Tag Archives: anxiety

Magnesium: what is it & what does it do for you?

I regularly recommend my clients use magnesium, either in the form of a supplement, topical cream or oil, or as salts dissolved in a warm bath.

But what is magnesium, and what does it do for our body?

The Science


Magnesium is a chemical element. It is the fourth most common element on Earth, and the third most common dissolved in seawater. Magnesium is the eleventh most abundant element by mass in the human body and is essential to all cells and some 300 enzymes.

The important interaction between phosphate and magnesium ions makes magnesium essential to the basic nucleic acid chemistry of all cells of all known living organisms. More than 300 enzymes require magnesium ions for their catalytic action, including all enzymes using or synthesizing adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

Now I don’t want this to turn into a boring chemistry lecture, but ATP is a complex organic chemical that participates in many processes, including providing energy for nearly all of the body’s metabolic processes and muscular contraction. 20% of the body’s magnesium is for skeletal muscle function.[1]

Magnesium is also an imperative part in;

  • Nerve conduction
  • The production of energy from carbohydrates and fats
  • The production and maintenance of healthy bones, including the synthesis of bone matrix, bone mineral metabolism and the maintenance of bone density
  • Maintenance of healthy heart function and normal heart rhythm.[2]

Where can we source magnesium?

The Source

Nuts, Greens, Cocoa & Spices

Spices, nuts & seeds, cereals, cocoa (W00T!) and leafy green vegetables are rich sources of magnesium. [3]

Thankfully, if we are not getting enough magnesium in our diet, or are experiencing symptoms of magnesium deficiency alternative methods for magnesium intake is readily available.

Bath salts

Magnesium chloride

Magnesium chloride is extracted from seawater and is more readily absorbed through the skin than other forms of magnesium, so it’s perfect for bath salts. It is not for ingestion.

Magnesium sulfate

Magnesium sulfate is more commonly known as Epsom salts. A great source of magnesium and available in most supermarkets and chemists, Epsom salts have been popular since it was discovered in the British town it was named after, in the 17th century. [4]

Topical creams and oils

As both magnesium chloride and sulfate are absorbed through the skin, they make great topical applications and are available in creams and oils that can be rubbed directly on the sore or cramping muscle. Great for carrying in your sports or travel bag and cant get to a bath.

Topical spray, supplements, bath salts


Magnesium itself cannot be absorbed and needs to be bonded to another molecule to be absorbed. The most common bonding agents are oxide, citrate, glycinate, sulphate or amino acid chelate.

This is the least absorbed form, but also has one of the highest percentages of elemental magnesium per dose so it still may be the  highest absorbed dose per mg. This is a great general purpose magnesium if really Mg is all you need.  It makes a simple muscle relaxer, nerve tonic and laxative if you take a high dose.

This is one of the most common forms of Mg on the commercial market. This is Mg bonded to citric acid, which increases the rate of absorption. Citrate is a larger molecule than the simple oxygen of oxide, so there is less magnesium by weight than in the oxide form. This is the most commonly used form in laxative preparations.

In this form, Mg is bonded to the amino acid glycine. Glycine itself is a relaxing neurotransmitter and so enhances magnesium’s natural relaxation properties. This could be the best form if you’re using it for mental calm and relaxation.

Magnesium amino acid chelate is usually bonded to a variety of amino acids. In this form there is less magnesium by weight but the individual amino acids could all be beneficial for different things. Every formula is different so if you need both Mg and a particular amino acid, then this could be the way to go. [5]

Recommended daily intake of magnesium is;

  • 400 mg/day for men aged 19-30 years, increasing to 420 mg/day for those aged 31 and above,
  • For women aged 19-30 years, the RDI is 310 mg/day, increasing to 320 mg over the age of 30,
  • Depending on their age, the RDI for adult women who are pregnant is 350-360 mg/day.
  • The RDI for breastfeeding for those who are breastfeeding is 310-320 mg of magnesium each day. [6]

What happens if I don’t have enough magnesium?

