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Topical Magnesium Trial

April 9, 2010 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

Some people “age better” than others in terms of external measures of beauty and youth. But regardless of outward appearances, you can count on this: if you’re lucky enough to grow old, significant changes will occur in the internal nooks and crannies of your body. Cursory examinations of older patients sometimes miss some of these shifts. An example is detailed in the December 2009 issue of the journal Magnesium Research. A group of Italian scientists reveal that “plasma magnesium (Mg) concentrations are remarkably constant in healthy subjects throughout life, while total body Mg and Mg in the intracellular compartment tend to decrease with age”. The authors go on to say that “dietary Mg deficiencies are common in the elderly population” and are likely a result of excess urinary loss, poor intestinal absorption and reduced bone stores of Mg. The relevance of this lack of magnesium cannot be underestimated as it may contribute to the likelihood of many health concerns such as asthma, chronic fatigue, inflammation, muscle loss (sarcopenia) and more.

The question then becomes: How do you increase intracellular and total body Mg in those who cannot absorb this nutrient well via diet or supplementation? Some alternative and complementary practitioners believe that transdermal magnesium is the answer. Admittedly, there’s a limited amount of peer-reviewed, published studies that have evaluated this particular delivery system. However, a pilot study presented in a book by Dr. Norman Shealy, “Holy Water, Sacred Oil”, claims that 4 weeks worth of daily exposure to topical magnesium lead to a 24% increase in intracellular Mg in 75% of the study participants. In addition, several published trials suggest that topical magnesium can assist patients with allergic reactions (especially skin allergies) and improve dermal hydration while reducing skin inflammation and roughness. There is even an account of magnesium assisting with wound healing when combined with topical zinc chloride. (1,2,3,4)

We’ll return to the topic of transdermal magnesium later in this column. But right now, I want to turn the spotlight on the most current scientific information available about magnesium in general.

  • A group of scientists from the Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana, India will be publishing a paper in the May 2010 issue of the journal Biological Trace Element Research. The title of the presentation is “Implications of Magnesium Deficiency in Type 2 Diabetes“. Among the points that they make: a) “magnesium is a cofactor of various enzymes in carbohydrate oxidation and plays an important role in the glucose transporting mechanism of the cell membrane”; b)“it is also involved in insulin secretion, binding and activity”; c) chronic magnesium deficiency has been associated with the development of insulin resistance”. The net result of these observations is that magnesium may play an important role in the development of blood sugar irregularities. (5)
  • A fascinating scientist by the name of George Eby recently addressed the issue of magnesium deficiency and depression in the April 2010 issue of the journal Medical Hypothesis. There he notes that a lack of magnesium may indirectly cause neuronal injury and neurological dysfunction. To bolster his case, he cites studies going all the way back to 1921 demonstrating dramatic success in the management of “agitated depression” in some 220 out of 250 case reports. However a modern trend of removing magnesium from processed foods could very well be increasing the prevalence of depression and, more specifically, treatment-resistant depression – a condition that is estimated to affect as many as 60% of those with clinical depression. One of the most intriguing details that’s presented in this review is that “inadequate brain magnesium appears to reduce serotonin levels” and that “anti-depressants have been shown to have the action of raising brain magnesium”. (6)
  • Heart health is the focus of a few current publications that add to the reputation of magnesium as a potent cardioprotective nutrient. The first evaluation determined that “magnesium supplementation improves myocardial metabolism, inhibits calcium accumulation and myocardial cell death”, and “reduces cardiac arrhythmias and improves lipid metabolism”. The second paper is an analytical review of 44 human studies on the use of magnesium in patients with high blood pressure. The overall conclusion is that “Mg supplements above the RDA (recommended daily allowance) may be necessary to significantly lower high blood pressure in Stage 1 HT (hypertension) unless subjects have been continuously treated with anti-HT medications > 6 months”. (7,8)
  • The addition of magnesium prior to exercise appears to increase testosterone levels in young athletes. A 4 week study recently tested the levels of testosterone in three groups of men: 1) a sedentary group that received supplemental magnesium (10 mg/kg); 2) an active group, practicing tae kwon do (a martial art); 3) volunteers engaging in tae kwon and given magnesium supplements identical to the first group. Testosterone tests were administered at various stages of exhaustion and rest. The findings indicate that “magnesium increases free and total testosterone values in sedentary and in athletes. The increases are higher in those who exercise than in sedentary individuals”. (9)
Magnesium Deficiency May Increase Diabetes Risk
Source:  Journal of the Amer College of Nutrition, Vol. 25, No. 6, 509-513 (link)

A few months ago I was contacted by a representative of a company that produces transdermal magnesium products. I was able to arrange for a free product trial for 5 members of my reading audience. Specifically, I’m looking for 5 people who have issues with one or more of the following symptoms: anxiety or depression, elevated blood sugar, high blood pressure and any form of recurrent muscle cramping or pain.

