Magnesium: the Master Mineral


You need magnesium-rich foods, plus probably an oral supplement in your everyday life.  Magnesium oil is a highly-absorbable form taken in by your skin.  It's amazing.  You should make it and use it. (Skip to "How You Can Help Yourself", #4 below for further info.)


The longer read: 

Chances are, you are magnesium deficient.  The reason so many of us (up to 80% of North Americans, according to various sources) are lacking this essential mineral is due to overconsumption of medications and drugs (alcohol, for instance), a poor diet, and/or eating whole foods that are not as magnesium-rich as they are suppose to be (due to depletion of minerals in the soil from over-farming).

Why does this matter? Well, magnesium is responsible for facilitating over 300 enzyme functions in our bodies.  Some of its more urgent responsibilities include nerve function, protein synthesis, blood sugar balancing, neurotransmitter control, muscle relaxation (including the heart muscle), regulating blood pressure, and energy metabolism.

Magnesium deficiency can manifest in a variety of ways.  A few examples: hormone imbalance, migraines, irritability, anxiety, depression, fatigue or chronic fatigue, PMS, muscle cramps or weakness, back pain, tendonitis, tremors, nausea, loss of appetite, memory problems, kidney stones, bowel irregularity, angina, arrhythmia, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes.  This is not an extensive list.

How You Can Help Yourself:

1) reduce the amount of alcohol and processed foods you consume.  This will allow your body to absorb and use magnesium more efficiently. Many prescription drugs are also responsible for depleting the body of this essential mineral (as well as other vitamins and nutrients).  

2) improve your intake of magnesium-containing foods, such as: spinach, Swiss chard, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, avocados, figs, cultured yogurt or kefir, salmon, black beans, artichokes, coriander, goat cheese.

3) consider taking an oral magnesium supplement.  There are different forms of magnesium available, with the best options being one of the chelated magnesium supplements (where it is bound to amino acids for better absorption), such as "magnesium glycinate" or "magnesium malate" (this last one is especially good for symptoms of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia).  A cheaper option is called "magnesium citrate" and is good for those that are looking for a general, everyday supplement.  This type of magnesium can loosen stools at higher dosages, so it's not necessarily a great choice for those who already have loose stools or those that have a health condition which would require a higher daily dosage.

4) use magnesium oil.  This is a highly absorbable form of transdermal magnesium which arrives directly at the site where you want some extra help!  You can use it on sore or injured muscles, bruises and stiff or injured joints.  If you don't have any of those problems, use it on thighs and/or stomach to up your magnesium intake.  See below for instructions on how to make it yourself, or contact me if you'd like to purchase a pre-made bottle!

How To Make Magnesium Oil:

Purchase magnesium chloride flakes (Epsom salts are also a magnesium salt but that form is called magnesium sulfate, which has a much lower absorption rate and leaves white residue on your skin) and combine roughly equal parts distilled water with magnesium chloride flakes until you get a saturated solution (remember middle school science class??).  A good starting amount is half a cup of water with half a cup of flakes.  Just leave it on the counter for a few days until all the flakes have dissolved, or if your not into passive science, you can stir it or even heat the water before adding the flakes.  Once the solution is at room temperature, you can even add a few drops of essential oils if you're into that sort of thing.  Rub some on your skin every night before bed, or spray it on if you have a small empty spray bottle.  This stuff is awesome!


Other information:

Although two blood tests exist to check your magnesium levels, neither provide an accurate measure of the magnesium levels inside your body's tissues.  Due to the magnitude of biochemical responsibility of this mineral, magnesium levels change rapidly.  So, a snapshot in time of your blood serum magnesium level or your red blood cell magnesium level (the two available blood tests) won't tell you very much, although the red blood cell test is at least an indication of how much magnesium is inside your red blood cells at that particular moment.  A normal reading on a either of these magnesium tests will provide a false sense of security about your body's magnesium status.  It also explains why many health care providers do not recognize or treat magnesium deficiency.


Cabbage Leaf Therapy

The change in seasons can be hard on our bodies.  Recently, I woke up one morning with tight lungs, and no warning signs at all.  It felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest.  It wasn't until the second day of feeling miserable that I remembered this magical treatment.

This is the best remedy for bronchitis, or a tight chest with a dry cough.  It's better than over-the-counter cough syrups, which work to suppress coughing and contain a host of bad ingredients.