The Symptoms

If you’re not getting enough magnesium in your diet then you may be experiencing symptoms such as;

  • Muscular cramp

    Muscular problems such as cramps, twitches, slow to recover from injury, aches and pains,

  • Fibromyalgia is sometimes linked to magnesium deficiency,
  • Migraines and headaches, including tension headaches,
  • Period pain and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, including mood swings , fluid retention, premenstrual migraines,
  • Stress, irritability, insomnia and anxiety,
  • Fatigue, which may be a symptom of magnesium deficiency.

It may also play a role in helping to maintain cardiovascular health and healthy bone density.

What could be causing my magnesium deficiency?

The Seed

  • Stress (especially when prolonged or severe),
  • Inadequate sleep,
  • Profuse perspiration,
  • Excessive consumption of caffeine, salt, sugar and alcohol,
  • Heavy menstrual periods,
  • Eating large quantities of processed and refined foods,
  • The use of some multiple pharmaceutical medications,
  • Gastrointestinal disorders such as short-term diarrhoea or vomiting and conditions that affect your absorption of nutrients,
  • Getting older. [7]

Can I have too much magnesium?

Doses less than 350 mg daily are safe for most adults. When taken in very large amounts, magnesium is possibly unsafe.

Symptoms of magnesium overdose include;

  • diarrhea
  • nausea and vomiting
  • lethargy
  • muscle weakness
  • irregular heartbeat
  • low blood pressure
  • urine retention
  • respiratory distress
  • cardiac arrest. [8]


The best way to ensure you’re getting enough magnesium is to maintain a healthy diet of whole foods and steer clear of processed and refined foods. If you are getting regular cramps or muscular pain it might be a good idea to get some advice from your physical therapist.

Maintaining muscular health can be as easy as regular gentle exercise and stretching, fresh air and water each day, a 20 minute magnesium bath a week, some leafy greens and nuts in your diet and regular massage.

If you think you have a serious magnesium deficiency you should consult your doctor.


Have you ever used magnesium? How did it work for you?

Condition in Review: Panic Attacks and Anxiety

According to Beyond Blue, up to 40% of Australians will experience some kind of panic attack or panic disorder in their lifetime and up to 45% of Australians will suffer from some sort of mental illness. In any one year, around 1 million Australian adults have depression, and over 2 million have anxiety. (viewed 27/1/16, https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts)

What are panic attacks and anxiety?
Breslin defines panic attacks as “an episode of panic often accompanied by sweating, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, dizziness, feelings of unreality, fear of dying etc. usually as a symptom of mental illness or psychological disturbance” (Breslin M et al 2007 p. 266) and
anxiety as “apprehension and fear manifested as palpitations, sweating, tension and stress”. (Breslin M et al 2007 p. 27)

What causes panic attacks and anxiety?

There a number of factors contributing to the risk of developing panic attacks and anxiety;
Genetic factors – high levels of anxiety and anxiety disorders as such are generally not inherited, however what can be inherited is a general sensibility or learned behaviours
Physical factors – high intake of caffeine, nicotine, and using stimulant drugs such as LSD, cocaine, amphetamines and marijuana have been seen to increase anxiety in a person who has predisposition to it; withdrawal from drugs; poor nutrition; muscle tension are also contributing factors
Environmental factors – childhood experiences, cumulative stress, adverse life events or major loss or life changes such as exposure to abuse, loss of job or loved one
Behavioural factors – avoidance, recreational drugs, poor nutrition, lack of exercise
Physiological factors – negative, unrealistic & irrational thinking; unhealthy beliefs; types of beliefs (good and evil, dread, guilt)
•A combination of the above factors3

What are the signs and symptoms of a panic attack?
“Common somatic symptoms are facial flushing, hyperhydrosis (excessive sweating), muscle tension, parenthesis (numbness and tingling), shallow (or rapid) breathing, syncope (fainting) and tachycardia (rapid heart rate).

