Magnesium Research



by Shealy, M.D.,Ph.D C. Norman

Test Set Up

A 25% magnesium chloride oil used in foot baths . A 50% solution was used for the body spraying.

Transdermal absorption through the skin using 16 individuals with low intracellular magnesium levels

Dr Norman Shealy States "Our purpose was to research whether or not magnesium was absorbed through the skin. Exclusion factors included anyone taking oral or IV magnesium during the last 6 weeks and smokers. Individuals sprayed a solution of 50% Magic Oil [Magnesium Oil] over the entire body once daily for a month and did a 20 minute foot soak in Magic Oil once daily for a month. Subjects had a baseline Intracellular Magnesium Test documenting their deficiency and another post-Intracellular Magnesium Test after 1 month of daily soaks.
The results were impressive. Twelve of sixteen patients, 75%, had significant improvements in intracellular magnesium levels after only four weeks of foot soaking and skin spray."

Test Results


Foot Soaking













33.9 - 41.9




3.2 - 5.0




80.0 - 240.0




3.8 - 5.8




3.4 - 6.0




14.2 - 17.0




3.5 - 4.3




7.8 - 10.9




1.8 - 3.0




25.8 - 52.4




2.4 - 4.6




21.5 - 44.6



The case for intravenous magnesium treatment of arterial disease in general practice: Review of 34 years of experience
J. NUTR. MED. (United Kingdom), 1994, 4/2 (169-177)

Magnesium sulphate (MgSO4) in a 50% solution was injected initially intramuscularly and later intravenously into patients with peripheral vascular disease (including gangrene, claudication, leg ulcers and thrombophlebitis), angina, acute myocardial infarction (AMI), non-haemorrhagic cerebral vascular disease and congestive cardiac failure. A powerful vasodilator effect with marked flushing was noted after intravenous (IV) injection of 4-12 mmol of magnesium (Mg) and excellent therapeutic results were noted in all forms of arterial disease. This technique of rapidly securing very high initial blood levels of MgSO4 produces results in arterial disease which cannot be equalled by oral vasodilators or intramuscular (IM) or IV infusion therapy. It is suggested that the most important action of MgSO4 in AMI is to open up collateral circulation and relieve ischaemia thus reducing infarct size and mortality rates. Prophylactic use of MgSO4 and its effect on serum lipid, fibrinogen, urea and creatinine levels are discussed.

Magnesium deficiency produces insulin resistance and increased thromboxane synthesis
(USA), 1993, 21/6 II (1024-1029)

Evidence suggests that magnesium deficiency may play an important role in cardiovascular disease. In this study, we evaluated the effects of a magnesium infusion and dietary-induced isolated magnesium deficiency on the production of thromboxane and on angiotensin II-mediated aldosterone synthesis in normal human subjects. Because insulin resistance may be associated with altered blood pressure, we also measured insulin sensitivity using an intravenous glucose tolerance test with minimal model analysis in six subjects. The magnesium infusion reduced urinary thromboxane concentration and angiotensin II-induced plasma aldosterone levels. The low magnesium diet reduced both serum magnesium and intracellular free magnesium in red blood cells as determined by nuclear magnetic resonance (186plus or minus10 (SEM) to 127plus or minus9 mM, p<0.01). Urinary thromboxane concentration measured by radioimmunoassay increased after magnesium deficiency. Similarly, angiotensin II-induced plasma aldosterone concentration increased after magnesium deficiency. Analysis showed that all subjects studied had a decrease in insulin sensitivity after magnesium deficiency (3.69plus or minus0.6 to 2.75plus or minus0.5 min- 1 per microunit per milliliterx10-4, p<0.03). We conclude that dietary- induced magnesium deficiency

1) increases thromboxane urinary concentration and

2) enhances angiotensin-induced aldosterone synthesis. These effects are associated with a decrease in insulin action, suggesting that magnesium deficiency may be a common factor associated with insulin resistance and vascular disease.

