Using a magnesium cream may serve as an alternative or an add-on to drug treatment against high blood pressure, a study in PLOS One revealed.
According to the researchers at the University of Hertfordshire in the U.K., only 86 percent of the general population meet the recommended magnesium intake. The health experts noted that the essential mineral boosts immune function and heart health.
The scientists also stressed that adequate magnesium levels help prevent the onset of metabolic syndrome, a condition characterized by a combination of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
To carry out the study, the researchers teamed up with the Centre for Magnesium Education and Research in Hawaii to examine a group of participants who were given either a magnesium cream or a placebo. The participants were instructed to apply two five ml spoonfuls of cream each daily for two weeks.
The experts then collected the participants’ urine sample after 12 to 14 days. The results showed that volunteers who applied magnesium cream exhibited a significant increase in magnesium levels in the blood. The scientists did not observe a similar increase in those who applied the placebo cream.
The findings may show potential in alleviating hypertension, which puts people at an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and vascular dementia. Hypertension currently affects 75 million Americans and 16 million people in the U.K.
“This study is the first to look at the absorbency of transdermal magnesium creams in human subjects, so is a significant step in determining whether or not these creams could potentially be used as an alternative to oral supplements. Our initial findings indicate that magnesium creams could well be a viable and effective alternative to taking oral magnesium supplements in tablet form,” study author Lindsy Kass told Daily Mail online.
“Low magnesium intake has been shown to cause many health problems, including high blood pressure and cardiovascular issues, so these creams could potentially be a good way to contribute to the increase in magnesium levels and therefore help in reducing the associated health problems. Many people do not like taking pills or have difficulty ingesting them, whereas a cream could be used easily on a daily basis – for example by rubbing it into the skin after showering,” Kass added.
However, the research team noted that these findings warranted further investigation.
Previous study shows magnesium intake promotes heart health
The recent findings on magnesium’s efficacy as a topical treatment were reflective of previous studies demonstrating the mineral’s cardiovascular benefits.
For instance, a meta-analysis published in December 2016 showed that a diet rich in magnesium may reduce the odds of developing heart disease and diabetes.(Related: Magnesium can improve heart health and prevent heart attack deaths (Opinion).)
As part of the study, a team of Chinese researchers pooled data on dietary magnesium intake and chronic disease prevalence from 40 studies published between 19999 and 2016.
The results showed that people with the highest dietary magnesium intake were 10 percent less likely to develop heart disease, 12 percent less likely to have a stroke, and 26 percent less likely to develop diabetes than those who had lower magnesium levels.
However, increasing magnesium levels by up to 100 milligrams a day helped reduce the odds of these adverse events. The research team noted that raising magnesium levels by the said amount slashed the risk of heart failure and stroke by 22 and sevent percent, respectively.
The health experts also said that increasing magnesium intake may result in a 19 percent reduction in diabetes risk and a 10 percent decrease in all-cause mortality risk.
“Increasing dietary magnesium intake is associated with a reduced risk of stroke, heart failure, diabetes, and all-cause mortality, but not CHD [coronary heart disease] or total CVD [cardiovascular disease]. These findings support the notion that increasing dietary magnesium might provide health benefits,” the researchers wrote in BMC Medicine.