May 28, 2009
Introduction: In this podcast episode: The shocking information that pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to know, transdermal magnesium therapy and how to improve your mitochondrial density.
Ben: Welcome back to the www.bengreenfieldfitness.com podcast. You know, every once in a while, I come across some type of exercise technique or nutritional compound that I get very excited about and this happens to be one of those times. Today I’m going to introduce to you an entirely natural and incredibly inexpensive compound that is all around you and that could be used to vastly improve sports performance. I really truly believe that a whole new world of sports medicine and sports performance is going to explode on to the scene when athletes and coaches discover this 100% natural and 100% legal compound that they could be using. Today you are going to become an expert on it and when you finish listening to this show, you’ll know everything that you need to know about it. This is going to be one of the most exciting podcasts that we’ve put out in quite some time. Now the other things we’re going to go over on this show is a great question on mitochondrial density and also fat utilization during exercise. Before we get on to our special interview for this week as well as our Listener Q and A, however, I do have just a few special announcements.
Ben: This week’s Listener Q and A comes from Listener Al.
Al asks: Is there value in training hard after depleting a third or more of your glycogen stores to improve mitochondrial density.
Ben: That’s part one of his question. And part two of his question is…
Al asks: Can one train his or her body to preferentially utilize fats at race pace?
Ben answers: Now for those of you who are not triathletes or those of you who do not race, the question to answer two is still going to be relevant because essentially what Al is asking is can you teach your body how to burn more fat during exercise. I’m going to answer question two first because it strikes close to home as just yesterday in my lab I was doing an exercise metabolic test on a father and his son. And what the metabolic test allows me to see is how much carbohydrate and how much fat someone is using during exercise specifically during a graded exercise test that starts easy and gradually gets harder. What I observed was that the son who was a soccer player – kind of very on off, start stop interval based sport – during the course of the test which took place on a bicycle, he was actually cycling between carbohydrate and fat utilization at a very regular up, down rate and so if you looked at his graph of total calories utilized, he would jump up and use a bunch of carbs and then he would jump down off of carbs and use more fat, up on carbs, down on fat and that’s a very classic profile of someone who has done a lot of interval based training, or specifically solely almost interval based training. In other words, somebody who’s not necessarily aerobically trained, but has done of a lot of hard easy efforts the same way that someone would train for soccer. Now his dad’s carbohydrate fat profile was very long and steady and generally a mix of fat and carbohydrates without that cycle up and down between fat and carbohydrates. Now, everybody burns a mix of fat and carbs while they’re exercising. But we can see from this example that one person had trained their body to jump back and forth by doing intervals and one person had trained their body to basically settle into a certain percentage of carbohydrate and fat utilization. In this case, he was at about I believe 30% carbohydrate, 70% fat. Now what you can do if you want your body to preferentially utilize fats when you’re exercising is you can include as part of your training, longer slower exercise sessions at your peak fat burning heart rate. If you don’t know what your peak fat burning heart rate is, you can approximate it. It’s usually about 50 to 60% of your maximum heart rate. You can also get it tested at a physiology laboratory where you can find out exactly the heart rate at which you’re burning the highest number of fat calories. Now, if you’re doing these long slow sessions at your fat burning heart rate, I would caution you because they’re not going to burn a lot of calories and they’re not going to build a lot of fitness. What they will do however is teach your body how to utilize fats a little bit more effectively. When I write out programs for people who are trying to lose fat, we generally prioritize what I call metabolic resistance training circuits or weight lifting that’s done at a little bit higher intensity. We prioritize cardiovascular intervals because those elevate the metabolic rate just a little bit more. But we include these fat burning sessions in one of two ways. We’ll either do two to three long 45 to 60 minutes fat burning sessions during the week or else everyday in the morning when the liver’s carbohydrate stores are empty and you can actually jump start to those fat burning enzymes a little bit easier. We’ll do 20 to 30 minutes of fat burning exercise prior to breakfast on an empty stomach or in a fasted state. So those are a couple ways that you could actually get the body to burn fat just a little bit more preferentially during exercise and I generally see when highly aerobically trained athletes such as an Ironman triathlete come into my lab for testing that those people are generally utilizing fats very effectively or put in another way, conserving their body’s carbohydrate stores just a little bit more effectively.
