This is a personal account of my experience with a transdermal magnesium supplement, as well as a information regarding using magnesium: the what and how.
I first came across magnesium supplements through a friend. I was on the phone to her in tears explaining how bad my premenstrual symptoms had become. At the time I was on-demand breastfeeding my 15-month-old daughter, who would regularly like to feed at hourly intervals through the night. Emotional challenges and kidney stones through my pregnancy had left me depleted even before my child was born. On top of that I had recently moved back to the UK from Tanzania, East Africa after living and working there doing a full-time project managers job with my first child attached to me 24/7. I was utterly exhausted. Moving back to the UK had been a life-saver but breastfeeding and sleep deprivation left me ruined. My PMS was so bad that I was feeling suicidal before my period, terribly anxious most the time and in a bad mood all the time. My friend listened to me sob about how terrible my life was and advocated magnesium supplements. I promised to order some online the following day, and immediately started using it on arrival. The effects were immediate and the change incredible. The burning itch/tingle that I felt on applying it to my skin told me my body was crying out for this supplement, and as soon as it hit my skin I felt a sense of relief and relaxation in my muscles. Even after just a week of using the transdermal supplement I could feel my stress levels reducing; I was changing from being horrendously short tempered and shouty, to being able to manage myself and take a breath rather than losing the plot on a daily basis. I also noticed that my anxiety was reducing and sleep showing slight improvements. The proof really came with my next menstrual period. Although I still felt exhausted and weepy, I did not feel the dark cloud of depression and I had no suicidal thoughts. After some months I could feel the tingling lessen on each application, and stress/anxiety levels decreasing as well as PMS getting less and less. I’m not saying this is the only thing that changed things for me: I was taking a holistic approach by taking herbal medicine, fortnightly acupuncture treatments and trying to meet my other basic needs of good food and adequate hydration, but it was certainly a game-changer. This is the one supplement that I consistently reach for when my stress or anxiety levels are high, or when my sleep is poor despite using all my other tools and resources.
Magnesium is an essential element that can only be attained through our diet. It is needed for more than 250 different metabolic processes in the body and most importantly is needed for the synthesis of Adenosine triphosphate (ATP); a building block of energy. Magnesium is used by every organ in the body, most especially heart, muscles and kidneys. It is one of the most disregarded minerals, with more than 90% of people being deficient. Although available through food: the highest sources are dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains and cereals, yoghurt, bananas, dried fruit and dark chocolate.
While Calcium, a counterpart of magnesium, is widely promoted and regarded in mainstream health and media, it remains largely unknown that magnesium is necessary for the regulation of calcium and that without it calcium can have damaging effects on the body. In fact, calcium without magnesium can upset the balance within the nervous system. Here are the most common symptoms of magnesium deficiency:
- Insulin resistance
- Osteoporosis/bone fragility
- High blood pressure
- Muscle weakness/cramps
- General fatigue/exhaustion
- Cognitive issues: poor memory and concentration
- Nausea and digestive issues
Because using transdermal magnesium had such a profound effect on my own health, I began researching it more in depth. I was fascinated to find that the herbalist Henriette Kress wrote this interesting and important blog on magnesium and post-natal depression. As well as this article emphasising its importance in health I began recommending this transdermal supplement to patients, with amazing results. Time and time again it had the same immediate, transforming effect that I had felt. Most of my patients at that time (and to date!) were presenting with mental health issues (depression/anxiety/stress) and menstrual problems (endometriosis, PMS/PMT, abnormal bleeding), and they were astounded how quickly and effective a magnesium supplement was.
The reason you should chose a transdermal oil over oral tablets is because the oil applied to the skin allows it to be directly absorbed into the blood stream. Evidence suggests that when taken orally, because of digestive processes, much less is actually absorbed. Researchers suggest that there is no way of conclusively measuring exactly how much magnesium is actually reaching the cells when taken orally. And you feel the effects immediately when using the oil, which in itself is therapeutically valuable to feel muscle relaxation.
This company outlines that one teaspoon contains 560mg of elemental magnesium. They also say that 1 squirt is equivalent to 10mg, so 10 is 100mg. I usually recommend people to use 5 times 10 squirts on various parts of their bodies: feet, knees, abdomen, décolettage and neck/shoulders on a daily basis. I personally prefer to put it on after my morning shower, rubbed into my body oil, then dress and get on with the day. And if it’s been a particularly stressful day then I will do that again at night time, leave for 30 minutes, shower and go to bed. I also recommend that people do regular footbaths with magnesium flakes or a weekly bath with a generous double handful of flakes added. Magnesium is assisted by the consumption of a B complex supplement, notably B6.
The only side-effect that I have noticed with people taking this supplement is that they may develop a rash: either on their chest or neck/shoulders. Avoiding using the oil on that area makes the rash disappear.
I have found a lot of useful, expert knowledge and support through this Facebook Magnesium Advocacy group. Transdermal magnesium can also be used for children and can make significant differences in children with poor sleep – please seek advice on this particular topic.
There are many herbs rich in magnesium, as well as other micronutrients. Herbs worth exploring are: burdock root (Arctium lappa), nettle (Urtica diocia), horsetail (Equasetum sp.), yellow/curled dock (Rumex crispus).