A couple months ago, I began using magnesium oil topically. My original purpose was to head off any morning sickness that I may experience with my current pregnancy. I had read research that magnesium deficiency was the real underlying cause of morning sickness. With three small children at home, the youngest of whom was only 11 months old at the time, I couldn’t afford to be stuck on the couch or even unable to cook.
As I was exploring magnesium, I realized there was a whole host of benefits to magnesium for many people. Almost everyone, in fact. Are you curious?
Magnesium Deficiency Runs Rampant
These days, most people are deficient in magnesium. Our soils are depleted, and our water is depleted. Most processing of water (including most home filters) remove nearly all magnesium. Even if you are eating an excellent, totally real food diet, you will struggle to get enough magnesium. Deficiency leads to many common symptoms, such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Restless legs
- Poor memory
- Muscle cramps
- High blood sugar
- Calcium deficiency
- Potassium deficiency
- Failure to thrive (infants/children)
- …and more
Magnesium is needed by our bodies for all of our basic functions! And a deficiency causes so many common symptoms. If you are suffering from any of the above, magnesium may be at least part of the solution.
If you have had a blood test and it noted that your magnesium levels were “fine,” don’t take this as a definitive answer. Only 1% of the body’s magnesium stores are in the blood, and the body works very hard to keep this level constant. A deficiency that shows up in the blood is severe. Not showing up deficient in the blood does not mean that you are not deficient.
The Best Way to Take Magnesium
Most people are familiar with the standard magnesium supplements — often a “cal-mag” (calcium and magnesium) pill. I do not trust pills really, because they are made with various binders and fillers and are poorly absorbed. Others like liquid magnesium supplements. Unfortunately, magnesium in any form is poorly absorbed orally, so these are better than pills, but not by much. Too much oral magnesium causes a laxative effect, and in fact epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) are actually used as a laxative!
The best way to take magnesium is transdermally, or through the skin.
Magnesium can be absorbed by:
- Swimming in water that is naturally rich in magnesium (if you live near naturally blue water, go swimming often!)
- Taking a bath with Epsom salts or magnesium chloride flakes added
- Taking a foot bath with Epsom salts or magnesium chloride flakes added
- Using a lotion or cream with magnesium added
- Using a magnesium oil spray
I choose the last, because I think it is the easiest, quickest, and most cost-effective way to get magnesium into your body. You can even make your own, and it’s very easy and very cheap!
To use magnesium oil:
- Use a misting spray bottle to spray the magnesium on thin-skinned areas: inner thighs, upper arms, belly, etc.
- Gently rub it in
- Allow it to dry and absorb for at least 15 – 20 minutes
- Use a damp cloth to wipe it off, if desired
Most people start with 12 – 24 sprays per day. Every body is different and every situation is different, so you will need to adjust. During times of stress and illness you will need more magnesium than other times. If you being to experience loose bowels, you are using too much!
Help, It Burns!
I have talked to several people who say that they can’t use the magnesium oil because it causes their skin to itch and burn and sometimes even develop a rash. I have heard all kinds of theories about why this is.
Some say you need to just adapt to using it (this is probably not the case). Others say that you need to dilute it and use less of it at first. Some say that it has to do with your body’s pH level, and that if you are too acidic it will cause this sort of reaction.
I have not been able to find any scientific research to back up any of these theories, necessarily, but I can tell you my own experience.
When I began using magnesium oil, I had no issues with it. It did not burn or sting and it didn’t really feel like anything on my skin. If I didn’t wipe it off, it would feel a bit itchy after applying a few days in a row, but really nothing much. I was baffled as to why I had no problems and others did.
And then…I started having problems. The rash on the back of my right hand that the furnace causes each winter flared badly, and I could hardly stand to put the oil on my legs at all because it itched and burned so badly. I had to wipe it off after only a few minutes because I couldn’t take it.
Here’s what changed: when I started using the magnesium oil, I was having probiotic foods 1 – 3x per day. I especially drank a bottle of kombucha everyday. ( Kombucha is also known to raise your body’s pH to be more alkaline.) After awhile I temporarily ran out of these probiotic foods and didn’t really use them regularly for a few weeks. That is when the oil began to itch and burn. When I began to do the probiotic foods, especially kombucha, daily — the oil stopped bothering me again.
I think that if the oil is bothering you, it is a sign of acidic pH and/or unhealthy gut flora. Additional probiotic foods would be beneficial and may stop the reaction. If you have some sort of gut damage, you may be unable to absorb the magnesium anyway and may need to work on healing first, possibly through the GAPS diet.
I also noticed that if I stopped using the magnesium oil for a few days that my muscles were more likely to get sore, I felt a bit more anxious, and I didn’t sleep as well. Using the magnesium again quickly soothed my muscles, anxiety, and helped me sleep!
Have you ever tried magnesium oil or other magnesium supplementation? Did it help?
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