Magnesium is important for people diagnosed with fibromyalgia because generally they are deficient in it and have additional concerns with the absorption of it. A magnesium deficiency contributes to many of the fibromyalgia symptoms and studies have shown taking magnesium alleviates some muscle pains but it is possible it may have a deeper role in assisting with other symptoms. Either way, it is one of the most fundamental supplements to be taken for the syndrome and studies showing it can help moderate symptoms.

Magnesium for fibromyalgia

A study in 2002 done by George Ramalanjaona for Alternative Medicine Alert concluded:

Based on preliminary data, Mg appears to be effective against tender point pain when used at high doses and in combination with malic acid.Based on currently available studies, Mg is a reasonable addition or an alternative to other known drug therapies in subgroups of FM patients that have low magnesium levels or receive high doses of B1.In addition, based on short-term studies, Mg seems to be effective in relieving well-known symptoms of FM and safe with only minimal and infrequent side effects. Further clinical trials with long-term analyses need to be performed to confirm preliminary findings”

Often people with fibromyalgia are deficient in magnesium

One reason for this may be due to the sleep disruptions common with fibromyalgia which causes a lower amount of growth hormone secretion. People with fibromyalgia do not spend enough time in deep restorative sleep which is when growth hormone secretion occurs. Growth hormone creates IGF-1 which is responsible for tissue repair but also affects intracellular levels of magnesium.

Signs of magnesium deficiency

• Loss of appetite
• Nausea
• Insomnia
• headaches
• Vomiting
• Behavioural changes
• Agitation
• Anxiety
• Restless leg syndrome
• Abnormal heart rhythms
• Low blood pressure
• Muscle cramps
• Muscle spasms
• seizures

How does a deficiency affect fibromyalgia directly?

Low levels of magnesium can cause a variety of symptoms because it is important for many functions in the body. It is needed for bone formation and therefore bones can become soft with a deficiency leading to osteoporosis. Magnesium is an activating mineral for approximately three hundred or more enzymes and therefore it is vital for many metabolic functions. It is necessary for almost all the enzymes, for example, that turn sugar and fat we eat into ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate). Low levels of ATP have been found in people with FM which could play a role in many symptoms of the syndrome. About twenty percent of the body’s ATP is found in the brain and low levels can diminish cognitive abilities which could be the cause of a predominate fibromyalgia symptom called fibro fog.

Magnesium is also needed in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin has been shown to be lower in people with FM and it is a neurotransmitter involved with how we perceive pain.

We also need magnesium for proper muscle functioning. A deficiency will cause muscle tension, spasms, twitches, and restlessness. Because magnesium can inhibit nerve receptors (NMDA or 5-HT3) which have been known to be associated with FM a deficiency may increase neuropathic associated pain. It is because magnesium can regulate nerve functions that a deficiency leads to nerves firing too easily from a minor stimulus. This can lead to such conditions as migraines or Raynaud’s phenomenon which are both comorbid with fibromyalgia as well as sensory over-sensitivity, arrhythmia, multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). Magnesium deficiency has also been linked to increasing levels of substance P, which is a major concern to people with FM as it is responsible for the persistent pain signal sent to the rest of the body.

How to get magnesium

Magnesium can be found in: whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables, cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts, brown rice kidney and lima beans

Oral supplementation is an option, however, there may be concerns with absorption. Generally, with FM there are associated concerns of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other problems that cause difficulties with absorption. Additionally, magnesium oxide and citrate can have a laxative effect if you are having a problem digesting it. It can also take a great deal of time before magnesium levels are raised in the tissue and for there to be a noticeable difference in functions. Certain things such as fructose may interfere with magnesium getting into your system and phosphate will bind with magnesium in the stomach creating an insoluble salt.

You can get magnesium via Magnesium Oil and Epsom salts.

Dead Sea Magnesium oil is a brand I have used. Sometimes if you find it causes a bit of irritation you can just also rub a bit of coconut oil there as well. I typically use magnesium oil for migraines actually (one of many things I do for migraines).

Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt Soaking Solution with Eucalyptus Spearmint Is my favourite Epsom salts. I have made my own before, but when I don’t, I like the scent of this one. This brand has a few different types, but this one is very relaxing for me. And you know, when I make my own I do tend to go with eucalyptus and peppermint actually. Fact is, I tend to have an Epsom salt bath at least every two days. And definitely after exercise.

It is best to take magnesium with food and it is best to take with calcium and Vitamin D. Ensure you have enough vitamin Bs in your diet as Bs are necessary for proper magnesium usage and most people with FM can be low in vitamin B’s due to stress. If you find you are experiencing the laxative effect with a type of magnesium then try another type that you may be able to digest better. The magnesium most recommended for FM is magnesium malate (naturally found in such things as apples). Another option is magnesium in liquid form (I use Quench Essentials Magnesium 4 in liquid form, since, yes, I have digestive issues with magnesium). The recommended dosage is 300-750 mg daily, but due to the difficulties one might have with digestion, it is recommended to start off slow and increase the dosage over time as you find comfortable.

Read other fibromyalgia posts:

Epsom Salt baths

CBT for fibromyalgia: Worth it?

Fibromyalgia: Sleep, quality of life, and vitamin D
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6 thoughts on “Magnesium for Fibromyalgia

  1. Just discovered your site, and want to say how valuable it is. Thank you.

    I’d like to share some experience, if I may — not offering solutions, but just sharing. Please pardon me if somewhere on the blog you already discuss magnesium lotion — I’m still exploring your site. Everyone is different, but sometimes sharing helps.

    I’ve controlled seizures and migraines with oral magnesium citrate for two decades now. My blood magnesium levels have always tested as fine, but what matters for me, apparently is the magnesium that is available to my nervous system, at the synapses, maybe — not what is in my blood. Solgar has had the right dose for me, and their quality is consistent enough and precise enough that I can cut pills in half and even quarters and count on its effect.

    But five years ago, when I was undergoing high-dose chemo and stem cell transplant for a rare lymphoma — a treatment which literally reams out fast-growing cells along the digestive tract — I received the suggestion of using magnesium lotion to bypass my digestive system.

    The lotion was suggested by a friend’s physical therapist, who uses it directly over muscles that are sore or inflamed or tight, because it absorbs well through the skin. When I asked people generally, I also found several people who had had chronic deficiency in their blood, never alleviated by oral supplements or IV infusion. After using the lotion for a couple of months, their levels started to rise and stay risen. Hearing these things made me feel it was worth trying.

    I never got the horrible sores during cancer treatment that would have made swallowing my pills impossible, and I feel lucky that my body still seemed to digest and absorb them okay, but I found that the lotion really helped, too. Five years later, I still use it several times a month. I tried magnesium oil because it was supposed to absorb faster, but that burned my skin. Ancient Minerals Magnesium Lotion (got it on Amazon) was the one I finally settled on, and have stayed with. Sometimes the relief in a targeted area is immediate. Sometimes, it takes weeks to feel a difference.

    For me, it seems particularly effective for leg cramps, tendons that feel inflamed, tense shoulders, and for these weird marble-like hard spots I used to get in the muscles of my neck. When I have a migraine aura, I find that rubbing it both in the back of my neck and on my throat often makes the aura go away without the full-blown migraine. I also find that the lotion works faster in areas where I’ve used it fairly often in the past. Have shared it with several friends with migraines, muscle cramps, and/or menstrual cramps, and it has offered relief to most of them, so I know it isn’t just me.

    Don’t know if this is helpful, or welcome. If it is intrusive, please feel free to delete the comment.

    And please accept my regards and my gratitude for your balanced and honest sharing about the daily realities of chronic pain and balancing multiple interwoven chronic health problems. It helps.


    1. I have recently started using magnesium oil for the same reason, because it bypasses the digestive system. So far it seems to be pretty good.


      1. Best wishes on using it.
        (I think the oil burned my skin because I was going through high dose chemo at the time, and my skin cells were under attack as much as my digestive system.)

        Liked by 1 person

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