Magnesium citrate is one of the popular saline (osmotic) laxatives that you can buy over the counter. This means it does not require a doctor’s prescription. The active element in this medication is magnesium, which binds with citric acid. This combination is very effective in treating constipation. So, if you have constipation, you can get magnesium citrate from any drug store to treat the condition. However, you will agree that due to the discomfort that comes with constipation, people who have it are always looking for a quick solution. So then, how long does it take magnesium citrate to work? How soon should you expect bowel movement after you take magnesium citrate?
Aside from occasional constipation, you could also use magnesium citrate to treat acid indigestion. Doctors may sometimes prescribe a large dose of magnesium citrate to clear out stool from the bowels before a laboratory test (e.g. a colonoscopy) or surgical procedure that involves the GI system. But what if the procedure is an emergency? Can you trust magnesium citrate to deliver fast results? How long will it take for the laxative effects of magnesium citrate to kick in? These are the questions that we will answer for you in this article.
How Long Does It Take Magnesium Citrate To Work?
The common use of magnesium citrate is for treating constipation. But the first question is, does it really work? Yes, it does.
Constipation refers to a situation where you pass stool infrequently or you are passing hard stools. There is virtually no adult that has not experienced constipation at one time or the other in their life. It is even very common in children. And adults have it occasionally too.
For some people, however, constipation happens quite frequently and may become a chronic problem. This leads to lots of discomforts and may cause complications such as anal fissures or hemorrhoids in some cases. These complications are usually due to straining.
There are lots of products you can get over the counter to relieve constipation. One of them is magnesium citrate. And indeed, it is a very potent solution. As an osmotic laxative, what magnesium citrate does is to pull lots of water into your intestines.
This process of osmosis would make the stool softer or sometimes, even watery. That way, it becomes easier for you to pass the stool.
While you can buy magnesium citrate without a prescription, it is better not to use it except when it is prescribed by a doctor. It is safer for you to use it under the direction and supervision of a licensed physician.
When you use magnesium citrate, its osmotic effects begin immediately. It starts pulling water into your guts. But then, it would take about 30 mins to 3 hours for its laxative-effects to begin. You should expect to have bowel movements after about 30 mins 3 hours of usage.
That shows you how fast magnesium citrate can give relief. This measure of fast result can tempt those who have chronic constipation to wat to use magnesium citrate all the time to trigger bowel movements. However, this is not a safe practice.
It is safer to use magnesium citrate infrequently. Long-term use can lead to some other health issues. More so, it has some adverse effects that you should beware of before you use it, even with infrequent usage.
Some people report having some adverse effects from using magnesium citrate. These adverse effects include:
- Abdominal discomfort
More often than not, these adverse effects are mild. They would resolve after a while. However, if you experience severe symptoms, you should get immediate medical assistance.
Also, if there is no bowel movement after three hours of taking magnesium citrate, you should contact your doctor. Such situations require expert care.
These side effects are still milder compared with some more serious ones, which are quite uncommon. They may be uncommon but bear in mind that they can still happen. Severe side effects of using magnesium citrate include:
- Bloody stools
- Mood changes
- Rectal bleeding
- Severe diarrhea
- Muscle weakness
- Irregular heartbeat
- Severe stomach pain
If you experience any of these severe effects, you should immediately call your doctor. You may be dealing with a medical emergency.
It is also possible to have allergic reactions with the use of magnesium citrate, but this is quite unlikely. But to stay safe, discuss any current medication you are taking with your doctor. Magnesium citrate may interact with certain drugs to cause adverse effects.
Magnesium citrate can also decrease the efficiency of certain medications. So, you should not take the magnesium citrate with such medications. Examples are as follows:
- Sodium-polystyrene sulfonate
- Antibiotics such as tetracycline, Vibramycin (doxycycline), Minocin (minocycline), Cipro (ciprofloxacin), and Levaquin (levofloxacin).
If you must take the two, wait until 2-3 hours after you have used these medications before you take magnesium citrate. That way, you can prevent the adverse effect. However, you should still check with your doctor to be very sure.
Overuse of magnesium citrate can cause excessive fluid loss. This can subsequently cause electrolyte imbalances. This is very dangerous for people who have existing kidney disease.
Aside from those who have kidney disease, people with the following conditions should also avoid using magnesium citrate:
- Bowel obstruction
- Hypocalcemia (low calcium)
- Hyponatremia (low sodium)
- Myasthenia gravis
- Neuromuscular disease
Magnesium citrate may also not be safe for pregnant women and nursing mothers. If you are pregnant or you are breastfeeding an infant, you should speak with your doctor before taking magnesium citrate.
What Can You Do If You Can’t Take Magnesium Citrate?
It is clear that while magnesium citrate is very effective for treating constipation, not everyone can use it. For those who may not be able to take magnesium citrate, an alternative is to try taking soluble fiber.
Soluble fiber would help to add bulk to your stool so that it can get through your intestines. There are varieties of over-the-counter fiber supplements to choose from.
How long does it take magnesium citrate to work? It would take somewhere between 30 minutes and 3 hours. If you see no results after 3 hours, you should immediately call your doctor.