What You'll Need

  • green cabbage
  • honey or castor oil (optional)
  • a bowl or dish
  • boiling water
  • plastic bag (optional)
  • towel or scarf


  1. Separate two or three leaves from the outside of a green cabbage, enough to cover your chest (and back if the cough is really severe)
  2. Pour boiling water over the leaves in a bowl and let them heat up for a few minutes (this step is optional, however I speak from experience when I tell you that it's not fun to put cold cabbage leaves on your chest)
  3. Take cabbage leaves out of the water, pat dry, and spread a bit of honey or castor oil onto one side of the leaves (this is also optional, but hugely influences the anti-inflammatory effects of the treatment)
  4. Place onto bare chest and cover with a plastic bag (optional) and then a towel to help trap body heat
  5. Keep in place for as long as possible.  I use this treatment before bed for about 30-45 minutes, but you can also sleep with the cabbage leaves in place.  Personally, I have never tried this because I don't find it's necessary and I don't particularly want to smell cabbage all night while I'm sleeping.  But that's me, I won't judge if you'd like to try it!
  6. Remove cabbage leaves from chest and wipe skin clean.  Discard used leaves. 
  7. Repeat this treatment for three to seven nights in a row, depending on severity of cough.  I feel better after the first treatment but you definitely want to do it for a few nights.  Natural remedies are much more gentle than their chemical counterparts, and therefore take longer to heal our bodies

Excess mucous production or build up in the lungs also benefit from:

  • drinking lots of water to help with detoxification
  • eating pungent foods such as garlic, onions, ginger, asparagus, cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, radish, kale, collard greens, bok choy, turnip, arugula), turmeric, spirulina
  • avoiding or minimizing highly inflammatory foods such as:
    • sugar!!
    • dairy (which is mucous-producing)
    • fried foods, vegetable oils (corn, palm, safflower, soy, sunflower)
    • refined flour (bread, bagels, crackers, pasta, pretzels)
    • processed foods (boxed, canned, processed meat) and fast food
    • artificial foods (sweeteners, additives) usually found in processed foods
    • alcohol

Warming Socks

Updated March 19, 2017

Are you feeling tired and achy?  A little more sluggish than usual?  Maybe a sore throat?  These early symptoms of cold and flu are your body's warning system.  Time to step up your game.

Use warming socks, a hydrotherapy method, to get your lymphatic system pumping and kick your immune system into high gear.  This is usually my first suggestion when people tell me they are experiencing any sort of head or chest congestion.  The typical response:  they look at me like I've got too many heads.  But I swear to you, if you do this for three nights in a row, you will lessen the effects of whatever your body is fighting off, and possibly even avoid it altogether.  

Warming Socks Helps Treat:

  • head cold, nasal congestion
  • sinus infection
  • chest congestion
  • flu symptoms, like aches and chills
  • sore throat
  • earache
  • headache

Other than relieving the above-mentioned symptoms, this method is safe any age, from infants to the elderly.  There are no side effects, aside from feeling better, and you don't have to take medication!  Interested yet? 

What you need:

  • a pair of regular cotton socks, not too thick
  • a pair of wool socks, a wool blend will do here
  • water
  • your bed
  • a foot bath or your tub (optional)
  • an extra blanket or towel (optional)

The method:

  1. (optional) just before bed, soak your feet in hot water for 5-10 minutes, then towel dry
  2. wet the pair of cotton socks in cold water and wring out slightly so they are not dripping wet, then put them on
  3. pull the dry pair of wool socks on over top of the wet cotton socks
  4. climb into bed
  5. (optional) place an extra blanket or towel over top of your feet
  6. repeat for three consecutive nights for best results

How it works:

Your body wants everything to be balanced (this is called homeostasis).  When you put cold socks onto warm feet, your body wants to equalize the temperature difference, which creates a pumping action between your blood vessels and your lymphatic system.  This, in turn, stimulates your immune system which effectively fights off congestion and viruses. Warming socks works better than decongestants and antihistamines to relieve congestion while you're sleeping.

Coconut Oil's Downfall

Kale.  Let's start there.  It turns out that kale isn't the be-all-and-end-all for leafy green vegetables.  I suppose this isn't news, nor is it surprising for those who have some common sense, even though common sense seems to be getting less common.  Everything in moderation seems to be a more suitable mantra these days.  Especially with the superfood craze and social media's propensity to inundate the layperson with somewhat ridiculous fountain-of-youth claims.

Anyway.  Getting back to the point here.  Coconut oil is wonderful.  It's healthful properties don't get destroyed at high cooking temperatures, it can be used internally to battle candida, it helps make an awesome 'magic shell' topping for ice cream, it's a fantastic moisturizer, it even kills lice. 

So what's my beef?  Well, coconut oil is rated 4 out of 5 on the comedogenic scale.  This means it clogs pores!  For those who struggle with breakouts or already-oily skin, this is bad news.  The good news?  There are lots of alternatives that are just as cost-effective for making your own plant-based facial care products.  My favourites are shea butter, sweet almond oil and jojoba oil.