Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, and plays a role in over 300 essential metabolic reactions.
Needless to say, a deficiency in this essential nutrient is going to leave you feeling out of sorts, and can pave the way for more serious health issues down the line.
One of the simplest ways to boost levels of the magnesium in the body is by applying a magnesium-rich lotion daily. Not only does this replenish nutrient stores, but it moisturizes and softens the skin!
Keep reading to discover why you should use magnesium lotion, and then get to work whipping up your very own homemade batch!
12 Benefits of Topical Magnesium
- Cellular detoxification
- Decreased inflammation
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
- Enhanced cognitive function
- Better bone health
- Fewer headaches and migraines
- Improved sleep
- Better heart health
- Less stress and anxiety
- Reduction in muscle aches and pains
- Anti-aging effects
- …and much more!
Transdermal versus Dietary Magnesium
Transdermal magnesium therapy is simply a method of delivering minerals to the body through the skin (i.e. transdermal). This isn’t a new concept – topical remedies anointed, bandaged, rubbed or applied to the skin are likely to have been used since the origin of man! More recent, science-based examples include nicotine patches to help smokers quit, or estrogen patches to treat menopausal symptoms.
Despite a long history and evidence based approach, the idea of reaching our daily intake of magnesium through the skin may be a foreign notion to many, particularly as we have been commonly taught to get our nutrients from food sources. However, when it comes to magnesium, many people struggle to reach their daily targets through diet alone, for one or more of the following reasons:
Why Magnesium Deficiency Is So Common
Eating the Wrong Foods
The majority of Americans eat a diet rich in processed and refined foods, which are devoid of many nutrients.
Only about half of US adults consume the Recommended Dietary Allowance of magnesium. Although nuts, seeds, leafy green vegetables, legumes, whole grains and some fortified foods are the best sources of magnesium in the diet, few Americans get their magnesium from these foods.
Instead, research shows that the little magnesium most Americans get comes from subpar sources, such as coffee, milk, bananas and even beer!
Poor Soil Quality
Even the health-conscious people who strive to make the RDA of 320mg of magnesium daily for a woman, and 420mg for a man (figures magnesium expert Dr. Carolyn Dean says fall far short of what is needed), may not even be coming close, thanks to poor food quality.
Founder of the American Holistic Medical Association, Dr. Shealy, has warned that the soil in every country in the world except Egypt has been farmed to the point of magnesium depletion; mainly due to inadequate crop rotation and use of pesticides.
Too Much Calcium
Magnesium and calcium work synergistically in the body, and both are required for optimal health. Today’s diet, however, is too rich in calcium, which further depletes low magnesium stores.
Those who consume a lot of dairy may actually require more than the recommended magnesium intake in order to balance their magnesium/calcium ratio.
According to some figures, the body typically only absorbs between 20% and 50% of the magnesium it ingests.
Medications such as diuretics and antibiotics can disrupt the healthy functioning of the kidneys, which causes them to excrete, rather than reabsorb, magnesium.
Digestive factors like poor gut health, low stomach acid and gastrointestinal diseases can also reduce the amount of magnesium absorbed in the GI tract. Aging, diabetes, alcohol dependence, stress, and illness also reduce magnesium absorption.
Other Benefits of Transdermal Magnesium
As you can see, applying magnesium to the skin is a fantastic way to complement your dietary intake of this essential mineral. A few other reasons to apply magnesium topically include:
High Level of Absorption
Although absorption rates vary, magnesium oil tends to have one of the highest rates of absorption of any form of this mineral. In a study on transdermal application of a 31% magnesium chloride solution, it was found that after 12 weeks’ treatment 89% of subjects raised their cellular magnesium levels – with an average increase of 59.7%!
Given that equivalent results using oral supplements took between 9 and 24 months to achieve, that’s pretty impressive!
Furthermore, the patients showed an improvement in their calcium/magnesium ratio; and 78% demonstrated significant evidence of detoxification of heavy metals following the treatment.
