[Skip to Navigation]
May 1950

MAGNESIUM INTOXICATION: Absorption from the Intact Gastrointestinal Tract

Author Affiliations


From the New York Hospital and the Departments of Medicine (Neurology) and Psychiatry, Cornell University Medical College.

Arch NeurPsych. 1950;63(5):749-759. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1950.02310230071006

MAGNESIUM sulfate U. S. P. (Epsom salt) is used in medicine chiefly for two effects. When given parenterally in small doses, it is an effective cerebral depressant, and therefore useful in the control of convulsions. When introduced into the gastrointestinal tract in hypertonic solution it is considered to be poorly absorbed, and therefore useful for its osmotic effect. In drawing water from the body, it accomplishes both dehydration and diarrhea. In amounts of 15 to 20 Gm. it is often given by mouth as a laxative, and in approximately the same amounts it is one of the constituents of the familiar "magnesium sulfate, glycerin and water" enema.

This report is chiefly concerned with the widespread practice of administering large amounts of magnesium sulfate by slow drip per rectum to induce dehydration in the management of increased intracranial pressure and cerebral edema. It has usually been assumed that this procedure is

Add or change institution