Magnesium deficiency produces spasms of coronary arteries: Relationship to etiology of sudden death ischemic heart disease
SCIENCE (USA), 1980, 208/4440 (198-200)

Isolated coronary arteries from dogs were incubated in Krebs-Ringer bicarbonate solution and exposed to normal, high, and low concentrations of magnesium in the medium. Sudden withdrawal of magnesium from the medium increased whereas high concentrations of magnesium decreased the basal tension of the arteries. The absence of magnesium in the medium significantly potentiated the contractile responses of both small and large coronary arteries to norepinephrine, acetylcholine, serotonin, angiotensin, and potassium. These data support the hypothesis that magnesium deficiency, associated with sudden death ischemic heart disease, produces coronary arterial spasm

Magnesium and sudden death
S. AFR. MED. J. (SOUTH AFRICA), 1983, 64/18 (697-698)

Magnesium deficiency may result from reduced dietary intake of the ion increased losses in sweat, urine or faeces. Stress potentiates magnesium deficiency, and an increased incidence of sudden death associated with ischaemic heart disease is found in some areas in which soil and drinking water lack magnesium. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated experimentally that reduction of the plasma magnesium level is associated with arterial spasm. Careful studies are required to assess the clinical importance of magnesium and the benefits of magnesium supplementation in m


Magnesium content of erythrocytes in patients with vasospastic angina
(USA), 1991, 5/4 (677-680)

The possibility that a magnesium deficiency might be the underlying cause of vasospastic angina (VA) and the efficacy of Mg administration in its treatment were studied. Subjects included 15 patients with VA and 18 healthy subjects as the control group. The erythrocyte Mg content was measured by atomic absorption, and serum Mg was measured by conventional chemical assay. The efficacy of Mg administration was studied in seven patients with VA. The results were as follows: (a) The mean erythrocyte Mg content was less in the group with frequent episodes of angina (1.59 plus or minus 0.11 mg/dl) than in the group without angina (2.11 plus or minus 0.38 mg/dl, p < 0.01) and in the control group (2.22 plus or minus 0.29 mg/dl, p < 0.01). There was no significant difference between the control group and patients of each group with respect to serum Mg. (b) Coronary arterial spasm was induced by ergonovine maleate in seven patients and was completely inhibited by the administration of Mg sulfate (40-80 mEq, hourly) in six of these patients; in the remaining patient neither obvious ST change nor chest pain occurred. Thus, it was concluded that the measurement of erythrocyte Mg content is useful to determine how easily vasospasm might occur in VA and that the administration of Mg might be developed as a new therapy for spasm associated with a low erythrocyte Mg content.


Magnesium and glucose homeostasis
(Germany, Federal Republic of), 1990, 33/9 (511-514)

Magnesium is an important ion in all living cells being a cofactor of many enzymes, especially those utilising high energy phosphate bounds. The relationship between insulin and magnesium has been recently studied. In particular it has been shown that magnesium plays the role of a second messenger for insulin action; on the other hand, insulin itself has been demonstrated to be an important regulatory factor of intracellular magnesium accumulation. Conditions associated with insulin resistance, such as hypertension or aging, are also associated with low intracellular magnesium contents. In diabetes mellitus, it is suggested that low intracellular magnesium levels result from both increased urinary losses and insulin resistance. The extent to which such a low intracellular magnesium content contributes to the development of macro- and microangiopathy remains to be established. A reduced intracellular magnesium content might contribute to the impaired insulin response and action which occurs in Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus. Chronic magnesium supplementation can contribute to an improvement in both islet Beta-cell response and insulin action in non-insulin-dependent diabetes subjects.


Magnesium and carbohydrate metabolism
(France), 1994, 49/1 (1-7)

The interrelationships between magnesium and carbohydrate metabolism have regained considerable interest over the last few years. Insulin secretion requires magnesium: magnesium deficiency results in impaired insulin secretion while magnesium replacement restores insulin secretion. Furthermore, experimental magnesium deficiency reduces the tissues sensitivity to insulin. Subclinical magnesium deficiency is common in diabetes. It results from both insufficient magnesium intakes and increase magnesium losses, particularly in the urine. In type 2, or non-insulin-dependent, diabetes mellitus, magnesium deficiency seems to be associated with insulin resistance. Furthermore, it may participate in the pathogenesis of diabetes complications and may contribute to the increased risk of sudden death associated with diabetes. Some studies suggest that magnesium deficiency may play a role in spontaneous abortion of diabetic women, in fetal malformations and in the pathogenesis of neonatal hypocalcemia of the infants of diabetic mothers. Administration of magnesium salts to patients with type 2 diabetes tend to reduce insulin resistance. Long-term studies are needed before recommending systematic magnesium supplementation to type 2 diabetic patients with subclinical magnesium deficiency.

