Tag Archives: magnesium

Good news: Baths can be less exhausting than showers

Yes, autoimmune disease can be exhausting and it can be confusing for other people to understand because autoimmune disease may not have obvious symptoms. A person with an autoimmune disorder may suffer from severe pain or other symptoms throughout their body but not have lab tests that show obvious problems to a physician. Autoimmune antibodies are known for a few types of disorders and those can be screened for if the lab test is ordered but not all autoimmune antigens have been identified.

Magnesium deficiency may be an underlying issue though for many/most autoimmune disorders, so taking an Epsom salt bath can provide improved magnesium absorption through the skin and allow a person to sit down to wash their hair and shave their legs (if desired). No promises though, that a nap might not still be desired after the exertion of bathing while sitting, or before the exertion of blow-drying long hair.

Fibromyalgia and chronic pain problems may have autoimmune origins [3] and/or may have to do with our cell’s energy workhouses, the mitochondria, running out of their preferred energy source — magnesium. They use calcium but it can overwork them to the point of cell death. In normal physiology membrane transport systems, also called ion channels, carefully control how much calcium is allowed into the interior of mitochondria. Something called ruthenium-red (RuRed) and magnesium ions are involved in controlling the entry of calcium ions through the transport channels. [1, 2]

A deficiency of magnesium may allow excess calcium to enter the mitochondria and cause overexcitation and even lead to death of the mitochondria.

Mitochondria are actually similar to bacteria and have their own DNA that in nature always matches the mother’s mitochondria’s DNA but that is a different story.

(RuRed) – not a nutrient I didn’t know about – it’s a dye used in labs that selectively binds with some things but not others so it is used for identification purposes with unknown samples — roughly.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

  1. http://ajpcell.physiology.org/content/287/4/C817
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/20680823_Ruthenium_red_and_magnesium_ion_partially_inhibit_silver_ion-induced_release_of_calcium_from_sarcoplasmic_reticulum_of_frog_skeletal_muscles
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24435355

Cheerful Juice lives up to its name

Cheerful Juice lives up to it’s name as a post debate pick me up. ii had missed having some earlier in the day and was fairly cranky and tired after watching the Presidential debate Wednesday night. Even though it had gotten later, past midnight, I was cranky enough that I remembered forgetting my Cheerful Juice.

So positive mood within half a glass, within 20 minutes, boost of energy by the full cup, within 50 minutes (now typing this instead of sleeping)– suggesting that for my genetic structure I do need the two gram dose — ~half a teaspoon, half a glass. The five gram dose, full teaspoon, full glass, might be a little more than I need at one time. Having a glass in the morning and evening has been beneficial on the few days that I’ve tried that, so simply spitting the teaspoon serving into two half teaspoon servings might be effective without causing extra symptoms.

The burst of energy suggests overactivity might be occurring. Aspartic acid and glutamate are called excitotoxins because they can signal so much activity in a cell that it leads to death of the cell due to overwork. Glycine and methionine are more active as inhibitory messenger chemicals so they may not have the same risk as there would be with large doses of aspartic acid or glutamate, especially in combination with magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium is an electrically active mineral that works from within the cell to provide energy for membrane channels that in normal health would control what is allowed into the cell – too much glutamate or aspartic acid or calcium simply wouldn’t be allowed in if enough magnesium was available to power the electric doorways in the cell membranes, (ie: magnesium selective ion channels).

I’m keeping notes because this is a new area of study, there isn’t a handbook for dietary advice for all the genetic defects in metabolism. Some more deadly ones are known and screened for at birth so the infant can be put on a protective diet as soon as possible. PKU, phenylketonuria is the most well known example of genetic defects that can be managed with dietary changes.

[See a previous post, Glycine is an amino acid with neurotransmitter roles, for more details.]

It’s past 1:00am now, I’ll try to go to sleep and have some cheerful dreams — about an Amendment to the Constitution overturning Citizens United — or some other cheerful topic.

