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Volume 38, No. 2

Magnesium and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome, much in the news lately, is not a new condition to NOHA* Professional Advisory Board member Theron G. Randolph, MD, who has written on fatigue syndrome since the 1940s. In a brief comment on Dr. Randolph’s work on this condition, Nicholas A. Ashford, PhD, JD, and Claudia Miller, MD, say, "Fatigue is reportedly one of the most common manifestations of food and chemical sensitivity and resolves with avoidance of incriminated foods and chemicals. Drowsiness following a meal is said to be a common sign of food sensitivity."1

At the Centre for the Study of Complementary Medicine in Southampton, England, injections of magnesium sulfate were given in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 32 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Fifteen patients, randomly chosen, received magnesium sulfate intramuscularly once a week for six weeks while the remaining 17 received injected water.2 Energy levels, pain levels, and emotional reactions were significantly better in the treated patients. In the treated group, 12 people out of the 15 claimed to have benefited from treatment as against 3 people in the placebo group.

Two factors motivated the researchers to investigate a magnesium treatment. First, they had heard of some successes with this treatment, and second, magnesium deficiency symptoms have many similarities to chronic fatigue syndrome. The former include "anorexia, nausea, learning disability, personality change, weakness, tiredness, and myalgia."

The researchers started with a pilot study to test for the magnesium levels in the red blood cells of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome as against normals. They particularly chose red blood cell levels because they have found that whole blood and particularly plasma blood levels do not give a reliable indication of a patient’s magnesium status. (Interestingly, William J. Rea, MD, of Dallas, Texas, feels that no blood test is adequate and uses intravenous magnesium challenge test for his patients.3) However, using promptly tested blood, they did find that the red blood cell differences were small but statistically significant.

They concluded that injections of magnesium sulfate may be helpful in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.


1Ashford, Nicholas A., and Claudia S. Miller, Chemical Exposures: Low Levels and High Stakes, Von Norstrand Reinhold, New York, 1991, p. 173.

2Cox, I.M., M.J. Campbell, and D. Dowson, "Red blood cell magnesium and chronic fatigue syndrome," The Lancet, 337:757-60, March 30, 1991.

3Ashford and Miller, p. 138.

Article from NOHA NEWS, Summer 1991

*The American Nutrition Association was formerly known as the Nutrition for Optimal Health Association [NOHA].

For informational purposes only - not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, nor an endorsement by the American Nutrition Association®. Use permitted for non-profit and non-commercial uses or by healthcare professionals in their practice, with attribution to www.AmericanNutritionAssociation.org. Other use only with written ANA℠ permission. Views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the ANA℠. Works by a listed author subject to copyrights as marked. © 2010 ANA℠