Get Right to the Source
Those with aches and pains caused by inflammation, sore joints, arthritis or even post-workout soreness should give topically applied magnesium a go. It’s the most efficient way to deliver the mineral to the site of pain, so that it can quickly relieve muscle pain, cramps and fatigue; reduce inflammation; and encourage regeneration of tissues.
Regularly applying this lotion, or other topical magnesium formula, can even increase flexibility, strength and endurance.
More Readily Assimilated than Epsom Salts
Epsom salts are rich in magnesium, which is why taking an Epsom salt bath is so relaxing.
However, the magnesium sulfate in Epsom salt is less easily assimilated and metabolized by the body than the magnesium chloride used in this homemade lotion.
Magnesium sulfates are rapidly excreted through the kidneys, and so you require more magnesium sulfate than magnesium chloride to achieve the same effects. This rapid metabolization also explains why the effects of applying this lotion last much longer than those from an Epsom salt bath.
That said, there are still plenty of reasons to enjoy an Epsom salt bath in conjunction with using your homemade lotion!
Better than Supplements
As we’ve seen in the study on magnesium oil mentioned above, transdermal application boosts bodily levels of the mineral much quicker than supplements.
But did you know just how poor some magnesium supplements really are? Certain forms of the supplement, like magnesium oxide, have been shown to have an absorbable magnesium potency as low as 4%!
What’s more, if you have trouble assimilating magnesium from foods, you can suffer the same problems with supplements.
And finally, some supplement brands may not even contain the vitamins and minerals they say they do! In 2015, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman revealed that 79% of supplements tested in one investigation didn’t actually contain the primary ingredient listed on the label!
Applying this lotion – which you can do in place of your regular moisturizer – requires almost minimal effort, giving you maximum bang for your buck. Once you make a batch, it lasts for up to two months in the fridge, and goes a long way toward supplementing your dietary magnesium intake.
How to Make your Own Magnesium Lotion
- 1/2 cup magnesium chloride flakes and 3 tablespoons boiling water (or you can use a pre-purchased or pre-made magnesium chloride oil solution)
- 1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons emulsifying wax
- 3 tablespoons Shea butter
- 10-20 drops of essential oil of choice (optional)
- To make a magnesium oil solution, mix the magnesium flakes with the boiling water and stir until completely dissolved. Allow to cool. (If you are using a pre-purchased or pre-made magnesium oil, you can skip this step).
- In a double boiler (or a smaller saucepan inside a larger saucepan half-filled with hot water), stir the coconut oil, wax and Shea butter over medium-low heat until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Pour the oil/wax blend and the dissolved magnesium flakes into a bowl. Slowly and gently mix using an immersion blender. If using the essential oils, add them to the mix at this point.
- Once blended, leave the lotion to cool for a few hours and then mix again until you achieve a thick, creamy consistency.
- As this lotion doesn’t contain any preservatives, it’s best to store it in the refrigerator or other cool, dark place for up to two months.
How To Use Your Magnesium Lotion
Start slowly with this cream, initially applying no more than a teaspoon or so, and working your way up to higher levels as your body adjusts to an influx of extra magnesium. Once your symptoms of magnesium deficiency have been resolved, you can maintain at this level or reduce your use slightly.
Homemade magnesium lotion can be applied to any part of the body, particularly the soles of the feet, or areas where you are experiencing muscle aches or pains – such as the lower back, feet, legs, neck or shoulders.
You can also mix this lotion with a few drops of carrier oil, like sweet almond or coconut, to make a soothing massage oil.
This hydrating cream also acts as a natural sleep aid when applied before bedtime.
Allow the lotion to stay on your skin for at least 20 to 30 minutes (although longer is fine) as transdermal magnesium requires this length of time for absorption.
Don’t fancy making your own magnesium lotion? Then you can purchase a ready-made version, such as this Life-Flo Health Products Magnesium Lotion.