Sunflower, argan, coconut—these are just some of the essential oils people always rave about. With the wide range of potential benefits of magnesium oil, can it also be considered one of the oils everyone must have?
Why Do We Need Magnesium?
It’s not a secret that magnesium is an abundant and essential nutrient in our body. It’s needed for more than 300 biological processes, which include regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure, as well as making protein, bone, and DNA.
With its involvement in many functions, it plays a major role in disease prevention and overall health. According to a study published in the National Institutes of Health (NIH), low levels of magnesium have been associated with chronic diseases such as migraine, hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke.
Magnesium is naturally present in many of the foods we eat. It’s also available as dietary supplements and present in some medicines like antacids (the one you take for gastric irritations) and laxatives (for constipation). Good food sources of magnesium include legumes, nuts, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables.
However, data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) show that people in the United States consume less than the recommended amounts of magnesium. When dietary supplements were added, the total intake reached the recommended amount.
This brings the question: what are the recommended magnesium dietary supplements? Well, they come in a wide variety of forms such as magnesium oxide, citrate, and chloride—as a pill, capsule, oil, or even spray.
The absorption of these forms also varies, but small studies found that magnesium in the aspartate, citrate, lactate, and chloride forms is absorbed by our body more completely than in oxide and sulfate.
Magnesium Supplementation: Is It Still a Need?
Magnesium supplementation has been studied to have several benefits, but most of the research done focused on food and oral supplementation. However, magnesium taken orally through supplements may cause side effects such as loose bowel movements and even diarrhea in worse cases.
This is where the topical application of magnesium may come in. Although there is still quite limited supporting data for transdermal absorption, or absorption through the skin, some studies and articles mention the effectiveness and superiority of transdermal magnesium over oral application.
Transdermal application is said to be more effective than when taken orally because of its better absorption and fewer side effects as it does not have to go through our gastrointestinal tract.
Given its potential benefits, we focus on one option for transdermal application. It’s a form of magnesium chloride commonly known as magnesium oil.
Is Magnesium Oil Really an Oil?
Here’s the thing: it’s technically not an oil. Magnesium oil is a mixture of dissolved flakes of magnesium chloride and distilled water. It’s just that the resulting liquid of this combination is slippery like oil, thus the name.
Potential Benefits of Magnesium Oil
To help you discover the advantages of using it, here’s everything we know about the benefits of magnesium oil.
Magnesium Oil for Sleep and Relaxation
Magnesium is studied to have natural muscle relaxant characteristics. It activates our parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for relaxation. Magnesium also helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle and can mimic the action of melatonin.
In other words, magnesium oil can have that ‘calming effect’ and may potentially improve sleep quality. So, if you’re one of the many people who have sleeping problems, you might want to ask a health professional if you can consider magnesium supplementation.
Now, you might wonder where to put magnesium oil for sleep. A small study published in NIH demonstrated how transdermal application of magnesium chloride on the arms and legs helped patients with fibromyalgia. People with fibromyalgia experience pain all over their body characterized by chronic pain, discomfort, fatigue, and sleep disturbances.
Participants in this study were asked to spray magnesium chloride four times on each limb, twice daily, for one month. The results showed that this spray helped in improving symptoms.
Benefits of Magnesium Oil on Feet and Legs
An article from the Journal of Microencapsulation studied the effect of magnesium oil-enriched nanogel of Methotrexate (MTX) for improved arthritic joint mobility, repair, and reduced inflammation. MTX is prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation in arthritis patients, however, they believed that this might not be enough to address the problems.
The results showed that magnesium oil-enriched MTX helped achieve significant recovery and improved walking. This supported the use of magnesium oil in addition to MTX for improved transdermal application.
Several articles also mention the use of magnesium oil for a variety of leg pains and discomfort. Applying magnesium oil to feet, calves, and thighs showed to provide relief.
Benefits of Magnesium Oil for Muscles
If calcium is responsible for muscle contraction, magnesium on the other hand helps in muscle relaxation. In fact, muscle cramps are one of the usual manifestations of hypomagnesemia or the condition where there is a low level of magnesium in the blood.
Articles and research also support that when magnesium is lacking in the body, you might experience muscle spasms or cramps more frequently. We have mentioned earlier that one of the many functions of magnesium involves muscle function, so it’s safe to say that it’s vital for neuromuscular transmission and contraction.
Benefits of Magnesium Oil for Skin
Based on an article from NIH, magnesium deficiency is a factor in several inflammatory diseases including skin disorders. Topical or transdermal application is one of the oldest forms of treating skin diseases and published reports attributed the topical application of magnesium to the improvement of inflammatory skin conditions.
Also, research shows that topical application of magnesium may reduce oil production of the sebum because of its ability to enhance skin hydration and dermal permeability. This could be beneficial especially to people dealing with chronic acne and breakouts.
Benefits of Magnesium Oil for Hair
Various research claims that when applied to the scalp, magnesium oil may help nourish the hair and prevent hair fall. Further, the low level of magnesium may contribute to hair loss. Although this needs more scientific studies and basis, several articles still claim that magnesium oil may benefit hair growth.
Benefits of Magnesium Oil Spray
Now that we’ve talked about magnesium oil, the spray type is pretty self-explanatory. It’s basically magnesium oil in a spray bottle. This has also become a popular option of supplemental magnesium because aside from it being handy and easy to use, it becomes more and more famous for its benefits in sleep enhancement, muscle recovery, and joint therapy.
According to one manufacturer of this spray, the general recommended application is between 5 and 10 sprays. Ideally, you have to massage the solution into the skin to stimulate absorption. Remember: little and often application is key. It’s also important to note that before applying anything new to your skin, you should test it on a small area first, or better yet consult your dermatologist. 
Magnesium Oil: How To Use
Most of the guides in using magnesium oil, specifically sprays, recommend using it after a shower (while your pores are open and can absorb better) or before sleep. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use it so you can maximize its benefits:
- Choose a body part. During your first time using magnesium oil, you may feel a tingling sensation or a slight irritation which will lessen over time. You may opt to apply it to less sensitive areas of the body such as the arms, legs, and abdomen. Some articles say that the best place to apply it for that overall effect is your feet. However, when using it specifically for pain relief, you may apply it directly to the problem area such as the knees or back.
- Spray and massage. Most of the brands come in a spray bottle for easy application. After spraying to the chosen spot, massage it to help in the absorption. When you feel like your skin isn’t absorbing it anymore, it’s a sign to stop applying.
- Leave it on. Let the magnesium oil absorb for about 20-30 minutes before rinsing or wiping away the residue. Some people also prefer to moisturize after the application.
- Make it a routine. Like most supplements and treatments, it’s important to do it regularly to achieve the desired results. Unfortunately, it won’t work wonders overnight. It can take time to effectively increase your magnesium level so you might want to include it in your daily routine.
Also, remember that your body’s reaction will not always be the same as others. If you experience loose bowels, diarrhea, or other side effects, make sure to consult with your doctor.
As with other supplements and treatments, we can only maximize the benefits of magnesium oil if used appropriately. While magnesium oil is known to be generally safe, it’s always good to check with a health professional when you’re trying something that may affect your body.
Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your own healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.