So the first part of Al’s question was is there value in training hard after depleting a third or more of your glycogen stores to improve mitochondrial density. Ok, I know that’s a mouthful. Essentially what he’s asking is if you burn through your body’s carbohydrate stores on purpose – basically deplete your body’s carbohydrate stores and then go out and do an exercise session that is hard, can you improve your mitochondrial density? Well let’s go ahead and look at what mitochondria are and what type of training has been shown in research to actually improve your mitochondrial density or the number of the mitochondria that are actually in your muscles. The basic idea behind mitochondria is they’re tiny microscopic parts of your cell. And they’re the parts of your cell where aerobic energy production actually takes place. And what aerobic energy production is, is it’s the use of oxygen – when you breathe in oxygen, the mitochondria use that oxygen to actually create essentially a gradient that converts energy or makes energy from something called ATP. So basically oxygen plus ATP equals energy. Essentially the mitochondria use the oxygen to split a molecule of ATP in your body. So what a mitochondria is it’s called an organelle. It’s just a little part of the machinery of your cell. And they’ve got two membranes, the mitochondria do. They’ve got an outer membrane and an inner membrane and the outer membrane is essentially just the surface of the actual organelle whereas the inner membrane is the place where all of this oxygen utilization, splitting of ATP actually occurs. Now, endurance exercise is actually a very strong stimulus to improve the proliferation of what are called mitochondrial enzymes. And when these mitochondrial enzymes increase their activity, you get an increase in your mitochondrial density. And when you increase your mitochondrial density, it increases the amount of time that you can perform aerobic endurance exercise and actually mitochondria are very popular among the anti-aging movement because the whole idea is the more mitochondria you have, the more oxygen you’re able to utilize, the more energy you have and the longer you’re able to live. Now what happens is that generally more fats are used to generate ATP when you actually increase your mitochondrial density. And the whole idea behind that is that endurance exercise uses quite a bit of fat as a fuel. So if you can increase your mitochondrial density, you can also increase the amount of fat that you burn during exercise. So let’s look at exactly how you could increase your mitochondrial density. The first thing that you got to understand is that there are basically two signals that signal your body to generate more mitochondria. One of these is the amount of calcium that’s inside the basically the fluid that surrounds your cells and an increase in calcium within the cells of your skeletal muscles can actually induce what’s called mitochondrial protein synthesis or the growth of the mitochondria in your body. So one is to increase the amount of calcium that’s inside the cells of the muscle. The other is to actually reduce the amount of ATP that you have available. Now interestingly, when you exercise very hard, what happens is there is actually observed a calcium increase in the muscle cell. So you get a release of calcium and that’s just – we’re not going to get into it today – but that’s just based on the electrochemical gradient that has to occur in order for your muscles to create a contraction. So we get a release of calcium when we exercise hard and that’s often one of the reasons you feel sore after you exercise hard, is that calcium build up. The other thing that we get is a decrease in the amount of that ATP. And that’s the other signal that signals mitochondria to become more dense. And the rate at which that ATP decreases or the extent to which that ATP decreases directly correlates to the increase in mitochondrial densities. So in other words, the harder that you exercise, the more likely it is that you’re going to induce an increase in your mitochondria concentration. And there has actually been exercise duration studies that have found that exercise durations longer than about 60 minutes at a controlled easy aerobic intensity actually don’t result in significant additional mitochondrial density. Whereas very high exercise intensities like around your VO2 that last around 30 minutes that are for example 2 minutes hard, 4 minutes easy, very intense 30 second all out sprints – that these will actually increase the mitochondrial density. So the long slow aerobic stuff does not necessarily increase the mitochondrial density. The interval training does. And this returns to why in all the programs that I write out for the triathletes that I train, we include lots of intervals and then we include just enough aerobic exercise for recovery and to teach the body how to for example sit on a bicycle saddle for a long period of time. It’s the same reason that most of the athletes that I work with get away with 10 to 15 hours a week of training for Ironman triathlon, which for a lot of people is not that much. So we increase the mitochondrial density through decreasing that ATP very quickly and exercising very hard. So, what we can take away from that is actually returning to Al’s question. Let me pull up his question here so I don’t get off topic too far. Is there value in training hard after depleting a third or more of your glycogen stores to improve mitochondrial density? Well let’s ask this question. Does depleting our carbohydrate stores to improve our mitochondrial density actually cause a large release of calcium or does it cause a large depletion of ATP energy stores? Well, the answer to the first is likely no. I’ve never heard of shutting down carbohydrate availability to a muscle actually increasing the amount of calcium production. As far as I know, that would not induce a calcium release by basically stripping your muscles of carbohydrate and then exercising hard. Now the second part, in terms of decreasing the amount of ATP that’s available, that’s kind of an interesting thought because when your muscles use ATP they have to regenerate more ATP. And one of the components that’s used to produce ATP is called NADPH. I’m not going to into the actual name. Just trust me, the abbreviation is NADPH. Well the only way to make NADPH is its kicked off of a part of something called the Krebs cycle. In order for your Krebs cycle to actually occur, sugar must be present. Basically sugar is fed into the Krebs cycle. The Krebs cycle kicks off NADPH and that’s used to produce more ATP that can then be split via the consumption of oxygen during exercise. So when you think about it, if the body doesn’t have enough sugar available, then the Krebs cycle would actually slow down. Less NADPH would be available. Therefore less ATP could be available. Therefore technically you could signal a higher production of mitochondria or increased mitochondrial density. And by exercising hard without much sugar on board, you could actually – if you think about it – cause that to occur to an even quicker or greater extent. So on paper, it would actually work. My question is if you’re really feeling starved and you don’t have enough sugar on board, are you going to be able to train hard enough? Are you going to enjoy your training, which is a big part of it and are you going to be able to avoid overtraining when you’re exercising hard without much fuel on board? So really interesting question, Al. And I guess my final thought would be I would like to see a research study that actually compares glycogen depleted people with glycogen sufficient people and see if there’s a difference in the mitochondrial density generated, you know after a four or six or eight week period of cardiovascular interval training. So, there you go. If you have a question for me for the podcast, you can call toll free 8772099439 and you can leave me a voice mail. I will play the voice mail on the show. That’s also interesting. You can Skype me at pacificfit or you can email [email protected]. So let’s go ahead and move on to the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The awesome interview on transdermal magnesium therapy with Dr. Mark Cirkis.
