If George Orwell had studied magnesium he might have concluded that all minerals are equal but some minerals are more equal than others.
Thousands of years ago the Chinese named it 'the beautiful metal'. They understood that magnesium - along with air and water - is key to life on Earth. During the early days of evolution, the harnessing of sunlight energy led to an explosion of life forms. Capturing light depends, ultimately, on magnesium. The green pigment, chlorophyll, allows plants to turn sunlight into chemical energy via photosynthesis. Chlorophyll is built around a core of magnesium.
Following the dictates of the food chain, animals and humans eat the plants, or the animals that have eaten the plants (or both, if the munchies attack) and the flow of life goes on, utterly dependent on the dance between sunlight, air, water and chlorophyll, and the magnesium nestling in chlorophyll's leafy heart. Having evolved, as we did, in the presence of magnesium, the element is an integral part of our make-up. It is needed for the smooth working of countless functions in the body. And a deficiency wears many masks. We literally can't breathe, move a muscle or think a thought without sufficient magnesium in our cells. In its absence, things wither and die.
It is essential for enzyme production; forming new cells; energy production; bone, protein and fatty acid formation; relaxing the nerves, muscles and blood vessels; cardiovascular health; brain health; mental health; oral health; reproductive health; hormone production (e.g. the sleep hormone melatonin and the anti-ageing hormone DHEA); the secretion and action of insulin; and painkilling. (And that's just for starters!)
Our bodies have never learnt to stockpile magnesium. Why? Because of its consistent availability in our evolutionary environment. In our oceanic forms we were submerged in it and once we padded onto land, we kept our precious levels high by eating our greens, as our Ur-Mamas told us to, and our nuts, seeds, grains, seaweed, meat and fish. Technically, our needs should be met by munching on magnesium-rich foods. But nowadays? Not a chance! Intensive farming and food processing methods have depleted our soils and foods of magnesium. But living in a polluted world has increased our need for it because it is integral to the body's detoxification process.
Meanwhile, cooking, alcohol, food additives, heavy metals and other toxins are straining our stores. A vicious circle. If the detox process is incomplete, metabolic and ingested poisons can build up in the body, causing system malfunction [*bleep bleep*] and illness. According to Dr Carolyn Dean, many conditions are triggered or caused by lack of magnesium. The most common include fatigue, ageing, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, cramping (including period pains), restless legs, weakened teeth, insomnia, migraine, anxiety, depression, irritability, and acute and chronic muscle pain.
Help is at hand, though. Dr Dean also argues that replenishing our reserves via magnesium-rich foods, green drinks, or supplements can relieve such conditions. It is vital to eat a wide range of organically-grown foods, including mineral-rich sea veggies, to get the broad range of nutrients we need for good health. But for optimum magnesium levels, supplementation may be necessary.
Unfortunately, oral supplements can be tricky. Common forms, such as magnesium oxide and magnesium sulphate (Epsom Salts) are badly assimilated and best used for inducing a cleansing case of the trots. Magnesium citrate is better absorbed but loosens stools if you take too much.
A dicky digestive tract compromises things too. You could be taking lots of magnesium (according to the tin) but absorbing very little, while at the same time making firm friends with your loo. What can you do? Enter the heroine, magnesium chloride. Magnesium Chloride, also known as transdermal magnesium, topical magnesium or magnesium oil, is actually a slinky supersaturated brine.
The purest natural form comes from the Zechstein Sea, an ancient, unpolluted seabed lying deep beneath the lands of northern Europe. It is a liquid you can take orally (foul!) or massage into your skin (cool!). Applied via the skin, magnesium chloride sinks in fast and efficiently, bypassing the liver and going straight to the cells. Higher amounts of magnesium can reach the tissues this way with no intestinal angst. It is almost 100% absorbed and you can control the dose by using the spray pump provided. BetterYou has a fantastic Magnesium Oil Spray. We recommend spraying about 10-15 spritzes all over the body just after a shower (when your pores are open). There may be a bit of tingling - but that's a good thing! It usually means you're deficient in it and in need of the good stuff.
Day by day, magnesium helps to relieve fatigue, muscle aches, period pains (women who suffer tend to be particularly magnesium deficient), restless legs, migraine and insomnia, and prevent heart disease and cancer. A good sign of magnesium deficiency is an unbridled craving for choccie; sadly, the desire evaporates when enough magnesium is supplied. Could this be the only reason not to supplement? Or to supplement with chocolate, perhaps? Hmmm! A quandary... ;-)
Magnesium plays a key role in the body's painkilling process. Transdermal magnesium slots into the analgesic cascade, relieving pain first caused by lack of magnesium! It relaxes tense muscles and blood vessels. Take aim and spray where it hurts! But be patient if it doesn't work immediately for severe pain. I suspect people whose magnesium stores are low may need to fill them before they feel its painkilling action. Rigid joints and the ageing process bow to magnesium, too.
In an era when calcium is thrust upon us, magnesium is its counterpart and counteraction. Calcium tenses and hardens tissues, while magnesium relaxes and loosens them. Magnesium (along with Vitamin D and boron) is needed to build calcium into bone. It is the glue to calcium's chalk. If Magnesium & Co. are unavailable to tow calcium to the boneyard, it parks illegally in joints and organs instead, making them tight and rigid and interfering with their functioning (e.g. ovaries calcifying leads to PMS). Calcification is another name for ageing.
The Beautiful Metal, on the other hand, is abundant in babies, children and young people. It de-calcifies (and thus de-ages) organs, while re-calcifying and strengthening bones. It is also essential for the production of DHEA, the youth hormone. Anecdotal reports claim that magnesium chloride can reverse grey hair; banish warts, moles and age spots; smooth wrinkles; harden tooth enamel; make skin glow; and rekindle a waning sex life.
Women on the edge of menopause have even claimed the return of regular periods. It makes an effective deodorant, too, when sprayed under the arms and rubbed in, but don't do it if your skin is grazed. Magnesium chloride is an excellent disinfectant but it stings like crazy!
Spritz it daily on your scalp to darken grey hair, onto skin blemishes to heal them, and into your mouth to harden teeth. Try adding 60mls of magnesium chloride or a half cup of Magnesium Flakes to your bath for a relaxing soak - a good way to go if you have sensitive skin. But luxuriating in it too long can lead to muscle cramps, so don't leave kids unsupervised in a magnesium bath. Foot baths are excellent too. Even if you don't have time for a soak, spray the soles of your feet for the the quickest way to absorb topically.
If you are spraying magnesium onto sensitive skin, dilute it 50:50 with pure water until you get used to it. It can sting, even on unbroken skin. Avoid your eyes and other delicate tissues.
The Hopsack sells BetterYou Magnesium Oil Spray (100ml) Magnesium flakes. Also, worth checking out is New Horizon's Ultimate Magnesium. Many customers have had great results with this for helping with sleep and lowering anxiety levels.
Magnesium absorption can be aided by the presence of Vitamin B6. Viridian makes a good B6 supplement - called Magnesium Citrate with B6. If you need advice, the Lovelies in The Hopsack will be only too happy to help you.
Important Note: Always consult with your doctor if you are ill and/or on medication and want to supplement with magnesium, as it can interact with some medications and is contraindicated for people with severe kidney disease, kidney failure, Myasthenia Gravis, bowel obstruction, heart block, and possibly other conditions. Please check first.