended to use milk of magnesia only in emergencies and occasionally. Its continuous use can cause dependence , and when it is suspended, in these cases, there is a risk of chronic constipation.

Skin care

Milk of magnesia is commonly used in skin care, since it helps with the elimination of excess fat in the epidermis. If applied for a period of more than ten minutes, it dries the skin, as it saponifies the fats. Its use as a cleanser for the face is usually accompanied by moisturizers.

Calm chafing on the skin of babies

Milk of magnesia solves the problem of chafing in babies from the use of disposable diapers. Babies’ skin, exposed to moisture for long periods of time, can develop boils and irritation. Applied in small proportions on the crotch of minors, milk of magnesia helps absorb moisture that cannot be retained by the diaper.

Contraindications of milk of magnesia

Milk of magnesia should be administered under medical supervision or completely avoided in people such as:

  • Patients with kidney failure
  • Elderly patients
  • Patients who are going to have stool or urinary tests
  • Pregnant women (you have to take care not to fall excessively)
  • Lactating women
  • Patients under 12 years of age

Side effects of milk of magnesia

In excessive or prolonged contact with magnesium hydroxide Mg (OH) 2 from milk of magnesia, there may be adverse effects such as:

  • Retortijones
  • Vomiting
  • Stomachache
  • Diarrhea
  • Gypsum flavor
  • Dependence or addiction

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical opinion. Consult a doctor.


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