Ben: Hey podcast listeners, this is Ben Greenfield and on the other line I have a doctor who is one of the most prolific writers in medicine. He holds the honorary title Doctor of Oriental Medicine. He was actually one of the first nationally certified acupuncturists in the nation. His name is Dr. Mark Cirkis. He was trained in acupuncture and oriental medicine at the Institute of Traditional Medicine, Santa Fe, New Mexico and the School of Traditional Medicine, New England in Boston. And for many years, Dr. Cirkis has been researching the human condition and the causes of disease. He has quite a bit of research under his belt but his primary focus recently has been looking into environmental toxicity and he’s written extensively on poisons in the environment and our foods, in our medicine, even in our dental practices. And he’s the director of the International Medical Veritas Association which is advocating radical changes in orthodox medicine and in addition to some of these qualifications, Dr. Cirkis happens to have been doing quite a bit of study in the field of magnesium oil and sports performance. And today, we’re going to talk quite a bit about some of Dr. Cirkis’s research and some of the things he’s been involved in but also some things that most coaches, most athletes, most teams especially in the United States are completely unaware of when it comes to some of the powerful things we can be doing to enhance sports performance and recovery. So Dr. Cirkis, thank you for coming on the show today.
Dr. Mark Cirkis You’re welcome Ben. Pleasure to be here.
Ben: Can you tell me a little bit about your background. Expound on that just a bit and what you’ve been up to in terms of the type of medicine that you practice and the type of research that you do?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Well, to sum it all up. I’m basically founding a new medical approach and it’s called natural allopathic medicine. Natural and allopathic would normally be thought of as an oxymoron. Two words that don’t normally go together. But in my research I found kind of I stole in the dark of night into the emergency rooms around the world and the intensive wards and discovered that their most effective medicines are actually natural and not pharmaceuticals. Principally it’s magnesium chloride or magnesium sulfate, iodine and sodium bicarbonate. These are substances that are only considered legally medicines when you inject it in the emergency room, but you can buy sodium bicarbonate in the supermarket. You can buy iodine in a pharmacy or supermarket and magnesium chloride or what is called magnesium oil – is something kind of new. It’s only been out basically the last five or six years. Though the product I endorse is 250 million years. It’s been around in nature for a long time. So, I’ve basically applied these substances and a full protocol behind it, but this is part of my holy trinity of medicine – these three substances. And I apply these substances that can save your life especially magnesium chloride and sodium bicarbonate in a heartbeat if you’re having a heart attack or a stroke or chronic disease.
Ben: Holy trinity of medicine. Now what were the three again? Just to clarify to the audience?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Magnesium chloride, which is something that’s abundant in the sea. Iodine which is an old universal medicine. 400 years ago it was one of the most popular medicines along with medical marijuana and sodium bicarbonate which is something they use all the time in chemotherapy, emergency rooms, intensive care wards. Something you can brush your teeth with, use as deodorant. You can wash your refrigerator with it. Very common, bake food with it. But it’s also when used appropriately, a very strong medicine.
Ben: So what is magnesium? And why is it important?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Well, magnesium… I have a chapter. I’m redoing my first book which is called Transdermal Magnesium Therapy. It was the first book actually in print.
Ben: Transdermal Magnesium Therapy?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Therapy, right.
Ben: Is that book available, for example on Amazon? Where can people find that?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Yes, it’s on Amazon. Right now I’m coming out with a second edition. I have a whole line of eBooks on my IMVA site and I have two new books on magnesium. One is called Magnesium – The Ultimate Heart Medicine and the other one is called Magnesium Medicine. That work will be integrated into the second edition of the Transdermal book. But basically, magnesium – I have a chapter in one of the new books called the Lamp of Life. And without magnesium, there is no life on this planet. Why is that? Magnesium is the atom. It is the metal that is in the very heart of chlorophyll and it enables chlorophyll and plants to capture light energy and turn it into chemical energy. Without that there is no life. So probably one of the reasons we need to eat plants, we need to eat vegetables is we get a lot of magnesium from that and the body takes the chlorophyll, knocks out the magnesium, takes out the magnesium and puts in iron and you can have hemoglobin. So it’s a very social relationship. But basically magnesium is the oil of the body. You take an engine and take out the oil or deplete the oil down to 20% and you (inaudible) the engine. It’s the same with magnesium. It’s involved in everything. 325 enzyme reactions. Cell permeability, barrier integrity, insulin production, insulin resistance, mitochondrial production – so ATP production, detoxification, everything. So, when you start running down on magnesium, here’s an analogy. The body stops working at its high performance. Performance level starts dropping. Physiology gets compromised and everything becomes more difficult for the body to do.
Ben: So we’re talking about essentially a dry bike chain with no oil.
Dr. Mark Cirkis Exactly.
Ben: It might still go around but it’s not going to go around smoothly?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Right, and the more drops, the more chance of breakage. Basically when you have a heart attack – almost everybody has diabetes has a heart attack has very low magnesium levels. When somebody dies of a heart attack, what are they dying of? Are they dying of a heart attack or magnesium deficiency? When an athlete drops dead in the middle of a marathon from a heart disease – it’s really a confirmation of two things. It’s magnesium deficiency and a tremendous concentration of mercury in the heart.