The emotional symptoms of anxiety disorder occur simultaneously with the somatic ones and include agitation, derealisation (feelings of unreality), fearfulness, feelings of ‘impending doom’, irritability, nervousness and shyness” (Prosy J., 2006, P. 15)

“I was unable to attend my children’s school concerts or take them to the pictures as I would have panic attacks…”

What is the treatment for panic attacks and anxiety?

Everyone’s experience of anxiety and panic attacks is as individual as the person. Treatment will be different for everyone, whether it be psychological, medical or other types of support it needs to be understood that treatment takes time and often a lot of trial and error before finding the right balance.

Treatment needs to be tailored to your condition, circumstances, needs and preferences. Most people with anxiety benefit from one or a combination of the following:

  • lifestyle changes and social support
  • psychological or ‘talking’ therapies
  • medical therapies

Can massage help?

“Relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, and biofeedback are often taught to anxiety disorder patients as coping mechanisms; it seems reasonable that massage and bodywork would fit under this heading as well. Indeed, several research projects under way have shown that touch in general and massage in particular are effective in reducing self-reported anxiety in various populations.” (Werner R., 2009, P. 258)

“Positive changes have been noted in biochemistry following massage therapy including reduced cortisol and increased serotonin and dopamine. Many conditions were positively affected by massage therapy including depression and depression-related conditions, pain syndromes, autoimmune and immune chronic illnesses, and stress conditions. The underlying mechanisms for their effects remain to be understood.”5

“Standard medical treatments include cognitive behavioural therapy, pharmacologic therapies, or a combination of both. Natural therapies include treating anxiety with nutrition, vitamins (such as B-3 and B-12), minerals and amino acids.” (Prousky J., 2006, p25) Referral to a clinical psychologist is usual, but a naturopath or nutritionist could also be beneficial.


Everyone’s different and it’s often a combination of factors that can contribute to developing anxiety. It’s important to remember that you can’t always identify the cause of anxiety or change difficult circumstances. The most important thing is to recognise the signs and symptoms and seek support.

If you or someone you know is suffering from anxiety please contact Beyond Blue to get the correct support you need. https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/who-can-assist


1. Breskin M., Dumith K., Pearsons E., Seeman R., 2007, McGraw-Hill Medical Dictionary for Allied Health, Career Education, New York
2. http://anxietyhelp.com.au/causes.html
3. http://massage-therapy-benefits.net/anxiety-disorders
4. Prosy, Dr. J., 2006, Anxiety; Orthomolecular Diagnosis and Treatment, tri-graphic Printing, Ottawa
5. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00207450590956459
6. https://www.beyondblue.org.au/

What is Fibromyalgia and how can massage help?

What is fibromyalgia?

The Collins dictionary defines fibromyalgia as a chronic condition characterized by pain, tenderness, and stiffness of the muscles and joints along with fatigue and anxiety.

It is often accompanied along with various other syndromes such as chronic fatigue, irritable bowel, anxiety disorders and various other autoimmune disorders.

How do you get fibromyalgia?
How fibromyalgia is developed is still largely unknown but is believed to be a combination of psychological, genetic, neurobiological and environmental factors. Sufferers experience no stage IV sleep, fatigue, pain, and tender points especially around the neck, shoulders & back.

What are the signs and symptoms?
Widespread, shifting pain patterns; deep ache to burning & tingling, tender points in 9 predictable pairs, stiffness after rest, poor stamina, high sensitivity, low pain threshold to all of the senses.

The location of the nine paired tenlder points.

The location of the nine paired tender points.

How is fibromyalgia treated?
Education and lifestyle management are the only current treatments of fibromyalgia; High nutrition, sleep management, gentle exercise, stretching,  relaxation and emotional stability.

Massage is a supportive treatment to aid in relaxation, sleep & depression, and maybe some temporary pain reduction. Only gentle techniques such as manual lymphatic drainage, Swedish, shiatsu, & stretching should be used to avoid triggering or incurring any further pain. Reflexology is indicated, short light sessions, focus on lymphatic, thalamus & solar plexus.2

1. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fibromyalgia#2010_provisional_criteria