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Mitochondria, P53, cancer and magnesium deficiency

Addition, 7/21/16, there is more information about mitochondria and chronic illness at this link: https://www.sott.net/article/321987-Thanks-Big-Pharma-for-the-Mitochondrial-collateral-damage, the site also has a few other articles on the topic which I haven’t read yet and the topic of magnesium doesn’t come up until you reach the comment that I added. I will have to read more about this topic. Medications that cause an imbalance in calcium and magnesium could be causing stress to the mitochondria and lead to their death and to chronic illness.

  • This article is short introducing a long video. A quote from the short text does mention nutrient deficiencies can be involved, “Nutrient deficiencies are a contributing factor to mitochondrial dysfunction. ” https://www.sott.net/article/308212-Mitochondrial-dysfunction-GMOs-Glyphosate Glyphosate  Inhibition of vitamin D metabolism could lead to magnesium and  calcium imbalance which could be stressing mitochhondria and lead to chronic illness.
  • An abstract with a link to the full text: https://www.sott.net/article/264786-Oxidative-stress-mitochondrial-damage-and-neurodegenerative-diseases
  • https://www.sott.net/article/294075-Fibromyalgia-as-a-mitochondrial-disorder
  • I haven’t watched the video or read all of the articles yet but fibromyalgia is what I had symptoms of that were bad enough to lead to my giving up wheat and gluten products initially. It simply hurt too much when I ate them. And I got better without gluten. Maybe it was the gluten or maybe my genetics with errors in the vitamin D metabolism. I will have to get back to this topic but I share the information now because pain hurts and if even one person is helped then I would be glad. *And I was a professional gourmet baker, I know how to make from scratch croissant, and French baguettes and loaf breads of many types as well as cookies and quick breads. I love wheat products but they didn’t love my body.

A comment of mine that is awaiting moderation posted on another site:

Mitochondria need lots of magnesium (and magnesium is also necessary for white blood cells to be able to perform apoptosis.) “Additionally, exposure to low Mg upregulated plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) [24]. PAI-1 is considered not merely a marker of senescence, since it is both necessary and sufficient for the induction of replicative senescence downstream of p53 [27].” by D. Killilea and J. Maier, “A connection between magnesium deficiency and aging: new insights from cellular studies” Magnes Res. 2008 Jun; 21(2): 77–82. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2790427/ Please U. of Penn. researchers, look into preventing cancer by providing mitochondria with a healthy diet instead of by providing them with some sort of pharmaceutical designed to manipulate P53 — just prevent P53 from being induced by providing adequate magnesium to the cells. Thanks.

The comment is in response to this article which is about recent animal based research that suggests that a cell’s mitochondria when under stress may produce a chemical (P53) that may lead to cancer: http://scienmag.com/penn-team-finds-mitochondrial-stress-induces-cancer-related-metabolic-shifts/#comment-7188

Now I know mitochondria need a lot of magnesium so one search led to the link in the comment and ~391,000 other links, https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=mitochondrial+stress+P53+calcium+magnesium, including this one:

by Giorgi C., et. al., “p53 at the endoplasmic reticulum regulates apoptosis in a Ca2+-dependent manner” PNAS, Feb. 10, 2015, vol. 112, no. 6, pp 1779–1784. http://www.pnas.org/content/112/6/1779.full.pdf

Apoptosis is the method by which white blood cells are able to kill infected or malfunctioning or old cells. Calcium and magnesium are both electrically active and can both act as signals to promote different types of cellular actions. Magnesium is most active within cellular fluid and calcium entry into cells is limited in part by ion channels that are powered by magnesium. So a magnesium deficient cell can allow too much calcium to enter the cell and within the cell calcium can cause a variety of actions and can even over activate the cell to the point of cell death. (155,000 search results for “excess calcium overworks mitochondria” :   https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=excess%20calcium%20overworks%20mitochondria  and which includes a link about the nerve degeneration disease ALS: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2933290/  so it looks like if I want to protect myself from cancer or ALS I should not stress out my mitochondria by maintaining a good intake and internal balance of both magnesium and calcium.)

