October 21, 2011
In the audio podcast episode with Dr. Mark Sircus, entitled: “The Shocking Information About A Compound That Pharmaceutical Companies Really Don’t Want You to Know About“, I reveal information about a therapy so simple, so elegant and so natural that it just can’t be patented and sold for millions of dollars. Dr. Sircus goes way beyond mainstream medicine, and that episode is really worth a listen.
But this week, I also read the book “Transdermal Magnesium Therapy”, which was written by Dr. Sircus. When I got to the section on sports medicine and athletic performance, I became completely absorbed in the research and studies citing topical magnesium oil and magnesium bath flakes as huge sports performance and workout recovery aids.
Which is precisely why I've been slathering my body with spray-on magnesium oil after every hard workout.
And which is also why I asked Dr. Sircus if I could re-print that chapter in it's entirety here on the website. He graciously agreed, but I need to warn you: to get a full idea of all the inner workings of transdermal magnesium therapy, you should read the book too.
Now before I reveal this chapter, let me also be clear about one thing: I use the brand of Magnetic Clay magnesium oil and flakes made by Ancient Minerals. I do this because this stuff does not have the heavy metals in it that most other brands do. If you click on that link to buy the stuff that I use, they will pay me a commission.
Just wanted to be open about that relationship.
OK, now here's the interesting stuff. Grab a glass of kombucha, tea, Natural Calm magnesium citrate, or whatever is your health beverage of choice, and join me to learn about magnesium, sports performance and recovery:
How Magnesium Works For Sports Performance
Magnesium is clearly essential though still misunderstood and underused by the vast majority of practicing sports physicians, trainers, and coaches whose clear dedication is to the athletes themselves and their performance.
ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the main source of energy in cells, must be bound to a magnesium ion in order to be biologically active. What is called ATP is often actually Mg-ATP. This is vitally important to the athlete who needs 110 percent outputs from their mitochondria during performance.
Little is it known that bicarbonate ions act as afterburners, thrusting the magnesium into the mitochondria, so when we combine magnesium therapy with bicarbonate we gain in cellular performance. The use of magnesium for athletic performance can make the difference between winning and losing on a regular basis, thus magnesium nutrition is an area that no serious athlete or sports medicine practitioner can afford to overlook.
Why Magnesium Deficiency Is A Serious Issue For The Athlete
Despite magnesium’s pivotal role in energy production and sports performance, many coaches and athletes remain critically unaware of its critical importance in maintaining health and performance. Research suggests that even small shortfalls in magnesium intake can seriously impair athletic performance.
Nielsen, F.H., Lukaski, H.C. 2006. Update on the relationship between magnesium and exercise. Magnesium Research. 19(3): 180-189. Technical Abstract: Magnesium is involved in numerous processes that affect muscle function including oxygen uptake, energy production and electrolyte balance. Thus, the relationship between magnesium status and exercise has received significant research attention. This research has shown that exercise induces a redistribution of magnesium in the body to accommodate metabolic needs. There is evidence that marginal magnesium deficiency impairs exercise performance and amplifies the negative consequences of strenuous exercise (e.g., oxidative stress). Strenuous exercise apparently increases urinary and sweat losses that may increase magnesium requirements by 10-20%. Based on dietary surveys and recent human experiments, a magnesium intake less than 260 mg/day for male and 220 mg/day for female athletes may result in a magnesium-deficient status. Recent surveys also indicate that a significant number of individuals routinely have magnesium intakes that may result in a deficient status.
Athletes participating in sports desiring weight control (e.g., wrestling, gymnastics) apparently are especially vulnerable to an inadequate magnesium status. Magnesium supplementation or increased dietary intake of magnesium will have beneficial effects on exercise performance by magnesium-deficient individuals. Magnesium supplementation of physically active individuals with adequate magnesium status has not been shown to enhance physical performance.
An activity-linked RNI or RDA based on long-term balance data from well-controlled human experiments should be determined so that physically active individuals can ascertain whether they have a magnesium intake that may affect their performance or enhance their risk to adverse health consequences (e.g., immunosuppression, oxidative damage, arrhythmias).
Magnesium deficiency reduces metabolic efficiency, increases oxygen consumption and heart rate required to perform work, all things that would take the edge off of athletic performance (not to mention carrying out the functions of normal life).
The last thing any trainer or sports doctor wants to see is their athletes lose their competitive edge.
Not performing to full capacity because of the lack of a mineral like magnesium is simply not an option for winners. Athletic endurance and strength performance increases significantly when a large amount of magnesium is supplemented transdermally/topically and orally. A magnesium shortfall can cause a partial uncoupling of the respiratory chain, increasing the amount of oxygen required to maintain ATP production.