Here’s how the experiment will work: 1) I’ll find 5 viable candidates who would like to participate; 2) I’ll select and distribute an objective testing method to establish a “before and after account” of symptom severity; 3) an 8 oz bottle of Ancient Mineral Ultra Pure Magnesium Oil will be sent directly from the manufacturer; 4) the participants will use the product daily for a one month period and report test scores back to me; 5) I’ll tabulate the scores and report anonymously the results here in a future column.

If you’re interested in participating in this experiment or if you have any questions, please contact me via the comment section at the bottom of this page or by sending an email to jp@healthyfellow.com. As with the previous experiments we’ve conducted here, I will also be trying out the magnesium oil and report back on my own experience with it.

As a final note, I want to clearly state that Magnetic Clay, Inc. has provided me with several products for free in order for me to evaluate. However, I have received no financial or other type of compensation from them. In addition, I will post unedited reader accounts of the magnesium oil trial regardless of whether positive or negative. This is not a paid advertisement.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

Be well!


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Posted in Diabetes, Mental Health, Nutritional Supplements

15 Comments & Updates to “Topical Magnesium Trial”

  1. anne h Says:

    Magnesium – the original tonic/clonic tonic.
    And the balance for calcium-channel blockers!
    I love me some MgSO4!
    Good writing, as usual, JP!

  2. Nina K. Says:

    Good Morning, JP 🙂

    funny, two days ago i discussed with a girlfriend the topical properties of a death sea salt bath, that is healthy for skin and the salts (Magnesium and Calcium and other nutrients) go through the skin, she wasn’t sure but i was because i read about that. I remember that – in the case of a salt bath – the skin on feet and scalp is extremely absorptive. Maybe this fact is helpful for the Magnesium experiment here 🙂

    ot: Happy weekend for you both 🙂

    Nina K.

  3. JP Says:

    Thank you, Anne!

    It’s so true. Magnesium has so many applications! 🙂

    Be well!


  4. JP Says:

    Good day, Nina! 🙂

    It is helpful! Thank you! The same company that makes the magnesium oil also has a magnesium bath salt product that is derived from the “Ancient Zechstein Seabed in Europe”. They recommend dissolving a serving of the salts (about 1 cup) in a foot bath or full batch tub and soaking in them for at least 30 minutes. Sounds good (and relaxing) to me!

    I hope you and your husband have a wonderful weekend too!

    Be well!


  5. Jonathan Says:

    I’m interested in participating if another participant is needed. The first mentioned symptom would be the one I’d be looking for improvement on. Thanks

  6. James Reno Says:

    I like your blog. Very useful information. I eat lots of almonds for magnesium.

    James Reno

  7. Nina K. Says:

    Good Morning @all 🙂

    thanks JP!

    James Reno: try to eat pumpkin seeds, they have even more magnesium ( http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=82 )

    Nina K.

  8. JP Says:

    I’ll be in touch, Jonathan. There’s still room for a few more participants. 🙂

    Be well!


  9. JP Says:

    Thank you, James. 🙂

    Be well!


  10. JP Says:

    A great suggestion, Nina! I love pumpkin seeds. 🙂

    Be well!


  11. Hans Says:

    How long does it take to see results in lowering blood pressure with topical magnesium?

    Thanks – I’ve been using magnesium gel on the bottoms of my feet ever since I read the comment that it’s more absorptive.


  12. JP Says:


    I don’t think there’s any reliable documentation that can (currently) be used to answer your question. For comparison’s sake, studies using oral magnesium typically last at least one month.




    You should probably test your blood pressure regularly to see if the topical magnesium is working for you. That will be the ultimate indicator.

    Be well!


  13. Beth S. Says:

    So, how did the study go? Did you ever get enough participants?
    I’d love to try this.

  14. JP Says:


    I had trouble collecting the post-trial data. All told, it was a disappointing experience – I’m sad to say.

    Having said that, the feedback that was returned was relatively positive. In particular, one participant reported a marked reduction in leg cramps.

    Be well!


  15. JP Says:

    Updated 10/02/16:


    Magnes Res. 2016 Jun 1;29(2):35-42.

    Permeation of topically applied Magnesium ions through human skin is facilitated by hair follicles.

    Magnesium is an important micronutrient essential for various biological processes and its deficiency has been linked to several inflammatory disorders in humans. Topical magnesium delivery is one of the oldest forms of therapy for skin diseases, for example Dead Sea therapy and Epsom salt baths. Some anecdotal evidence and a few published reports have attributed amelioration of inflammatory skin conditions to the topical application of magnesium. On the other hand, transport of magnesium ions across the protective barrier of skin, the stratum corneum, is contentious. Our primary aim in this study was to estimate the extent of magnesium ion permeation through human skin and the role of hair follicles in facilitating the permeation. Upon topical application of magnesium solution, we found that magnesium penetrates through human stratum corneum and it depends on concentration and time of exposure. We also found that hair follicles make a significant contribution to magnesium penetration.

    Be well!


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