By Joanna Mechlinski
Like most people suffering from chronic pain, I’m on a never-ending quest. It generally goes unmentioned, yet it’s as relentlessly present as the prescription bottles in my cabinet.
I’m always searching for a new natural way of alleviating my pain. I scan the internet, searching the latest articles and clicking my way down the familiar e-rabbit hole as one site leads to another and another. I chat with people both online and within my daily interactions, gleaning tips and new ideas from their experiences.
Recently I stumbled upon an article mentioning magnesium lotion, which intrigued me. I’d never before heard of any way to supplement your magnesium levels except by pill or by soaking in an Epsom salt bath. But my rheumatologist tends to advocate staying away from vitamin pills, and due to the weakened muscles in my thighs, I have a hard time rising up from a tub. So the option of another delivery system was pretty exciting.
Magnesium, which is credited with relieving muscle pain, calming anxiety, increasing bone and heart health and even alleviating premenstrual symptoms, is most commonly ingested orally. However, pills aren’t necessarily the best way. Depending upon the person, a large amount of the magnesium may not be absorbed, exiting the body as waste. But if it’s absorbed through the skin – the body’s largest organ – it bypasses the digestion process, going directly where it’s needed.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of magnesium per day for adult women is 310-320 mg and 400-420 mg for men. Pregnant or breastfeeding women need even more. But many people today don’t get enough, in large part due to poor diets. Excessive amounts of alcohol, coffee or tea, soda or processed sugar can keep the body from adequately processing or retaining magnesium. Even some methods of food processing essentially strip the nutrient from the product. People with certain health conditions or using medications or health conditions may also rob people of adequate magnesium levels.
Not being familiar with any particular brand of magnesium lotion, I decided to check out the available brands on Amazon. Like most products in today’s world, there was a huge assortment – with widely varying prices as well. While I didn’t want to pay a lot of money for something I couldn’t even be certain would help me, I also didn’t want to end up with a sub-par product merely because of frugality. Luckily many of the lotions seemed priced within a bracket (about $18-$25 for an 8 oz. bottle, which lasted me two months). So I simply chose one at random, checked the customer reviews (nearly all the 80+ comments were positive) and gave it a try.
The recommended amount is two teaspoonfuls twice a day. At first, I was a bit skeptical, as that seemed like such a tiny amount. How could it possibly be effective? But I quickly discovered that the lotion spreads well and covers a good sized-area. Two teaspoonfuls is quite a generous amount!
The lotion feels a bit sticky upon first contact, but is quickly absorbed into the skin. It does, however, leave a slight white film, much like what you’d expect after a swim in the ocean. The instructions advise washing the areas after letting the lotion absorb about twenty minutes, but I haven’t personally done that. I generally massage the lotion into my entire body – arms, legs, abdomen, lower back, shoulders – so I would essentially have to take two extra showers each day. I haven’t seen any adverse effects because of leaving it on.
So far, I’ve been using the magnesium lotion twice a day for six weeks. I began to feel some effects after about two weeks. It was quite subtle, but after the realization dawned on me, I recognized a distinct lessening of muscle pain, particularly in my upper legs. As I’ve been living with daily pain in that area for over a decade, having something alleviate it – let alone something as simple as a lotion – was quite the revelation.
Will this lotion continue to be effective for me down the road? I can’t be sure, of course. But that’s just fine by me. Even if it helps a little, and only for a little while, that’s more than I had before. I’m willing to try all the options available as I continue my journey.
Joanna Mechlinski is a former newspaper reporter who now works in education. She is a lifelong Connecticut resident, avid reader and animal lover who has battled several chronic illnesses since her early twenties.