The People's Perspective on Medicine

Magnesium to Fight Depression

Q. Please tell your readers that taking moderate amounts of a magnesium supplement can alleviate depression. I have personally had good results taking magnesium aspartate, oxide or citrate salts, at a dose of at least 400 mg of magnesium a day.

Last year my girlfriend had a friend who was suffering from major depression and had to go on disability from her teaching job as a result. She was under medical care, but still having a lot of difficulties. After we gave her a big bottle of magnesium oxide tablets, she started to recover. She’s doing much better now and is back to teaching and going out and doing things.

I can’t think of another treatment that is so cheap, simple and safe.

A. There is science to back you up. An epidemiological study found a link between low magnesium levels and symptoms of depression in Norway (Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, Jan. 2009). An experiment in Mexico found that magnesium worked as well as the antidepressant drug imipramine to relieve depression in elderly people with type 2 diabetes (Magnesium Research, Dec., 2008).

A review suggests that inadequate magnesium reduces the amount of the neurochemical serotonin in the brain (Medical Hypotheses, April, 2010). The authors believe that magnesium treatment might help many people with depression, including those like your acquaintance with treatment-resistant depression.

At too high a dose, magnesium causes diarrhea. People with kidney disease must avoid supplements of this mineral.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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So, I should have my magnesium level checked at my doctor? I am type 2 diabetic, osteoarthritis of spine, chronic insomnia and depression. Currently on gabapentin but am reducing my dosages to stop. Could magnesium help me?

I have taken anti depressants my entire adult life, but wanted to get off of them so I quit taking them about 9 months ago. I have started moving more, and that has helped, but I have recently started taking magnesium and that has made the most noticeable difference in my mood. It is as if that dull constant sadness has lifted. I do hope this continues for the long haul.

So magnesium treats depression… Never had a clue about this…
Thanks for your article ! Good Information.
Merry Xmas !

My question is this: This sounds like a great way to avoid another pill, but has it been proven that magnesium is absorbed through the skin and then is available in a form that the body can use?

I agree. I suffer from depression now and then and find that I can recover from it faster when I’m taking a magnesium/calcium supplement.

Flaxseed oil is also available in the vitamin section at Walmart. I just saw it today!

According to Dr Michael Lyon’s book “Healing the Hyperactive Brain”, magnesium is essential for over 300 metabolic functions, so if we’re deficient, it could result in many health issues. His book also mentioned that magnesium combined with Omega 3 results in DHA, the substance that actually fuels the brain.
Using myself as guinea pig, I began using it just as a hand cream in the morning. I noticed that my memory seemed to be sharper. With that in mind, I started applying it all the way up my arms. It got rid of the “dry elbows” fairly quickly. Another thing I noticed, is that the “pinching” feeling when my upper arms were massaged dissipated. The gal who did monthly chair massages at our office thought that the oils probably were penetrating and lubricating the fascia.
I mostly use it on my hands, arms, face and feet. It penetrates fairly quickly. My sister massages it on her kids’ back, feet and legs. They have ADD, ADHD and autistic tendencies. She said they sleep better and seem to have less problems concentrating at school.
I’m not sure exactly how it all works together, but all the ingredients are at the grocery store. My costs are approximately:
$6.00 for 16 oz of Moomtaz Coconut Oil (at an Asian grocery in Seattle)
$7.99 for 16 oz Flaxseed Oil at Trader Joes
$1.00 for 12 oz Milk of Magnesia at the Dollar Store

This sounds great as I am looking for an all purpose skin cream without petrochemicals. I can’t wait to try it. Does the magnesium absorb through the skin or are the mental benefits from consuming this recipe?
Please Advise! Thank you for the information. Working on getting off all the useless traditional medications that are not helping my migraines, neuropathy, IBS, acid reflux, skin rashes, thyroid problems, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, etc. I am loving this website!

