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Magnesium Deficiency & Dysautonomia

By Vita Ruvolo-Wilkes

Dysautonomia, the umbrella term for a number of neurological dysfunction, describes a collection of symptoms that affect the bodily functions you do not consciously control. This includes the heart beat and blood pressure, digestion and waste elimination. Evidence points to a magnesium deficiency as a possible cause for the onset of the symptoms of dysautonomia when they occur in the absence of another contributing factor.

Symptoms and Triggers

Degenerative conditions such as mitral valve prolapse, Parkinson’s disease, trauma and chemical exposure can present with many of the same symptoms as dysautonomia. Primary familial dysautonomia represents the most common type and causes excessive fatigue, excessive thirst, lightheadedness or vertigo, rapid or slowed heart rate and fainting due to low blood pressure. Some people also experience headaches, flushing, digestive system maladies, visual disturbances and numbness. Simple incidents of fear, being startled, a sudden drop in blood pressure or hunger can stimulate the vagal nerve and trigger an episode.

Magnesium’s Role

Your body always seeks balance. There are reactions for every action that happens in your organs. This occurs to keep the body in homeostasis, a state of balance. The mineral magnesium works in conjunction with calcium to keep the muscles, nerves and bones healthy. They compete with each other for a place in the body and keep each other in check. When there’s a shortage of magnesium, calcium takes over and builds its supply. This results in a breach of homeostasis and a cascade of events occurs by the affected organs.


Studies have looked at what causes the symptoms of dysautonomia. According to Tufts Medical Center, one study followed 141 people who suffered from dysautonomia for 10 weeks, documenting symptoms. The study found that 60 percent of the group had low levels of magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is considered to be a rare condition, but it occurred in high numbers in this particular group. Other studies had similar results, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.


Primary dysautonomia does not always have an underlying treatable cause. Magnesium supplementation can lower the number and severity of episodes; however, some symptoms need to treated individually. Panic attacks often associated with dysautonomia require sedative use such as benzodiazepine or an anti-depressant. Talk therapy and biofeedback may help to stop the episode before it escalates. Dysautonomia associated with diseases and conditions require diagnosis and specialized treatment. You can have dysautonomia as a result of organ failure, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, anemia, alcohol abuse or the use of antidepressants or tranquilizers. Consult a physician if you have the symptoms of dysautonomia.

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