Disorders of magnesium metabolism
Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America
(USA), 1995, 24/3

Magnesium depletion is more common than previously thought. It seems to be especially prevalent in patients with diabetes mellitus. It is usually caused by losses from the kidney or gastrointestinal tract. A patient with magnesium depletion may present with neuromuscular symptoms, hypokalemia, hypocalcemia, or cardiovascular complication. Physicians should maintain a high index of suspicion for magnesium depletion in patients at high risk and should implement therapy early.

Magnesium and potassium in diabetes and carbohydrate metabolism. Review of the present status and recent results.

Magnesium (SWITZERLAND) 1984, 3 (4-6) p315-23

Diabetes mellitus is the most common pathological state in which secondary magnesium deficiency occurs. Magnesium metabolism abnormalities vary according to the multiple clinical forms of diabetes: plasma magnesium is more often decreased than red blood cell magnesium. Plasma Mg levels are correlated mainly with the severity of the diabetic state, glucose disposal and endogenous insulin secretion. Various mechanisms are involved in the induction of Mg depletion in diabetes mellitus, i.e. insulin and epinephrine secretion, modifications of the vitamin D metabolism, decrease of blood P, vitamin B6 and taurine levels, increase of vitamin B5, C and glutathione turnover, treatment with high levels of insulin and biguanides. K depletion in diabetes mellitus is well known. Some of its mechanisms are concomitant to those of Mg depletion. But their hierarchic importance is not the same: i.e., insulin hyposecretion is more important versus K+ than versus Mg2+. Insulin increases the cellular inflow of K+ more than that of Mg2+ because there is more free K+ (87%) than Mg2+ (30%) in the cell. The consequences of the double Mg-K depletion are either antagonistic: i.e. versus insulin secretion (increased by K+, decreased by Mg2+) or agonistic i.e. on the membrane: (i.e. Na+K+ATPase), tolerance of glucose oral load, renal disturbances. The real importance of these disorders in the diabetic condition is still poorly understood. Retinopathy and microangiopathy are correlated with the drop of plasma and red blood cell Mg. K deficiency increases the noxious cardiorenal effects of Mg deficiency. The treatment should primarily insure diabetic control.

Intravenous magnesium sulfate in acute severe asthma not responding to conventional therapy
Indian Pediatrics
(India), 1997, 34/5 (389-397)

Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of early administration of intravenous magnesium sulfate (IV MgSO4) in children with acute severe asthma not responding to conventional therapy. Design: Randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Setting: Pediatric emergency service of a large teaching hospital. Subjects: 47 children aged between 1-12 years with acute severe asthma showing inadequate or poor response to 3 doses of nebulized salbutamol given at an interval of 20 min each. Intervention: The MgSO4 group received 0.2 mg/kg of 50% MgSO4 as intravenous (IV) infusion over 35 minutes and the placebo group received normal saline infusion in the same dose and at the same rate. MgSO4 solution and normal saline were coded and dispensed in identical containers. Decoding was done at the completion of the study. All the patients received oxygen, nebulized salbutamol, IV aminophylline and corticosteroids. Results: MgSO4 group showed early and significant improvement as compared to placebo group in PEFR and SaO2 at 30 min and 1, 2, 3 and 7 hours after stopping the infusion (p ranging from <0.05 to <0.01). The clinical asthma score also showed significant improvement in the MgSO4 group 1, 2, 3 and 11 hours after stopping the infusion (p < 0.01). Conclusion: Addition of MgSO4 to conventional therapy helps in achieving earlier improvement in clinical signs and symptoms of asthma and PEFR in patients not responding to conventional therapy alone.