Another addition to look into more at some point – P53 and apoptosis has been found to be affeected by treatment with a homeopathic preparation (which would be a completely non-toxic energy based treatment. http://www.jcimjournal.com/articles/publishArticles/pdf/S2095-4964(16)60230-3.pdf

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

nErD does not stand for nearest Emergency room Department

I ran across the term nErD yesterday and I wasn’t sure what it might mean. My first thought as a health professional trained in medical acronyms was that it might have something to do with the ER or Emergency Room Department. In addition to the adult ICU (Intensive Care Unit) there is also a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) but there isn’t a neonatal emergency room department to my knowledge.

To my chagrin after a few seconds of puzzlement I noticed another reference to the term — “nerd” — and I felt like I should probably go see the movie “Revenge of the Nerds” again just as a refresher course.

Emergency Rooms have been on my mind for a while so that might explain my jumping to that idea first. At some point in the past I’ve shared this idea but I’ll reshare it because it could help provide safe and effective health care at an inexpensive price.

A patient can spend a lot of time waiting in an Emergency Department, to be seen or to be treated or for the test results to be ready or for the specialist to stop by. Some of that waiting time could be spent in a relaxing and potentially healing Epsom salt foot soak or bath.

Magnesium deficiency is estimated to be a problem for as many as 70-80% of the U.S. population. It can be an underlying factor in many chronic illnesses and chronic pain conditions and can be involved in acute substance abuse or mental health situations. A foot soak in Epsom salts can take slightly longer than a soak in an Epsom salt bath to achieve results but both can be helpful for relieving muscle cramps and some other types of pain such as migraines. Mental upset due to alcohol or other substance abuse or mental health conditions can also be soothed by soaking in Epsom salts. The amount of time to soak would vary depending on how deficient the person was in magnesium and might even be helpful as a diagnostic screening for magnesium deficiency (the mineral is largely stored within the interior of cells or within the bones so blood tests for magnesium only catch extremely severe cases of magnesium deficiency).

Excessive magnesium absorption can relax the muscles too much and may cause slowing of the heart rate and smooth muscle relaxation can also cause watery bowel movements. A hospital protocol might involve having an attendant start a patient with a non-open wound pain situation or upset mood in an Epsom salt foot soak or bath. The patient would be instructed on the early symptoms of excessive magnesium absorption and to let the attendant know if/when the first fluttery heart beats or relaxation of sphincter muscles was occurring. Typically a 20 minute Epsom salt bath is a good length of time while a forty minute bath might cause excess relaxation. Research suggested the ideal routine for a patient with difficulty absorbing magnesium from dietary sources would be approximately twenty minutes in a bath with one cup of Epsom salts every other day or three to four times per week. Taking the baths more often though can lead to symptoms of excess magnesium occurring sooner than twenty minutes, based on my personal experience with Epsom salt baths.

Alcohol and some other substances that are used excessively can cause magnesium deficiency which can cause irritability and even increase the risk for violence.

So if you or a loved one is upset or in pain that is not due to an open wound then it is possible that a trip to your bathroom for a Epsom salt bath might be soothing enough to skip a trip to the nearest Emergency room Department (you know, the nErD).

Excerpt from a previous post with more info about safely taking Epsom salt baths:

Time for an Epsom bath perhaps.

Epsom salt baths can be a well absorbed source of magnesium because skin absorption will bypass a problem of poor intestinal absorption of magnesium. Calcium tends to be preferentially absorbed by the intestines, especially when there is an imbalance in vitamin and hormone D levels and poor intestinal absorption of magnesium over time can easily lead to symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency are usually labeled something else by the medical profession because the problem is not obvious on lab tests until it is quite severe because the body takes more magnesium from the bones as needed up until the point where osteoporosis is severe  enough to cause a shortage of stored magnesium.

