Magnesium has the reputation of being “nature’s muscle relaxer”; possibly that role applies to the bronchioles as well. Intravenous magnesium has been used in emergency rooms for patients having acute asthma attacks. Research appearing in Jornal de Pediatria (2017 Nov – Dec; 93 Suppl 1:19-25) looked at  28 patients were randomly chosen to receive either three intermittent doses of nebulized or intravenous magnesium sulfate. The Modified Wood’s Clinical Asthma Score was determined prior to, and at 20, 40, 60, 120, 180 and 240 minutes after treatment administration. The length of hospital stay was also recorded. The researchers concluded, ” In this small sample size we demonstrated that nebulized  magnesium sulfate and intravenous magnesium sulfate are both clinically beneficial and safe for Thai children suffering from severe asthma exacerbation.”

Another study, appearing in Drug, Design, Development and Therapy (2016 Jun 9;10:1927-33) compared the efficacy of nebulized magensium , salbutamol and a combination of the two in patients with acute asthma in 30 subjects. The subjects were randomly divided into three groups and given either magnesium sulfate, salbutamol or a combination of the two. The patients were monitored every 20 minutes for peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR), respiratory rate (RR), heart rate (HR), blood pressure, pulsus paradoxus, oxygen saturation, clinical examination, and Fischl index.

A study  published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine (2016 May;34(5):883-6) looked at the effectiveness of inhaled magnesium sulfate on the treatment response in emergency room patients with moderate to severe asthma attacks. The 25 subjects in the study group were treated with the standard, plus 3 ml of 260 mmol/L solution of magnesium sulfate every 20 to 60 minutes. The 25 subjects in the control group were treated with nebulized saline as a placebo in addition to standard protocol. The subjects receiving the treatment  had improved breathing (improvement of intensity of dyspnea), better PEFR score and fewer hospitalizations (44% for the magnesium group and 72% for the control group) compared to the control group.

Magnesium is inexpensive and has few side-effects. About 30% of those suffering from an acute asthma attack do not respond to standard treatment. Using magnesium is one way to improve results.