Athletes, who might be expected to take greater care with their diets, are not immune to magnesium deficiency. Studies carried out in 1986/87 revealed that gymnasts, football and basketball players were consuming only around 70 percent of the RDA, while the intake of female track and field athletes was even lower, as low as 59 percent of the RDA.
Evidence shows that a magnesium shortfall boosts the energy cost, and hence oxygen use, of exercise during activities like running or cycling.
One study of male athletes supplemented with 390 mg of magnesium per day for 25 days resulted in an increased peak oxygen uptake and total work output during work capacity tests.
It is commonly thought that magnesium intakes above the RDA are unlikely to boost performance, but there is no evidence to support this assertion. First, RDAs are almost universally understated, even for the general population, representing bare minimums that should be taken for the maintenance of health. For athletes, RDAs are guides for failure since they do not take into account the extra demands and needs of an athlete’s body.
When it comes to magnesium, an athlete should be thinking many times the RDA if he or she wishes to maximize athletic performance. Having an adequate store of this vital, natural mineral will ensure total system availability, without the downside of using synthetic agents such as steroids that create physiological imbalances.
What To Expect When You Use Magnesium
Maximal contraction of the quadriceps is positively correlated to serum magnesium status.
Studies have shown that dietary supplementation with 30 mg of zinc and 450 mg of magnesium daily can elevate testosterone levels up to 30 percent. Dr. Lorrie Brilla, at Western Washington University, recently reported that magnesium and zinc, when supplemented orally, significantly increase free testosterone levels and muscle strength in NCAA football players.
In another study, young athletes supplemented with 8 mg of magnesium per kilo of body weight per day, experienced significant increases in endurance performance and decreased oxygen consumption during standardized, sub-maximal exercise.
Dr. Brilla reported that during an eight-week spring training program athletes had 2.5 times greater muscle strength gains than a placebo group.
Any athlete looking to gain strength, increase athletic performance, and muscle mass should consider greatly increasing their magnesium intake, as well as zinc. Muscle endurance and total work capacity, declines with nutritional deficiency of magnesium and zinc.
“Magnesium is essential to a diet for people who are under a lot of stress or want to experience the ultimate rush,” says Dr. James Thor, National Director of Extreme Sports Medicine. “Several reasons, one is if you are working out in a gym, or continual stress excessive amounts of lactic acid in the muscle have been linked to higher levels of anxiety,” Dr. Thor adds.
Large amounts of magnesium are lost when a person is under stress. The combination of heat and magnesium chloride increases circulation and waste removal, and this principle can be applied during breaks in competition as well as after the game in deeply relaxing baths similar to Epsom salt baths, but much stronger. A magnesium chloride bath helps draw inflammation out of the muscles and joints. Dr. Mark Steckel recommends a hot bath with Epsom salts after a long run when the muscles are just aching. He also recommends soaking once a week “as a treat to your legs, just to keep them happy!”
Switching to magnesium chloride will amplify this effect.
Transdermal magnesium chloride mineral therapy enhances recovery from athletic activity or injuries.
“Various nutrients have been shown to exert pharmacological effects, which are in many cases dependent on the concentration of the nutrient,” reports Dr. Alan R. Gaby.
The FDA is not comfortable with this assertion though they have been forced, via recent court victories against them, to stop sending out their swat teams against farmers and everyone else who claim their foods have medicinal effects. In the world of sports medicine, nutrient therapy can mean the difference between winning and losing and between health and injury. Besides attitude and training, nothing affects athletic performance like an athlete’s nutritional profile, because nutrients are the foundation of cellular function.
How To Get More Magnesium
Dr. Gaby presents the following case:
Case #11: An 18-year-old, 235-pound high school wrestler developed a flu-like illness four days before a major tournament. Two days before the three-day tournament, when it appeared he might have to miss the event, he was given an IV injection of 16 mL vitamin C, 5 mL magnesium, 2.5 mL calcium, and 1 mL each of B12, B6, B5, and B complex. The next morning he remarked that he had more energy than he had ever had in his life. This energy boost persisted for the duration of the tournament, at which he took second place, a better performance than at any other time in his career.
In this era in which many athletes are using performance-enhancing drugs, it is not the author’s intention to encourage athletes to seek another “boost” with IV nutrients. However, this case does demonstrate that nutritional factors can play an important role in athletic performance.
The composition of the above IV formula was based on what was known as the famous Myers cocktail whose contents was not exactly recorded. The point above is not necessarily about the specific nutrients nor the method of application but it is certainly clear that nutritional medicine is hugely more beneficial to athletes than pharmaceutical preparations will ever be.