Magnesium in supraventricular and ventricular arrhythmias

Zeitschrift fur Kardiologie (Germany), 1996, 85/SUPPL. 6 (135-145)

The use of magnesium as an antiarrhythmic agent in ventricular and supraventricular arrhythmias is a matter of an increasing but still controversial discussion during recent years. With regard to the well established importance of magnesium in experimental studies for preserving electrical stability and function of myocardial cells and tissue, the use of magnesium for treating one or the other arrhythmia seems to be a valid concept. In addition, magnesium application represents a physiologic approach, and by this, is simple, cost-effective and safe for the patient. However, when one reviews the available data from controlled studies on the antiarrhythmic effects of magnesium, there are only a few types of cardiac arrhythmias, such as torsade de pointes, digitalis-induced ventricular arrhythmias and ventricular arrhythmias occurring in the presence of heart failure or during the perioperative state, in which the antiarrhythmic benefit of magnesium has been shown and/or established. Particularly in patients with one of these types of cardiac arrhythmias, however, it should be realized that preventing the patient from a magnesium deficit is the first, and the application of magnesium the second best strategy to keep the patient free from cardiac arrhythmias.


Role of magnesium and calcium in alcohol-induced hypertension and strokes as probed by in vivo television microscopy, digital image microscopy, optical spectroscopy, 31P-NMR, spectroscopy and a unique magnesium ion-selective electrode
CLIN. EXP. RES. (USA), 1994, 18/5 (1057-1068)

It is not known why alcohol ingestion poses a risk for development of hypertension, stroke and sudden death. Of all drugs, which result in body depletion of magnesium (Mg), alcohol is now known to be the most notorious cause of Mg-wasting. Recent data obtained through the use of biophysical (and noninvasive) technology suggest that alcohol may induce hypertension, stroke, and sudden death via its effects on intracellular free Mg2+ ((Mg2+)(i)), which in turn alter cellular and subcellular bioenergetics and promote calcium ion (Ca2+) overload. Evidence is reviewed that demonstrates that the dietary intake of Mg modulates the hypertensive actions of alcohol. Experiments with intact rats indicates that chronic ethanol ingestion results in both structural and hemodynamic alterations in the microcirculation, which, in themselves, could account for increased vascular resistance. Chronic ethanol increases the reactivity of intact microvessels to vasoconstrictors and results in decreased reactivity to vasodilators. Chronic ethanol ingestion clearly results in vascular smooth muscle cells that exhibit a progressive increase in exchangeable and cellular Ca2+ concomitant with a progressive reduction in Mg content. Use of 31P-NMR spectroscopy coupled with optical-backscatter reflectance spectroscopy revealed that acute ethanol administration to rats results in dose-dependent deficits in phosphocreatine (PCr), the (PCr)/(ATP) ratio, intracellular pH (pH(i)), oxyhemoglobin, and the mitochondrial level of oxidized cytochrome oxidase aa3, concomitant with a rise in brain-blood volume and inorganic phosphate. Temporal studies performed in vivo, on the intact brain, indicate that (Mg2+)(i) is depleted before any of the bioenergetic changes. Pretreatment of animals with Mg2+ prevents ethanol from inducing stroke and prevents all of the adverse bioenergetic changes from taking place. Use of quantitative digital imaging microscopy, and mag-fura-2, on single-cultured canine cerebral vascular smooth muscle, human endothelial, and rat astrocyte cells reveals that alcohol induces rapid concentration-dependent depletion of (Mg2+)(i). These cellular deficits in (Mg2+)(i) seem to precipitate cellular and subcellular disturbances in cytoplasmic and mitochondrial bioenergetic pathways leading to Ca2+ overload and ischemia. A role for ethanol-induced alterations in (Mg2+)(i) should also be considered in the well-known behavioral actions of alcohol.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Researchers who have studied the relationship between RLS and magnesium have discovered low blood levels in many RLS sufferers, where the magnesium in the body may be too aggressively transported from blood serum to cerebrospinal fluid. Magnesium helps with muscle contraction and healthy conduction of nerve impulses, and patients who experience almost immediate relief from their RLS within days of increasing their magnesium intake. Our Pacific Magnesium Oil is the highest concentration of Magnesium and is Highly absorbable to the body.