Ben: You know this is something I wanted to get into a little bit later on in the interview, but because you brought it up and before we go a little bit deeper into magnesium deficits and before we talk about health, recovery and human performance – when you talk about heart attacks in the athletic population and magnesium deficiencies, that strikes very close to home right now because yesterday one of the greatest triathletes in America – Steve Larson – died of a heart attack during or after a run. Why would magnesium be so important in the function of the heart of athletes during exercise? Why physiologically or where physiologically does magnesium actually help?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Well it’s not just during exercise. But exercise compounds the problem. Magnesium – if your magnesium levels in the blood drop, if they drop far enough which is just a little bit a person will have a heart attack. That’s all there is to it. You need magnesium to – the heart muscles themselves need the most energy of all the tissues of the body especially in athletes. They’re cranking out… you need optimal physiological performance. If your magnesium is low and you have a build up of calcium in the heart tissues. Calcium is kind of something that is very rigid where magnesium is very soft. The Chinese used to call magnesium thousands of years ago the beautiful metal. Calcium is the opposite. Things get very gooey and very solid and nutrition can’t get into the heart cells and poisons from respiration can’t get out because the cell walls get calcified so things don’t go in and out so easily. And then the magnesium ATP doesn’t keep up. So it’s a set up. People are not dropping dead everyday right and left from it, but you increase your risk factor when you have a drop in magnesium levels. And the other complication is mercury. People – the United States government does not want anybody to know…
Ben: I lost you for just a second as you were saying that the United States government does not want anyone to know what?
Dr. Mark Cirkis I’ll start right there. The United States government does no want anybody to know that there’s a huge problem with mercury in the United States. In the whole northern hemisphere, that the United States coal industry, electric power generation is putting 50 tons of mercury in the air. The dentists are putting these toxic waste dumps in people’s mouths. The amalgam which is 50% mercury… and they’re promoting flu shots which have mercury. These things get concentrated in the cells where everybody in America is mercury toxic. And they’re not giving anybody a clue to this. They’re not giving anybody an idea on how to detoxify frm the mercury poisoning.
Ben: How does this tie into magnesium?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Well it ties into what we’re talking about – a heart attack. There’s a case I remember where an athlete died and they did a tissue analysis of his heart and it had 22,000 times the normal concentration of mercury. So this is part of the problem. This magnesium deficiency and toxicity create these sudden heart attacks when these athletes just fall over. The mercury gets more concentrated in the heart tissues for some reason and probably more so in athletes because they’re really using their hearts and that particular tissue to an extreme extent.
Ben: Well that’s what I wanted to ask you. These magnesium deficits, I’m assuming and I imagine the response is going to be yes but I was going to ask you are magnesium deficits common and if so, is the deficit more common among the athletic population?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Well, an athlete will use more magnesium so they will need to eat more magnesium. And yes, officially 67% of the American population is magnesium deficient. But the way they measure that is using blood serum tests and the blood does not budge. The body conserves magnesium in the blood so you don’t have a heart attack and it will suck out all of the magnesium from the rest of the tissues. So, whenever they’re testing you very rarely see the magnesium deficiency and yet the Massachusetts Institute of Technology acknowledges that 67% of the population are not getting enough magnesium so I would assume easily over 99.5% of the population are having a problem with magnesium. Their oil levels are not topped off. They’re deficient and it’s a problem and it’s one of the basic reasons that chronic disease is increasing. One of the reasons people die because of something like a flu is because you put some stress on the engine and the oil is low and something pops. You pop a gasket.
Ben: Now I seem to remember at some point in one of my science courses at university that we learned that magnesium is stored in the human body. Now if magnesium is stored in the human body kind of similar to a fat soluble vitamin, how could a magnesium deficit be so common?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Well because your intake – it’s not a micromineral like selenium, it’s a macromineral. According to the federal government, you need 500 mgs a day. So if you’re eating only 300, you’re running a deficit of 200 a day, you very quickly will year by year and month by month be running down your stores. Just like you’re running an engine. You run down the oil. You go from New York to California and you’re going to be using up probably two quarts of oil. Everyday we need to eat magnesium and a background reality is that the mineral and vitamin contents of food has been decreasing dramatically the last 50 years for many reasons. So when you eat an orange or you eat any kind of food – it’s not going to have the same vitamin C content it had 50 years ago. Magnesium is not refurbished into the soil. They don’t fertilize – very few people fertilize the soil with magnesium which could be… so (inaudible) farming and modern farming methods is depleting the amount of minerals inside the food. So it’s almost impossible today actually to eat and get everything you need. And this is critical for the athlete because their performance is dependent on it. Injuries with… we’re getting to this – the magnesium – so transdermal magnesium therapy is ideal for athletes because yes you can drink magnesium chloride but you can put it on the skin like you would sun screen and it goes right into the tissues. So if you have a swollen knee and you just lather this stuff on and do it three or four times a day, you’re actually treating the local tissues and magnesium is an anti-inflammatory. Any kind of injury creates inflammation. Magnesium is the god of anti-inflammatories. It’s just amazing stuff and the effect is almost immediate.
Ben: What are some dietary sources of magnesium? If I wanted to get it from food what I would need to eat?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Well you certainly would eat brown bread, organic brown bread. Not white bread. Whole wheat rice, not white rice. Sugar cane as opposed to white sugar. Anybody who’s eating white sugar, white bread or white rice guaranteed – no test needed – guaranteed magnesium deficiency.