Intravenous administration of nutrients can achieve serum concentrations not obtainable with oral or even intramuscular (IM) administration, Dr. Gaby asserts, but if one adds transdermal application with oral then we are in the same ballpark as an IV unless we are in an emergency situation.
The pharmacological effects of nutrients are highly dependent on the concentration of the nutrient and it is true that we can raise concentrations strongly with IVs, but we can do the same by combining oral methods of administration with intense transdermal applications that flood nutrients into the body through all the pours in the skin for intense systemic effect.
We are introducing an entirely new way of approaching optimal performance levels through the application of specific nutrients in high concentrations. In our new form of sports medicine we are also working to avoid sports injuries as well as treat them when they do occur with something the sports world has long been waiting for.
There are some fundamental questions that should be asked of any proposed approach to sports medicine.
Does it do what it claims it will do?
What are the benefits?
What are the risks?
What are the alternatives?
Usually in medicine the truth is complicated, but complications are the last thing athletes and their trainers want or need. What we promise is easily confirmed by individual athletes and their doctors and coaches; you will find in these pages testimonials from athletes who have been open enough to try something new.
We offer a smorgasbord of benefits with close to zero risk and for a thousand years there will not be any alternatives because we are concentrating the basics of life itself into a formula that will super-charge athletic performance. Just as there will never be an alternative to proper breathing, there will never be an alternative to essential nutrients like magnesium, bicarbonate, and iodine.
What we promise is an increase in oxygen-carrying capacity and supercharged mitochondrial function.
In addition, red blood cells will become healthier, cell walls more permeable, cellular waste removal amplified, tissues more flexible, and general pH heightened. Vitally important for the athlete is detoxification and actual chelation of heavy metals and other dangerous toxic chemicals from the tissues.
Sports physicians should know that the danger of dying in sports competitions is augmented by increases in mercury contamination in the heart tissues. But they don’t teach athletes how to remove the mercury or better yet how to avoid mercury contamination in the first place.
Athletes should never take the yearly flu shots that contain mercury, and for sure they should never allow a dentist to put mercury fillings in their mouths if they want to avoid the possibility of sudden death during performance. Any and all kinds of heavy metal accumulation will hurt cellular respiration as well as oxygen-carrying capacity.
There are many things that you can do to improve your athletic performance.
One of the most basic ways to improve your performance is through proper diet and dietary supplements, which can, when used appropriately add rocket fuel to your mitochondria and help reduce acid buildup thus reducing fatigue. When it comes to game day, you want to make sure that your body has the access to all of the nutrients and energy it needs to perform as efficiently as possible and this can be accomplished in the most proficient way with certain key nutrients.
Magnesium and bicarbonate are the most important minerals to sports nutrition. Their use for athletic performance can make the difference between winning and losing and between sickness and health thus no serious athlete or sports medicine practitioner can afford to overlook these mineral salts.
When magnesium is deficient, things begin to die, but when our body’s magnesium levels are topped off, our body physiology tends to hum along like a racecar yielding higher performance along many physiological parameters. Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) facilitates the removal of hydrogen ions from the muscle cell so as to help maintain the muscle cell near its optimal pH for enzyme functions and energy production.
The pH in the muscle cells is slightly alkaline while at rest. Normally, it is at this level that enzymes that produce energy via the lactic acid and oxygen energy systems perform at their optimum. As the concentration of hydrogen ions and acidity increases in the muscle cells optimal functioning of enzymes will be disturbed and energy production will decrease. Fatigue results because of increased acid production within the muscle cell when the lactic acid energy system is used during high intensity exercise.
During rest and exercise, proteins within the muscle cell help to buffer metabolic acids. But beyond the initial buffering in the cell, during exercise, the lactic acid produced appears to be buffered almost entirely by the sodium bicarbonate in the blood. Our body produces and uses plain old baking soda to protect its blood from acidity.
Only a few top coaches and sports doctors understand and have mastered the use of magnesium, bicarbonate, and other minerals like potassium and calcium. The word few is used literally here for we are staking entirely new ground in sports medicine introducing not only transdermal magnesium therapy but also bicarbonate bath therapy, which bypasses all the gastrointestinal problems some athletes have when ingesting bicarbonate orally.
Magnesium, Heavy Exercise & Sweating
When we sweat, we lose more than just water. Other components of sweat include electrolytes, principally sodium and magnesium. Loss of magnesium by sweating takes place at an accelerated pace when there is a failure in sweat homeostasis, a situation, which arises when exercise is made in conditions of damp atmosphere and high temperature.
