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 study on rats 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 it is very inexpensive (pennies a dose). The downside is it hasn’t yet made it through the FDA approval process.

The good news is you don’t have to wait for the FDA. For those who get diarrhea from magnesium, try a sustained-release magnesium, very effective without causing the diarrhea side effect. In addition, magnesium oxide, though not as well absorbed, can be found for about a nickel per 500 mg tablet in most health food stores.

For an especially powerful effect, the magnesium can be used intravenously, and is an important tool used by most holistic physicians. Intravenous (IV) magnesium is the single most effective treatment to eliminate an acute migraine headache and 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, a dose of 250 to 500 mg of magnesium a day can start to decrease these deficiencies as well as the pain, after just several weeks—while also leaving you feeling more energetic and decreasing your risk of heart disease! (If you have kidney problems, do not use without your physician’s okay.)

How to get solid pain relief, almost always, using a mix of natural and prescription therapies.