Ben: How about seeds or nuts?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Well the highest – the sesame seeds is one of the highest sources of magnesium. Spirulina is also a very high source of magnesium. All the organic vegetables and seeds, nuts.
Ben: What you’re saying is the soil that these types of foods are grown in doesn’t actually contain enough of the magnesium mineral or not enough of the magnesium gets transferred into the fruit or the vegetable because of modern agricultural practices?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Yes. Not just magnesium. This is a universal characteristic of the modern age. And of course it varies from location. Some places in the world are lower in magnesium than others. Same with selenium. There are many studies that show that heart disease are higher in certain areas and lower in certain areas and they correlate this with both selenium and magnesium – basic minerals that are crucial to health.
Ben: Ok now I have an organic garden in my backyard that I get a lot of my vegetables from. I know it’s not leeched of probably as many minerals as typical fertilizers or a sprayed farmer’s field is, but I’m an Ironman athlete I’m a triathlete. Am I getting enough magnesium from the high vegetable, fruit, seed and nut intake that I currently take in or should I be worried about my heart or about my performance during exercise based off what you’ve observed from a magnesium deficiency standpoint? Especially with people who are exercising a lot.
Dr. Mark Cirkis Where do you live? Where is your garden?
Ben: I’m in Washington State.
Dr. Mark Cirkis Washington State. Well if you lived in a pristine environment, I could answer the question and say yes. You’d probably be sufficient. It would still be iffy. But living where you live and anywhere else in the United States, coming across the Pacific Ocean is a bank of fog – of pollution coming in from China. The mercury and many other chemical poisons – 30% of all the pollution on the west coast of the United States is coming from China. So and then also just being in a modern environment is toxic. If you’re taking any kind of drugs, any kind of vaccines or have dental amalgam, you’re using up to defend the body from these poisons – you need minerals and vitamins. But you need magnesium, selenium, even calcium. You need these things to buffer and protect and help eliminate. So just dealing with the poisons increases the need – forget about being an athlete and pushing your body to its limits – the toxic load is demanding more nutrition when actually we’re getting less. Though having your own garden – if you sprayed your garden with magnesium – with this magnesium oil we’re going to be talking about, you’ll be increasing the magnesium content of the foods you’re eating.
Ben: Interesting. Now is it going to give me any added benefit to use it from an athletic standpoint or from a health or recovery or immune system standpoint?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Well I’ll tell you, I started using this magnesium – it’s called magnesium oil which is not an oil. It’s magnesium chloride. 35% magnesium chloride and the rest is basically water. The first time I took it – it’s the only thing I’ve ever taken in my life where I actually felt a difference. I get on my bicycle and after a few days of taking it, I could feel my endurance change. I could feel my power increase. The only other thing I’ve taken that I feel something is niacin. Take niacin and you get a flush. You can feel it. Same with the magnesium. My experience actually – my personal experience is when I started doing this – got into this magnesium thing – I’d gone back to the tennis court after… I’m 53 years old. I got back on the tennis court after 15 years off and I’d come home everyday in pain. I was hurting. And I have here in Brazil, many of us even if we don’t have that much money – I have a maid and she would give me a rubdown with this magnesium oil. And I’d get off the table with a smile and the pain would be gone. And I literally survived the first year of training with magnesium. Everyday I’d come home and I’d get a magnesium rub and it would make all the difference in the world. So when athletes – somebody like you who’s used to really feeling their performance – it’s like if you’re going to go out and do a race, it makes sense to top off your oil. It makes sense to put this magnesium all over the body not only for performance’s sake but as a preventive against injury because it prevents injury or treats injury because it’s an anti-inflammatory. It goes right into the tissues. It’s a pure tonic meaning whatever’s going wrong, whatever’s hurt or injured – it’s going into those tissues and will support this regeneration. It will support the detoxification. It will support the physiology of those injured cells.
Ben: What about strength gains or muscular gains?
Dr. Mark Cirkis I would say there might be a slight – here I’m just intuiting – strength. I think the thing a person feels more is the endurance. Usually an athlete would have to test it out, have other athletes testing it out and talk about strength. There’s nothing I was doing that I could say oh I felt stronger. I felt more powerful as far as endurance but I didn’t test that against weights or anything like that.
Ben: Right. Is there any hormonal effect that you’re aware of from a testosterone or cortisol standpoint?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Yes. Magnesium as I say is so fundamental to physiology, it’s involved in the whole hormonal system, in the master hormones which break down to the other hormones. So yes, if you’re slightly or grossly magnesium deficient, there’ll be a hormonal problem.
