Magnesium oil is made from a mixture of magnesium chloride flakes and water. When these two substances are combined, the resulting liquid has an oily feel, but isn’t technically an oil. Magnesium chloride is an easy-to-absorb form of magnesium that may be able to raise levels of this nutrient within the body when applied topically to the skin.
Magnesium is an important nutrient. It has multiple functions within the body. These include:
- regulating nerve and muscle function
- supporting healthy pregnancy and lactation
- maintaining healthy blood sugar levels
- maintaining optimum blood pressure levels
- manufacturing and supporting protein, bone, and DNA health
Magnesium is found naturally in many foods. Its highest concentrations are found in:
- whole grains
- prickly pears
- dairy products
- nuts, and seeds
- white potatoes
- soy cheese
- green, leafy vegetables, such as spinach and Swiss chard
It’s also added to some manufactured products, such as many breakfast cereals.
Magnesium can also be purchased in supplement form as a pill, capsule, or oil. Magnesium oil can be rubbed on the skin. It’s also available in spray bottles.
Magnesium oil can be made from scratch at home by mixing magnesium chloride flakes with boiled, distilled water. You can find a recipe for preparing DIY magnesium oil here.
Benefits and uses
Magnesium deficiency has been linked to many conditions, some of which include:
- heart disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Much of the research done on magnesium supplementation and these conditions has centered on dietary magnesium in food and oral supplementation. While the benefits of magnesium supplementation appear to be significant, little research has been done to date on magnesium oil, which is delivered through the skin instead of orally.
However, one small study, reported in the Journal of Integrative Medicine, indicated that transdermal application of magnesium chloride on the arms and legs of people with fibromyalgia reduced symptoms, such as pain. Participants were asked to spray magnesium chloride four times on each limb, twice daily, for one month. Some people with fibromyalgia have too little magnesium in muscle cells. Most magnesium in the body is housed in either muscle cells or bone.
Side effects and risks
It’s unclear whether topical magnesium oil has the same benefits as taking oral magnesium supplements or eating a diet rich in magnesium. If you’re concerned that you have a magnesium deficiency, or you simply wish to get more of this important nutrient into your system, talk about your concerns with your doctor or nutritionist.
If you decide to use magnesium oil, test it out on a small patch of skin to see if you have an adverse reaction. Some people experience stinging or a lingering burning sensation.
It may be hard to accurately determine dosage when using topical magnesium oil. Even so, it’s important not to overdo it. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommend that people do not exceed the upper limits of magnesium supplementation, which are based upon age. For adults and children older than 9, the upper limit recommended is 350 milligrams. Ingesting too much magnesium can cause diarrhea, cramps, and nausea. In cases of extreme intake, irregular heartbeat and cardiac arrest may occur.
Magnesium oil is touted extensively online as a potential curative for many conditions, such as migraines and insomnia. However, the research on topical magnesium is very limited, and there are varying opinions as to the body’s ability to absorb it fully through the skin. Magnesium oil has been shown in one small study to alleviate fibromyalgia symptoms, such as pain. Discuss its use with your doctor or a nutritionist to determine if transdermal magnesium is right for you.