A 1998 open clinical trial of 10 patients suffering from insomnia related toperiodic limb movements during sleep (PLMS) or mild-to-moderate restless legs syndrome (RLS) (1) examined magnesium therapy for periodic leg movements-related insomnia and restless legs syndrome. The authors note:

“Magnesium was administered orally at a dose of 12.4 mmol in the evening over a period of 4-6 weeks. Following magnesium treatment, PLMS associated with arousals (PLMS-A) decreased significantly (17 +/- 7 vs 7 +/- 7 events per hour of total sleep time, p < 0.05). PLMS without arousal were also moderately reduced (PLMS per hour of total sleep time 33 +/- 16 vs 21 +/- 23, p = 0.07). Sleep efficiency improved from 75 +/- 12% to 85 +/- 8% (p < 0.01). In the group of patients estimating their sleep and/or symptoms of RLS as improved after therapy (n = 7), the effects of magnesium on PLMS and PLMS-A were even more pronounced. Our study indicates that magnesium treatment may be a useful alternative therapy in patients with mild or moderate RLS-or PLMS-related insomnia. Further investigations regarding the role of magnesium in the pathophysiology of RLS and placebo-controlled studies need to be performed.

A 1999 review on how to help patients with restless legs noted in the discussion on nonpharmacologic management that:

“Supplementation to correct deficiencies in vitamins (eg, folate), electrolytes (eg, magnesium), or iron may improve symptoms.”

1. Hornyak M, Voderholzer U, Hohagen F, Berger M, Riemann D. Magnesium therapy for periodic leg movements-related insomnia and restless legs syndrome: an open pilot study. Sleep. 1998 Aug 1;21(5):501-5.

2. Virgilio Gerald H. Evidente, Charles H. Adler. How to help patients with restless legs syndrome discerning the indescribable and relaxing the restless. Postgraduate Medicine. 1999; 105(3)


The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism states: "Young men taking magnesium can slow bone turnover which is the routine breakdown and rebuilding of bone. Bone turnover is important in postmenopausal women because this process can contribute to bone loss and osteoporosis, a crippling embrittlement of bones."

According to Dr. Susan Lark, MD in her newsletter, New Choices the Chemistry of Weight Loss, summer 2001, "Magnesium is critical for getting rid of cellulite. Many of the weight problems I have seen can be cured with magnesium." A British researcher found that 80% of fatigue patients lack magnesium. The reason magnesium is important is, it stops cortisol production, which makes your belly bigger and because it helps convert fatty acids into the anti-inflammatory prostaglandin. Dr. Lark, says she has seen inflammation disappear and women loss 10 pounds in one week.


In the journal Headache, March 1996, researchers reported that patients with clustered headaches had their acute headache aborted by magnesium therapy. "In clustered headaches, people suffer up to 20 bouts of pain daily in a single siege that can last for months. A single infusion of magnesium has ended those clustered headaches with some relief in 2 to 7 days. Among those who recovered the fastest were those taking magnesium."



A study by Agricultural Research Service physiologist Henry C. Lukaski and nutritionist Forrest H. Nielsen reveals important findings on the effects of depleted body magnesium levels on energy metabolism.

Lukaski is assistant director of Agricultural Research Service Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, Grand Forks, North Dakota. He and Nielsen, with the center's clinical nutrition support staff, showed that inadequate magnesium is associated with a need for increased oxygen during exercise.

They found that during moderate activity, those with low magnesium levels in muscle are likely to use more energy and therefore to tire more quickly than those with adequate levels.

The study's first phase provided 10 postmenopausal women with a controlled diet adequate in magnesium for 35 days. In the next phase, a low-magnesium diet provided less than half the recommended daily intake for 93 days. The last phase provided a diet adequate in magnesium for 49 days. The volunteers were subjected to exercise tests at the end of each dietary phase, along with biochemical and physiological tests.

After consuming the low-magnesium diet, volunteers showed a significant overall loss of magnesium. They had lowered muscle levels of magnesium, and their red blood cells were at the low end of the normal range.

The data shows that during the low-magnesium-status phase, the volunteers used more oxygen during physical activity, and their heart rates increased by about 10 beats per minute. " When the volunteers were low in magnesium, they needed more energy and more oxygen to do low-level activities than when they were in adequate-magnesium status," says Lukaski. T he study was published in the May 2002 issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

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