In reality a quartet of electrolytes play a critical role in muscle function and other biochemical processes. The loss of sodium is by far the most substantial and well-studied but the loss of and replacement of potassium, calcium and magnesium are also of supreme importance because over time all are lost through sweat.
Dr. Sarah Myhill says, “Heavy exercise also makes you lose magnesium in the urine and this explains why long distance runners may suddenly drop dead with heart arrhythmias.” Magnesium depletion and deficiency play a role in the pathophysiology of physical exercise.
Sports Injuries & Transdermal Magnesium Therapy
Transdermal magnesium chloride mineral therapy enhances recovery from athletic activity or injuries.
Injury is an almost inevitable part of an athlete’s life. It may take the form of an acute ligament tear or be as mild as post-exercise muscle soreness. Either way, the majority of sports related injuries can be prevented or alleviated. It is not uncommon to hear of an athlete suffering a sports injury. Generally when a star athlete is injured, the injury becomes headline news.
And the public waits anxiously to hear any news on the condition of the player. Every athlete gets injured from time to time; it’s part of the courage and discipline of athletes to endure and a challenge to their spirits to remain positive and optimistic about their return to full performance.
When an athlete gets injured they want top quality care that is at the leading edge of sports medicine. If you are like most athletes, you want to heal naturally from your injury and do so in record time without having to resort to drugs or surgery. There is no greater way to accomplish this then employing transdermal medicine using magnesium chloride and sodium bicarbonate.
Dr. Jeff Schutt says that hamstring injuries can be avoided through nutritional support because contraction and relaxation are dependent on adequate cellular levels of magnesium.
“A shortened hamstring is a result of lack of available magnesium,” he says. Liquid magnesium chloride can be simply sprayed and rubbed into a sore Achilles tendon to decrease swelling. And soaking the feet in a magnesium chloride footbath is the single best thing—apart from stretching—that you can do to protect yourself from or recover from hamstring and other injuries.
As already explained, oral magnesium is not easily absorbed and at high doses creates diarrhea. Thus taking magnesium orally offers little to athletes while transdermal application opens up an entirely new universe to athletes as well as their coaches and doctors.
A whole new world of sports medicine is going to explode when athletes and coaches find out that magnesium chloride from natural sources is available for topical use.
Magnesium & Sports Massage
Having one’s massage therapist use the magnesium oil is Nirvana for athletes.
Sports massage is excellent as a pre-event rubdown or for post-event recovery to sooth the aches and pains caused by physical exertion. A restorative or rehabilitative sports massage during training helps the athlete train harder or nurse a sports injury back to health. Imagine if magnesium oil is used instead of massage oils how much more dramatic will be the results.
Massage has been used for thousands of years and in recent decades has re-emerged as an accepted method to enhance the physical, physiological, and psychological wellbeing of athletes. Magnesium sports massage increases flexibility and muscle tone and therefore reduces the risk of injury.
Other benefits are:
breakdown of scar tissue after injury, improved blood circulation and oxygenation, and providing general relaxation and reduced stress. Athletes recovering from injuries will find that magnesium massage will speed up their return to competition. Even non-athletes, people who are active either through work or “play,” tend to become hurt or sore. These individuals are in need of a massage modality that will enable them to maintain their active lifestyle and recover faster.
A magnesium sports massage on a regular basis will assist with the body’s natural recovery process, thus speeding up healing as well as helping to prevent future injuries for those sore and stiff muscles.
A typical treatment of sports injuries includes massage, gentle rhythmical movements (harmonics), stretching, and articulatory and manipulative techniques. Emphasis is placed on increasing the range of movement, decreasing muscle tension, and improving circulation of the blood vessels and lymphatic system. The effect of this is to decrease swelling and pain, thereby enhancing the body’s self-healing process.
Note: Always apply magnesium oil before touching or putting ice on an injury. The first thing we want rushing to any area of pain and inflammation is magnesium. Magnesium is the single most important mineral to sports nutrition. Adequate magnesium levels will help an athlete’s body against fatigue, heat exhaustion, blood sugar control, and metabolism. It also offers part of the secret why athletes often die young—magnesium levels in tissue analysis of athletes who have heart attacks are usually very low while mercury levels are often very high.
You'll see some sections in there where Dr. Sircus talks about baking soda too. He has some interesting thoughts about this, but I'm not going to give away the farm. Just read his book.
Three other good magnesium resources are:
-a search for “magnesium” in the upper right corner of BenGreenfieldFitness.com
–these products by a company called Natural Vitality, which bases all it's supplements on magnesium
If you have any questions, comments, or feedback, then leave them below.