In an old Jewish text written close to 2000 years ago there is a story about an old wise man. He was walking through town when one of his sandals came loose. The old man lifted his foot up to his hands and while balancing on his other foot he refastened his sandal. People who were passing by asked him: how are you able to balance so easily at your old age. His answer was: the oils with which my mother rubbed me as a baby keep me healthy and strong.
Oils were traditionally used for cleansing and for protection from disease. I’ve made it a habit as a mom to massage our children with oils and balms. Different seasons call for different medicinal plants and I love to make new rubs for them. This past year I’ve been experimenting with topical magnesium creams and balms.
Magnesium is very important in maintaining the proper function of the body. “Magnesium is an essential element required as a cofactor for over 300 enzymatic reactions and is thus necessary for the biochemical functioning of numerous metabolic pathways.” (Source)
“Mg deficiency is a common and widespread cause of many everyday physical and mental health problems.” (Source)
“Level I evidence supports the use of magnesium in the prevention and treatment of many common health conditions including migraine headache, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, asthma, premenstrual syndrome, preeclampsia, and various cardiac arrhythmias.” (Source
“The evidence in the literature suggests that subclinical magnesium deficiency is rampant and one of the leading causes of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease and early mortality around the globe, and should be considered a public health crisis.” (Source)
Due to soil depletion and poor nutritional choices many people do not meet the RDA (310-420mg) of magnesium. “Investigations of the macro- and micro-nutrient supply in Paleolithic nutrition of the former hunter/gatherer societies showed a magnesium uptake with the usual diet of about 600 mg magnesium/day…. In developed countries, the average intake of magnesium is slightly over 4 mg/kg/day.” (Source) That rate would mean that according to my weight I’m getting only 200mg a day.
Testing for magnesium deficiency is not so simple as 99% of magnesium in the body is intercellular mostly in muscles and bones. So a blood test won’t give us a true representation of the magnesium levels in the cells. Which adds to the problem of undetected deficiency.
Magnesium is dubbed by Dr. Hyman “the relaxation mineral.” Magnesium helps relax the body and the mind, leading to restful sleep. Magnesium is also needed for proper function of the GABA receptors in the brain, and this is a neurotransmitter that allows the brain to transition to a restful state.
Why foot cream?
Getting more magnesium is obviously a good idea in light of the information above. There are a few ways to do that: magnesium rich foods, magnesium supplement and topical magnesium.
Foods that are rich in magnesium include: Kelp, wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds, cashews, buckwheat, brazil nuts, dulse, filberts, millet, pecans, walnuts, rye, brown rice, figs, dates, collard greens, shrimp, avocado, parsley, beans, barley, dandelion greens, and garlic. (Source)
Magnesium supplements are also available they vary in quality and absorption. Dr. Hyman explains that “The most absorbable forms are magnesium citrate, glycinate taurate, or aspartate, although magnesium bound to Kreb cycle chelates (malate, succinate, fumarate) are also good.” (Source)
Topical magnesium delivery is one of the oldest forms of therapy for skin diseases, for example Dead Sea therapy and Epsom salt baths. (Source).
Some people find oral supplementation of magnesium to be irritating, and not all supplements are properly absorbed and can tax the kidneys. So topical creams can be used as another form of supplementation.
For children I find it difficult to use supplements and to find ones that are suitable for kids. Therefore I like using this magnesium cream to rub their feet before bed. It’s also getting two birds with one stone, my kids really love getting their feet rubbed before bed and it’s a great bonding experience for us. So sneaking in extra nourishment through the skin is just magical in my opinion!
As the magnesium is water soluble the foot rub is a lotion (an emulsion of water and oils) and not a salve (that is only oil based).
This recipe is also a very thick and nourishing lotion for the skin. Great for this time of year when our skin gets super dry.
Magnesium foot rub recipe:
1 tsp beeswax
½ cup shea butter
¼ cup boiling water
¼ cup magnesium flakes
⅛ tsp borax
12 drops lavender essential oil
Over double boiler melt wax and butter.
Mix water and magnesium flakes and borax until completely incorporated.
Remove oil phase from fire once melted and begin blending with immersion blender.
Slowly add water mixture and continue to blend until you get a white lotion, fully emulsified.
Add essential oil and mix.
Pour into a wide mouth jar.
This lotion will keep for a year or the date on your shea butter.