You may already be familiar with the benefits of magnesium if you take an oral magnesium supplement—but you can reap additional benefits from magnesium by absorbing it transdermally, in the form of foot soaking or bathing with dissolved magnesium chloride hexahydrate salt flakes. Research, including a small September 2015 study in the Journal of Integrative Medicine, has shown support for the benefits of transdermal magnesium.
The chloride version of magnesium is the most bio-available form of magnesium, because it’s already in the right form for cells without further digestion required: Just add water and your skin will soak it in, in the same way it soaks in electrolytes when you take a swim in the ocean.
Sulphate vs. Chloride
Note that magnesium sulphate—Epsom salts—is not the same as magnesium chloride. Although we can get some benefits from soaking in magnesium sulphate, its effects are short-lived in comparison to magnesium chloride. Magnesium sulphate also has a skin-drying or irritating effect, whereas magnesium chloride hexahydrate is hydrating and attracts water to cells.
In addition to soaking, many health practitioners have discovered that dry-applying magnesium oil, a solution concentrate made of magnesium chloride salt flakes and water, can achieve remarkable results in alleviating muscle pain or swelling. (While many practitioners, including Mark Sircus, author of Transdermal Magnesium Therapy, and Carolyn Dean, author of The Magnesium Miracle, have endorsed this method, there have not been any formal studies conducted on it.)
One potential issue with this method is that the magnesium salts of the oil solution are always looking to join up with lipids before they can enter the epidermal layer. If you have oily skin, there are no issues. However, if you tend to have dryer skin, straight magnesium oil can feel quite sticky and irritating as it sits on the surface of the skin too long.
The simplest way to prepare your skin for optimal absorption of magnesium chloride is to first lubricate and condition it well with rich plant oils and butters. It is not advisable to use paraffin-based or petrochemical lubricants. Your skin is an organ; it excretes and it absorbs, and you don’t want to absorb toxic elements. Follow this conditioning with six or seven sprays of magnesium oil on the tough spots that need the most work to unravel tension.
How Oil Absorbs
The epidermal layer behaves like a nutrient reservoir, offering magnesium electrolytes to the connecting capillaries of the dermis underneath. The body has a homeostatic mechanism of self- regulation, so that by taking up electrolytes via skin it only takes on board what it can cope with at any one time—in a similar way to tree roots absorbing minerals from the soil. Regular daily application is therefore a must. You can’t drink a week’s worth of water on Monday and nothing for the rest of the week; neither can you absorb a week’s worth of magnesium on one day.
Who Needs Magnesium?
Magnesium is used in the process of metabolism. The body consumes mega amounts—especially when under stress of any kind. This means athletes can become very prone to magnesium deficiency. Hyperkalaemia, excessive calcium depositing in the soft tissue, ligaments and joints, is a typical sign of magnesium deficiency, as are cramping and restless legs.
As tissue cell levels of magnesium drop, calcium can leach out of the bones and settle in these places. You may also find it settling at injury sites or areas of low pH in the body, as calcium is also used by the body to alkalize and buffer acid by-products.
We are exposed to large amounts of calcium in foods these days, but relatively low levels of magnesium. It is often the case that simply increasing magnesium exposure can balance and control that excess calcium.
Complications of Low Magnesium
People can become dehydrated as magnesium levels drop, which causes the vascular system to constrict. This is because magnesium is vital in the operation of the cell membrane and electrolyte balance. As magnesium is lost, cell walls become weaker and more leaky. Sometimes the thirst mechanism in people is not working properly and they don’t feel thirst, but are obviously suffering dehydration symptoms.
Each cell operates like a mini battery: If you let the water and minerals drop, the voltage of the cell drops, which lowers metabolism and energy output. It’s important to make sure you keep up adequate water consumption, using filtered water with food-grade magnesium chloride salts to re-mineralize and charge the water.
Other beverages are just liquid food and must first be digested. Only water is the universal cleanser and solvent, and only water has the power to flush cells properly. We are made up of mostly water, with minerals to hold cells’ bio-electrical charge.
Benefits of Magnesium Plus Massage
As you receive massage, the therapist separates and loosens muscle fibers, which releases tension and helps increase healthy blood flow, which then delivers more oxygen to cells. However, if the therapist uses a cream containing transdermal magnesium in the process, she can push those electrolytes deeper into muscle tissue for faster and longer-lasting results in tension relief and muscle recovery.
Adding heat via a heat-wheat pillow or heated stones enhances the penetration of magnesium ions. This combination of magnesium and heat is very relaxing and one of the best ways to relieve stress, cramps and tension.
About the Author
Sandy Sanderson is CEO and co-owner of Elektra Magnesium brand of natural body care products and magnesium supplements in Australia. She has a bachelor’s degree in sales and marketing and owned a local tourist magazine for 11 years before suffering from life-threatening heart arrhythmia. After extensive research, Sanderson rebalanced her health using transdermal magnesium chloride; Elektra Magnesium grew from this experience.