Milk of Magnesia Ingredients on Label and Interactions


You may want to know the active milk of magnesia ingredients in order to get a sense into its mode of operation and try to get a sense into some of the rather unorthodox uses of this common over-the-counter medication that is available in most homes. This guide will explore all that and more.

Ingredients in Milk of Magnesia

It might interested you to know the ingredients in any medication you take and that includes milk of magnesia which is commonly used as a laxative and antacid. The ingredients in milk of magnesia may vary slightly from one product (a brand name that is) to another but magnesium hydroxide remains the main ingredient in all of them.

For example, some newer varieties come with numerous flavors such as mint and cherry in Phillips to replace the classic taste that some people think it is too medicinal (one user even said that it tastes too “vitaminy” while reviewing it on amazon).

Magnesium hydroxide – the main ingredient in milk of magnesia products – is an inorganic compound that was patented in 1818 for treatment of digestive disorders. It is comprised of magnesium and hydroxyl ions. The magnesium hydroxide is usually suspended in pure water to form the oral suspension that most people know. The color of the suspension is very similar to that of milk; that is where this substance derives its name.

Philips milk of magnesia is one of the commonest brands out there. Ensure you check the label for ingredients list
Philips milk of magnesia is one of the commonest brands out there. Ensure you check the label for ingredients list

The hydroxyl ions from (from magnesium hydroxide) in the milk of magnesia are responsible for the neutralizing properties that makes it a popular antacid medication. When the hydroxyl ions come into contact with the hydrogen ions (H+) from stomach hydrochloric acid. Together they form water which is a neutral substance. The overall result is that hydrochloric acid doesn’t reach the gastrointestinal nerves – the phenomenon that causes acidity related problems e.g. heartburn.

The magnesium ions in the magnesium hydroxide gives milk of magnesia its laxative properties. When absorbed into the intestinal tract, they raise the concentration of fluids on that side, causing water to move in through osmosis. The result is loosening of things in there, restoring the then failed bowel movements.

In addition to oral suspension form, milk of magnesia is also available in tablet form which also features magnesium hydroxide as the main active milk of magnesia ingredient even though its concentration may slightly vary in the tablets as we will later see with Phillips MoM.

In addition to magnesium hydroxide and water (the basic milk of magnesia ingredients), milk of magnesia products also contain sodium hypochlorite  – the standard household bleach – in very low concentrations act as a buffering agent.

Phillips Milk of Magnesia Ingredients

As one of the earliest products, Phillips milk of magnesia has gained the trust of doctors and medical professionals over the years making it so popular that it is almost synonymous with the term “milk of magnesia”.

As a matter of fact, it is what most people are referring to when holding any discussion or making an explanation to do with milk of magnesia, be it for treatment of constipation, heartburn, and other medical problems it is recommended for, to the controversial uses as a makeup primer, for people with oily skin to weight loss (a use that doctors vehemently discourage).

Phillips milk of magnesia ingredients can be classified into medicinal and non-medicinal and vary between the oral suspension form and the tablet form.

Phillips tablets each contain 311 mg of magnesium hydroxide as the active ingredient in addition to non-medicinal milk of magnesia ingredients such as dextrates, peppermint oil, silicon dioxide, magnesium stearate, starch, sucrose, and maltodextrin.

As for the suspension, it features 80mg of magnesium hydroxide as the main ingredient alongside other non-medicinal ingredients such as purified water, carboxymethylcellulose, ethanol, menthol, mineral oil, glycerin, microcrystalline cellulose, sodium saccharin, sodium hypochlorite, sodium citrate, sucrose, and xanthan gum. Flavor specific ingredients include cherry flavor and D&C Red No. 28 (for cherry flavor) and peppermint flavoring (for mint flavor).

Milk of Magnesia Ingredients List on Label

What are the milk of magnesia ingredients list as indicated on the label of the product? Well, Antonio, the list of ingredients will vary slightly depending on the formulation i.e. whether liquid or solid, and flavor.

There are tablets and liquid MoM, which makes the ingredients a bit different
There are tablets and liquid MoM, which makes the ingredients a bit different.

We have already listed the active medicinal and the non-medicinal ingredients in one of the most popular milk of magnesia preparations in the previous section of this article, but as you will soon notice, magnesium hydroxide is the active ingredient in all formulations even as the non-medicinal ingredients vary from one product to the other.

Milk of Magnesia Interactions

“I am on a treatment course for typhoid fever but have been having terrible heartburns the whole of today. I am considering using my grandma remedy – milk of magnesia – to neutralize the acidity but I am afraid of potential drugs interaction. What medications are known to cause interactions with milk of magnesia if any?” Jayden

Well, Jayden, it is true that taking more than one medicine at a time may cause interactions among them. Among the medicines that are known to carry the risk of interaction with milk of magnesia are tetracycline, ibuprofen (a common pain killing medication), cimetidine, bisphosphonates, ketoconazole, digoxin, dicoumerol, salicylates, penicillamine, and sodium polystyrene sulphonate.

If you are on any medication or have recently taken other medications, including dietary supplements, herbal preparations, and vitamins, it is prudent to talk to your doctor or a pharmacist before you start taking milk of magnesia.

Ingredients in Milk of Magnesia and Acne

What milk of magnesia ingredients help with treatment of acne as widely claimed on the internet? This is another question from by one of our readers that we feel befits this topic of discussion. The whole idea of using MoM for treatment of acne is rather controversial with differing opinions from different quarters.

Proponents of this remedy argue that milk of magnesia ingredients help to breakdown of skin oils (esters and steryl esters) which then helps to prevent acne. Others think that the natural zinc in MoM is responsible for the improvement observed in acne pimples. Opponents of the same however argue that applying MoM in fact increase the risk of acne breakouts especially with prolonged use. We have discussed more about use of milk of magnesia for acne elsewhere.