Friday, April 22, 2011
I was looking primarily for keys to health that were inexpensive, or free; and that patients could utilize or practice on their own, rather than having to pay a doctor or therapist to do it for them.
One of my first finds was the powerful, yet safe and gentle mineral, magnesium.
I am often asked, “Why do you talk so much about magnesium?” It is because magnesium is a critical mineral that affects every part of the body, and because most Americans are deficient in magnesium. Magnesium is so basic to all bodily functions that when a person does not have enough, a wide variety of mild to severe symptoms can occur. Most Americans are getting approximately 200 mg of magnesium from their diet. The RDA (the minimal requirement, not the optimal level) was 400 mg/day. The current DRI is 420 mg/day.
Signs that may indicate magnesium insufficiency include, but are not limited to; back or neck pain, muscle spasms, headache, panic attacks, tiredness, poor sleep, depression, anxiety, tension, nervousness, high blood pressure, kidney stones, gall stones, osteoporosis, breast tenderness, PMS, mitral valve prolapse, constipation.
A few of the most serious diseases that have been linked to magnesium deficiency are heart disease, diabetes, depression, and osteoporosis.
Some of the conditions that are benefited by magnesium are:
menstrual cramps - preeclampsia - back or neck pain - muscle spasms - headache - panic attacks - tiredness - poor sleep - depression - tension - nervousness - high blood pressure - kidney stones - gall stones - osteoporosis - breast tenderness - PMS - mitral valve prolapse - constipation
Not all magnesiums are created equal: Magnesium in nutritional supplements is delivered in a variety of chemical forms, including glycinate, chloride, citrate, oxide, sulfate, aspartate, and others. The most common, least effective, and cheapest form of magnesium is magnesium oxide. It is used in most multivitamins, and tends to cause intestinal gas and diarrhea. Because of the ill effects, manufacturers reduce the amount of magnesium in their supplements to 1/4 of the RDA level; never advising potential buyers of the low potency.
The greatest dangers of supplemental magnesium are: 1) forgetting to take yours, 2) taking an ineffective and/or insufficient amount and thinking that you are protected.
The most effective magnesium I have worked with since 1995 is Mag Glycinate from Metagenics. I have watched hundreds of patients try other forms of magnesium with little or no success or relief. This simple nutrient has markedly improved the lives of many of my patients, often without making any other lifestyle changes. This brand and chemical form of magnesium is only sold in doctor's offices, and can be difficult to find.
Using magnesium glycinate often provides so much relief from musculoskeletal conditions that a patient may not need treatment from a DC or MD.
I recommend 400 mg/day of elemental magnesium in the form of magnesium glycinate. Remember, you need more than the RDA.
Take the test: Take Mag Glycinate as I have recommended (below) for two weeks; consistently. Then stop taking it for two weeks. Repeat this cycle 3 times and keep some notes on how you feel and function on and off of it. Many people clearly feel better on than off. Warning - not feeling better does not prove that you do not need magnesium - there may be too many other health-deterring factors in your life for you to feel the effect of the magnesium.
When and how to take Mag Glycinate: Mag Glycinate is best taken away from food, though many patients report excellent results when taken with food. I suggest that patients take 2 tablets when they wake up in the morning, and 2 when they go to bed. It is fine to take one at a time, four times throughout the day.
Some individuals are gut-sensitive to magnesium. They may experience intestinal gas or loosening of the stool. If this occurs, the dose should be decreased, if need be, by breaking tablets in pieces, until no symptoms occur. Discuss this sensitivity with your doctor for guidance in selecting an appropriate dose. Those who are gut-sensitive are usually those who are most deficient in magnesium.
How to find an effective magnesium, wherever you are in the United States: you can buy SlowMag, or its generic at most any pharmacy, over-the-counter. To achieve the same effects as Mag Glycinate, you will need to take 6 of the SlowMag tablets per day.
Testing for magnesium has historically been done by measuring magnesium in the serum (liquid portion of the blood). However, it has been known for years, and has been published in medical journals that serum magnesium is an extremely inaccurate test. Even so, most doctors still order serum testing. Superior tests include:
RBC magnesium: Red blood cell testing is not the most accurate, but is the most readily available.
Intracellular testing: of cells from the inside of the mouth by means of an electron microscope: see EXA test
Growth assessment: see SpectraCell
Insist on accurate magnesium testing. Your life may depend on it! Cardiologists with whom I have talked are as amazed as I am that most doctors still order inaccurate serum magnesium testing. If you have only had serum magnesium testing, you don’t know anything reliable about your magnesium status. Beware and be in charge of your health.
Epsom salts baths: Epsom salts are the salt of magnesium sulfate. It is best used in a warm to hot bath. Because of the heat, they are not suggested during the first 24-48 hours following acute injuries (sudden onset such as a sprained ankle) in which swelling is present. Epsom salts are highly effective in treating chronic aches and pains, soreness from overuse, and sprains and strains after the acute phase (usually 24-48 hours following injury). Epsom salts can be purchased at large grocery stores and drug stores for $3-4.00 per half gallon. Put ½ gallon of Epsom salts into a hot bath. Soak for 15 minutes.
Epsom salts are not just good for aches and pains. Many people find a soak very relaxing. It can improve sleep and leaves the skin feeling very soft.
If you are using a bath for treatment of significant back pain, be sure to get out of bath while the water is still in the tub. The water will buoy you and assist you in getting out of the tub. If you think you might have trouble getting out, and you don’t want to be left sitting in a cold and empty tub, it is wise to have another person in the house when you take your bath in case you need assistance.
A laxative can be worth its weight in gold. Magnesium is worth so much more!