Ben: Now what would be the problem – you’re talking about perhaps doing some type of a soak or some type of a spray. What about just taking magnesium orally versus a supplement or via multivitamin?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Well taking magnesium in a pill form is different than taking magnesium chloride which is liquid or magnesium sulfate. The body can absorb much easier liquid vitamins than solid because with the solids – any kind of solid magnesium supplement – you have to break down the magnesium. That takes energy, that takes good levels of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and oral absorption of magnesium is very iffy. You maybe absorb 50% of it if you’re lucky. Some people, a lot less. If you’re going to use magnesium as a medicine, if you drink enough magnesium where you’re using it as a medicine or really enhance performance – it’ll provoke diarrhea. Like too much vitamin C. So, using it – oddly in my book I recommend using both orally and transdermally. Transdermally has a different effect especially to an athlete because it gets right into the muscles. You’re bypassing the stomach. The first doctor actually before me who was beginning to speak about this transdermal approach is Dr. Normal Sheely and he has a patent pending using the – only when you put it on the skin for some unknown reason does it stimulate the DHEA. The master hormone. Somehow the magnesium chloride is interacting with the fatty tissues and so we talk about the hormone situation. But if we’re athletes, it’s a matter of using it on the body and if the whole body is receiving it and it becomes available for the muscles… if you’re going to do real intense sports or competition – what I recommend actually, I have a chapter called Magnesium Bicarbonate, which is something that exists only in the sea. Magnesium bicarbonate together or using – which you can’t really buy but using magnesium chloride and sodium bicarbonate – sodium bicarbonate if you’re doing any kind of sport, it increases your oxygen carrying capacity because it raises the PH of the blood. And here’s another key point for athletes. Both magnesium and the bicarbonate are essential for the dynamics of the red blood cells and their ability to carry oxygen. The magnesium is very intricately involved because of this whole relationship with chlorophyll. If you don’t have enough magnesium – the shape of the red blood cells isn’t going to be quite perfect. Meaning it’ll reduce its ability to carry oxygen. The bicarbonate increases CO2. I just published a two part series on Co2. Co2 is very much linked to oxygen capacity. If you don’t have enough Co2, you can’t carry as much oxygen. So you take bicarbonate, which used to be alka seltzer and there’s an immediate effect. If you take a teaspoon of bicarbonate before you go out and workout, you’re going to find actually right away – more oxygen available to the cells. So you get increased performance. Tying the magnesium bicarbonate together, you need bicarbonate to get the magnesium into the mitochondria. So the two together I call the ultimate mitochondrial cocktail. So again, we’re increasing performance because we’re increasing ATP production. So these are critical things and…
Ben: You know while I was talking to you, I looked up just a couple of studies that I’m looking at magnesium and I wanted to ask about these or if you were familiar with these. There’s one here that was done at Western Washington University on football players that found that a magnesium supplementation increased free testosterone levels and muscle strength in NCAA football players. I see another one here where young athletes experienced significant increases in endurance performance during aerobic exercise supplementing with magnesium and both of these studies, it looked like they used an oral magnesium. I’m just wondering how much greater the effects would have been if they’d used a topical application. And then there’s another one here – an eight week training program in which athletes who supplement with magnesium had a two and a half times greater muscle strength gain than a placebo group. Now I’m assuming and looking over the methods of these studies, it looks like all of them used an oral magnesium supplementation. However, if people were wanting to use this transdermal magnesium to try and get some of these metabolic or some of these strength benefits, is this something that would be applied for example 30 minutes prior to exercise. Is this something that needs to be used for several months leading up to an exercise event? What are the recommendations with transdermal magnesium?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Well it’s something – for an athlete or anybody who’s either interested in maintaining health, maximizing their health or preventing disease or preventing sports injuries or maximizing sports performance, using this as a regular aspect of life is – for me magnesium is number one in my protocol. It’s way ahead of vitamin C or calcium or anything else that… I mean really any high performing athlete I believe would feel – after three days of using it, they would notice a difference. Yes, you’d use it before sports performance. Maybe an hour before and then wash it off and then after the performance to relax everything and it’s just – it’s something that has to be tried. Transdermal magnesium supplementation is the – I don’t know what word to use. It’s the ultimate way of using it. You can inject it. You can eat it. I dilute it and put it in my eyes. You can vaporize it right into the lungs with a nebulizer. There are many ways of getting to the body. But the easiest way instead of using sun lotion, just put it all over the body or you can put it in very high concentrations in a bath – somebody gets a sports injury, the first thing you want to do is put it all over their body. Get them into a hot bath and throw in three, four, five pounds magnesium chloride. It’s going to be a mineral.
Ben: Now what about cramping or spasming in the body? I realize with the heart, magnesium is crucial for that electrochemical gradient but what about for athletes who are dealing with spasms during exercise, from electrolyte loss or dealing with chronic cramp in the hamstring – things of that nature – would magnesium be indicated in a situation like that?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Well yes magnesium, but not just magnesium. You have to pay attention to make sure you have a balance of calcium, which you have if you have a good diet. If you’re eating a lot of dairy, but eating bananas to get potassium is very crucial. You could be – cramps could be from low magnesium and also from that too. So when you get to dealing with cramps you got to look at the full spectrum of minerals. Something like spirulina is very helpful for that. Eating good salts like Himalayan sea salt or dead sea salt. Of course your organic vegetables. You need really a balance. You could be using a lot of magnesium and still get cramps and that means you got to be looking at the other minerals at the same time.
Ben: Now with the health of bones – bone density – I know that mineral intake is very important from that perspective. Is there a role that magnesium or transdermal magnesium has to play in for example the healing of stress fractures of the enhancement of bone density?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Absolutely. If you look at the difference between human teeth and the teeth of a tiger and the tusk of an elephant – the thing that makes bone harder and harder if you look at these bones – the higher the magnesium, the stronger the bone. Elephant tusk or tiger tooth is very high in magnesium compared to a human tooth. So yes, magnesium is instrumental in bone density and magnesium controls calcium also. If you have a low profile of magnesium then calcium becomes a big problem.
Ben: Do you have any experience with athletes actually using magnesium and seeing breakthroughs in sports performance or seeing breakthroughs in their events.
