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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2012

Chapter 19 - Magnesium and stress

from Section 3 - Involvement of Magnesium in Psychiatric Diseases



Magnesium status is highly associated with stress levels, with both stress and hypomagnesemia potentiating each other's negative effects. Indeed, hypomagnesemia has been associated with stressful conditions such as photosensitive headache, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, audiogenic stress, cold stress, and physical stress, amongst others. The role of magnesium in these conditions is unclear, although a number of potential mechanisms for magnesium's action have been identified including via the glutamatergic, serotonergic, and adrenergic neurotransmitter systems, as well as via several neurohormones. The current review examines the link between magnesium deficiency and stress, focusing on the association between magnesium and various stress pathologies, magnesium's potential interaction with stress pathways, and magnesium's effects on the brain.


At the beginning of the twentieth century, Walter Cannon pioneered research concerning the importance of the sympathetic nervous system in adaptation of the body. While Claude Bernard was the first who defined the term of “milieu interieur” as being “the constancy of the internal environment” (see Cameron, 2007), it was Walter Cannon who coined the terms “homeostasis” and “fight-or-flight response” (see Quick, 1994). Subsequently, Hans Selye (see Neylan, 1998) in 1936 adapted a concept from physics describing the resistance of a body to applied pressure in order to define the concept of stress. General adaptation syndrome, as he called it, is the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.