If you re-read bloomergal’s writeup again, you’ll see that items 3-5 state what is helps, skin eruptions, rough skin, etc, and it absorbs well, she says. YOU RUB IT ON
YOUR SKIN!! It’s a “body butter”, as she calls it, and I think it’s a pretty ingenious
invention. I can see Joe produce this “body butter”, just like he did the MOM deo stick.

That’s more great news for this often-neglected mineral. You can also use the Epsom (magnesium sulfate) salts in your bathtub, if you don’t want to take the tablets. I have heard that the oxide form is less easily absorbed by the body, so you might want to look for the glycinate or taurate forms if you can find them. It’s also a great supplement for heart and lung health, and relaxing muscles, so it’s recommended to take before you go to bed. And read Carolyn Dean’s ‘The Miracle of Magnesium’ for more information (she has a great free newsletter too).

My original thought was for a transdermal delivery system for magnesium, to avoid digestive upsets and bad tastes that my sister’s kids would reject.
It can be used anywhere on the body and absorbs quite quickly. My sister gives her kids back rubs and foot massages with it. Unless there is a specific allergy to any of the ingredients, it’s non-toxic so it can be used anywhere as all the ingredients come from the grocery store!
I expect it would be good for excema. Years ago my sister’s dermatologist advised her to use plain MOM on her face to treat rosacea. She said it cleared up her problem in about a week. If you have oily skin, you may want to use the plain MOM to avoid the coconut & flaxseed oils.
Another way to get a quick magnesium boost is to dissolve Epsom Salts in boiling water. Let it cool and put in a spray bottle. Then spray your body with the “mist” setting. It’s very refreshing on a hot day!

Question, where do you apply it? anywhere on the body? thank you.

This is very interesting. I knew something I was taking was very effective for depression, but thought it was the flaxseed. Perhaps it’s the magnesium (which I realized only after starting it for bone health that I must have been sorely deficient–lots of good benefits ensued–symptoms I had lived with and pretty much ignored for decades). I am loathe to ever do without it now.

I wonder if this would be helpful for my grandson’s eczema?

This sound interesting since my daughter (who has a nonverbal Learning Disability) is being treated for depression and is resisting treatment. I am puzzled as to what one does with this recipe. Is it to be consumed or rubbed into the skin? Would really like a response. Thanks

When I learned that magnesium deficiency is common in people with ADD/ADHD as well as many diabetics, I came up with a transdermal “body butter” recipes that works wonders for me and my sister’s family— I make it up in batches to keep a number of us supplied. The ingredients are inexpensive: Coconut Oil, Flaxseed Oil and Milk of Magnesia
(I expect Joe will have a comment on the ratio’s of ingredients. The ratios are basically 2 parts coconut oil to 1.5 parts MOM to 1 part Flaxseed oil — I’m open to any suggestions to improve this)
1. Pour a small bottle of Milk of Magnesia through a cone style coffee filter to get rid of the watery stuff and collect the thick magnesia residue on the paper cone. (I recently found MOM at the Dollar Store)
2. Put a container of solidified Coconut Oil in a bowl of hot water to melt it. If the weather is warm, just sit it out in the sun and it will melt on its own. ( some international grocery stores stock it for as low as $4.00 per 22 oz)It costs between $6.00 -$11.00 per pint in health food depts.
3. Combine 1 cup melted Coconut oil, 3/4 cups MOM residue and 1/2 cup Flaxseed Oil and mix about 15-30 seconds with a hand-held blender.
It seizes up into a soft custardy-margarine like consistency that absorbs quickly into the skin. Put it in small clean lidded containers, either glass jars or tupperware. It melts in warm weather so we keep it in the fridge.
Some of the benefits we’ve noticed:
1. improved mood and memory.
2. seems to reduce tendency to sunburn
3. Softens rough elbows and scaly skin.
4. Tends to tighten loose skin
5. Tends to help heal rashy skin eruptions
I hope this helps!

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