Dr. Mark Cirkis Ben, this has been a frustration of mine. I wrote my only essay on sports medicine and magnesium – it must be from my first book – three, three and a half years ago. I have been wanting to break open this story to the sports world ever since then and the opportunity – I tried once or twice to create an opportunity and it just didn’t happen. It’s a sad thing to me.
Ben: It’s happening right now. I’m hoping that a lot of people will listen to this. But yeah from a sports performance standpoint, with what you’re telling me it amazes me that I’m not flipping open Runner’s World magazine or Triathlete magazine or any of these publications that are associated with endurance sports – a sport with a high amount of attrition – I never see magnesium or minerals. I’ve never come across anything like transdermal magnesium oil.
Dr. Mark Cirkis The only thing I can think of is sports doctors in sports medicine are just like all the other doctors – the oncologists, the pediatrician…
Ben: For just a second there I lost you. You were talking about the oncologists and the pediatricians?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Yeah. I think one explanation is that the sports doctors – allopathic sports doctors are very similar to their brethren – the oncologists and the pediatricians. They just want to remain ignorant. They don’t want to educate even themselves or the people they deal with to these… it’s amazing. It’s just so amazing. I mean especially with sports medicine with people dropping dead from a heart attack that a sports doctor wouldn’t finally say look, let’s look at the magnesium levels and so yeah. It’s amazing. And I hope… you take a sports club – a team, competitive team – you take the whole team and you give them the right minerals – magnesium bicarbonate and do it the right way – man, the whole team is going to raise in performance. They’re going to – I wouldn’t want to come up against them or be at a disadvantage on this level. And for sports injury, if you’re getting injured or to prevent the tragedy of an athlete when they hurt themselves. The agony of that. A lot of it can be avoided by just topping up the oil. Keeping the magnesium levels to their maximum levels and the transdermal effect for an athlete in this sense is optimum. It’s because you’re putting this stuff right onto the tissues that would get possibly injured.
Ben: Yeah and you know what, I’ve come across a couple of interesting things because during our discussion I’ve been on your IMVA website. I’m going to actually post a link to a very interesting article on transdermal magnesium mineral therapy and sports medicine. I’m going to put a link to that in the Shownotes to this podcast as well as a link to a couple other very interesting PDFs that I’ve just come across on transdermal magnesium. Now I realize that for most of the people and especially for the athletes listening in to this show that this may not be something that is readily accessible to you. I myself am trying to determine the best way to actually find transdermal magnesium. Do you have any resources that you would point the audience to, to be able to utilize this as a resource in recovery or in sports performance or in what sounds like general health?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Yeah, I’ve been involved in the last four, five years – four years basically in different companies, different kind of products, research… people have sent me products from all over the world and about a year and a half ago I found 1500 yards underneath Europe is a sea. An ancient underground sea of trapped ocean water that’s 250 million years old that’s turned totally into magnesium. Magnesium oil. And they pump it up like oil. And it’s the purest. We tested it down to two parts per billion and found no mercury. One of the ways you can buy this is seawater evaporation. When they make salt, after the salt settles out and the magnesium chloride settles out as a liquid. But these ponds – these ocean ponds are not protected and the birds can shit in it and it’s just not high quality for medical use. So I recommend this stuff called Ancient Minerals. You can buy it very easily in two forms. In oil form, which is pretty expensive because it’s incredibly pure. Pure like eating clay. Just super pure. And then they sell these flakes which is a lot less expensive. You can buy 6.5 lbs of flakes and use that. Put it in your baths and use it transdermally. So either way you cover yourself.
Ben: How would you use the flakes transdermally?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Well you put it in your baths, you make foot baths. You put it in a regular bath. You can add water to it. And it’s not quite the same as a pure magnesium oil.
Ben: Now what if I’m going out on a four hour bike ride and I want to have magnesium oil with me. Is there a way right now? Anywhere on the market that I would be able to have an oil that I could spray?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Yes, this Ancient Minerals. You could just take it in a little bottle and every 15 minutes, just pop a little spray in your mouth. I use it pure. You can mix it with a little bit of water in your water. The best thing actually for an athlete is to put a little bicarbonate and a little magnesium in their water and just keep drinking it. That would be… because as you’re doing your 26 mile marathon, you’re constantly – like a doctor would give it intravenously through an IV, constantly going into the body, you can do that. This magnesium – nobody sells actually magnesium – well I wouldn’t say nobody but they’re not selling the magnesium oil to drink it. It’s not rated that way, but for sure (inaudible) it’s pure. So you just mix it in water or it’s great for the gums and the bones and the teeth. Just spraying it…
Ben: You don’t think there’d be a problem with diarrhea if taken orally in that amount?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Well anybody who’s going to use it athletically should experiment with it. I’ll take like 15 sprays in a little glass of water. If I do that twice or three times I’ll get a little bit of loose stool. So you know to cut back the dose just a little bit under the bowel tolerance and then you’ll be fine.
Ben: What about applying it transdermally like on the forearm?
Dr. Mark Cirkis No problem. All over the body. That will not give diarrhea. So it’s not a problem.
Ben: And will you still get the benefits.
Dr. Mark Cirkis Yeah, sure. The best way of course would be to use both together. You’re taking some orally. You put some on the skin and you’re really maximizing – you want the oil to get into every part of the engine. So, as far as taking it into the body… I have a chapter Combining Oral with Transdermal. So yes you take some orally and you can – as you say, if you’re doing a 26 mile run, it would be good to constantly be taking it. The body is going to enjoy that especially if you mix it with the bicarbonate. You’re going to increase the endurance and the performance. There’s no doubt about it. It’s almost mathematics. It’s like the same level of physiology as oxygen. If you cut off somebody’s oxygen or you’re going to run a 26 mile run with your mouth taped over and one nostril closed, you’re going to… bicarbonate is covering the Co2 side of things which is very important. You’re talking basic physiology. The magnesium also. So if you’re covering this basic… it’s like putting rocket fuel, high octane fuel and turning on the afterburners at the same time when the jet fires. You’re dealing with the primary substances that govern basic performance, basic physiology.
Ben: Now from what I understand and what a couple of other physicians have actually mentioned on this show is the fact that magnesium in addition to enhancing sports performance can assist with such issues as chronic fatigue or resistance to weight loss, metabolic issues. Do you have any experience with observing the use of magnesium for things of that nature?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Yeah, I have a book coming out in probably about a month called New Paradigms in Diabetic Care. And excuse me… you have to retape this session. In Brazil we have these cars with loudspeakers passing by. I’ll start again in a minute. In about a month I’ll be publishing my book called New Paradigms in Diabetic Care. Diabetes of course which is a metabolic disease – diabetes like heart disease is totally correlated with magnesium. The more magnesium deficiency you have, the increase of the chances of metabolic disease and diabetes. And one of the reasons why is that metabolic syndrome is like a fire. Like a house burning down. There’s a general inflammation, systemic inflammation. Why? Because there’s not enough magnesium like a fire extinguisher to keep the inflammation under control. And also magnesium is crucial as far as insulin production. The shape of the insulin and also the receptivity of the cell walls to the insulin. So magnesium is right in the middle. So for diabetics who are having neuropathy in the feet – transdermal therapy is like a dream because you can treat directly the feet. You just put your feet inside the magnesium. You don’t have to drink it and hopefully it gets inside and down into the feet. You soak your feet into a high concentration and…
Ben: Interesting. Well you know the feeling that I’m getting is that magnesium plays a pretty significant physiological, really pivotal role in energy production and in maintaining health and as we spent most of the time discussing – maintaining or improving sports performance and it appears that not enough people are getting it. It appears that there are pretty high deficiencies of magnesium as you mentioned most likely due to the leeching of minerals in the soil and then for athletes the fact that they’re just using greater amounts of energy than the average population. I’m going to post as many resources as I can on the Shownotes to this podcast but I would encourage those who are listening in, if you would like to ask me more questions or perhaps have me forward a question to Dr. Cirkis, you can email me [email protected]. This is an issue which I would like to explore as deeply as possible because I’ve seen enough studies and talked to enough professionals who’ve spoken about magnesium so highly on this show and face to face that I think it’s high time that we actually did something about it and made the general population aware and also made athletes aware of the enormous improvement – the enormous benefit that this could give them. This could be kind of like the way creatine was the magic supplement for the past decade for especially strength and power athletes. I have a feeling that magnesium may be the magic supplement for endurance sports for the next decade going forward. We just have to get the news out to athletes about the power of this supplement. Dr. Cirkis, are there any other resources that you would like to point the listeners to?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Well I’d like to point the listeners to my site www.publications.imva.info… That was the backdoor, now the front door to my… I have a whole series….
Ben: I have your website pulled up in front of me and I’m going to make sure that that one ends up on the Shownotes.
Dr. Mark Cirkis And don’t forget – listeners don’t forget the bicarbonate, the mixing of the magnesium and the bicarbonate. On my site you’ll see the book Sodium Bicarbonate – the Rich Man’s Poor Man’s Cancer Treatment. It also has the chapters on the application of the magnesium, both orally and transdermally and a chapter on transdermal medicine in general and why transdermal is not just for magnesium but bicarbonates also. You can put it in a liquid and put it right on your skin or put it by the pound in the bath with the magnesium. The two go together really, really well and…
Ben: And you know, I have to ask you one other thing Dr. Cirkis, I would imagine that some of the research that you do and some of these theories that you’re talking about – I would tend to think that this stuff wouldn’t be too popular among traditional western allopathic medicine. Have you run into that?
Dr. Mark Cirkis Well I run into plenty of allopaths who are opening up to this but in general it’s not authorized. It’s not part of the protocols of the medical health officials, health authorities. Doctors are afraid to step out of the lock step. They’re afraid to do something different – many of them at least or well maybe the majority of them, I’ve never done a poll – but these things are non-pharmaceutical. There’s not much money to be made from these things. They only help. Things that help help and are inexpensive and are not dangerous are not very popular. You won’t find this in the media. Media promotes the pharmaceuticals. They promote poisonous medicines. If you remember, legally it’s a supplement but it’s also a really high profile medicine. If you inject it and you’re having a heart attack, it’ll save somebody’s life in a heartbeat.
Ben: Interesting. I’m happy we’re getting the word out about this. Well Dr. Cirkis, I would like to thank you for coming on the show today. And I would encourage our listeners to look at some of the resources that Dr. Cirkis has sent our way and I think that’s about it. So thanks for coming on.
Dr. Mark Cirkis It’s been a pleasure Ben and I hope some athletes really get this message. I really do hope so.
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