Soaking in a bathtub for twenty minutes that has one cup of Epsom salt to a half full bathtub, and one teaspoon of a cooking vinegar such as apple cider vinegar to balance the alkalinity of the Epsom salt, can be a cure for a bad mood as well as various achy muscle cramps if magnesium deficiency is an underlying problem. Negative symptoms can occur if you stay in the bath too long. Excess magnesium absorption can cause loose watery stools for an entire day, not just once. Falling asleep in the bath can also lead to more life threatening symptoms of a weak, and fluttery heart rate, or even lead to coma and/or death — so twenty minutes to forty minutes is probably safe for a deficient person while someone who isn’t deficient might notice a weak slowing heart rate sooner than the twenty minute average that a person deficient in magnesium might find only as calming and soothing to  their mood and muscles. A person who was deficient but who then started taking the baths regularly might start noticing the weak heart rate sooner — get out of the tub then, even if its not been twenty minutes — shower and rinse time. Research on the therapeutic use of Epsom salt baths recommended one cup Epsom salt to the half full/full bath and use up to three to four times per week, but not daily.

I can’t find the actual research study {here it is: http://george-eby-research.com/html/absorption_of_magnesium_sulfate.pdf }  among the following posts of mine (see below) but Dr. Oz has an article on the baths also and recommends the twenty minutes a few times a week also: [http://blog.doctoroz.com/oz-experts/restoring-magnesium-levels-with-epsom-salt-baths]

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.


A GMO labeling bill has passed the Senate but it may create loopholes in what will be considered GMO

Genetically modified organisms created for agricultural purposes may be required to be listed on food labels but the wording of the proposed legislation may allow some types of foods or ingredients to not be listed. Refined ingredients that would not be expected to contain “genetic” content (DNA or RNA) may not be required to be listed as GMO.

The risk to health however has to do with the proteins that the GMO DNA cause to be produced throughout the plant rather than the DNA itself. Allergens might be produced that weren’t present in the normal crops. And in Bt GMOs the Bt toxin is produced throughout the plant as an insecticide, even within the part we harvest for food use. And while it is believed to not be harmful to human health it was initially developed as an antibiotic and mineral chelator. And humans depend on having a healthy balance of microbes within the intestines and glyphosate may be harmful to them. A refined ingredient might not contain much DNA protein or much of a Bt endotoxin protein either but it would be nice to have a lab test showing that it wasn’t present in the refined ingredient rather than be concerned only about GMO DNA. Testing for glyphosate residue levels would be of interest to me also.

Read more about the Senate bill on GMO labeling, it is a bipartisan backed bill that is expected to pass the House:  http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-food-gmo-vote-idUSKCN0ZO08N

“About 75% of the foodstuffs at the grocery store are now genetically manipulated, in what has been called the world’s largest biological experiment on humans.” http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/36746-monsanto-bayer-and-the-push-for-corporate-cannabis

Sometimes progress can seem like progress but if it misinforms the public then is it really progress? A food label that claims to inform consumers about GMO content but which actually excludes major categories of refined ingredients that are based on GMO crops is providing disinformation – inaccurate information about the food’s content. Sick people who are trying to improve their health wouldn’t be able to trust the labels if the labels still allowed ingredients that were making the sick people to feel sicker. If the goal is supporting an individual’s right to know what is in their food then the labeling requirements ideally would include all types of GMO based ingredients whether the ingredient includes GMO DNA are not.

On a different but related topic — a couple recent posts [1, 2] included history about concerns I’ve had regarding excessive vitamin D and calcium supplementation, the new information I learned about glyphosate provides the likely solution – but more research is needed. The glyphosate information about CYP enzyme inhibition of vitamin D metabolism could be an explanation for the increase in low vitamin D levels observed in the U.S. population. And excessive supplementation with inactive vitamin D may not have been found to be helping as expected because of inhibition by the herbicide glyphosate.

A quote from a book on an unrelated topic: “When you solve a mystery, you destroy its power over you.”  – Dan Neuharth, Ph.D.,  If You Had Controlling Parents; How to Make Peace with Your Past and Take Your Place in the World. page 79, (Harper, 1998)

The question of why U.S. citizens had lower vitamin D levels than Canadians, when I knew our food supply had adequate amounts of vitamin D and that we would collectively be getting more sunshine than Canadians on average with most of the country being located farther south, was a mystery I’ve been pondering ever since learning of it in 2010.

And the inhibition of CYP enzymes by glyphosate could be a cause of low vitamin D levels that don’t respond well to supplementation and which could be affecting a large percentage of the population. There was a large increase of the herbicide with Round-Up ready GMO crops and with the introduction of glyphosate as a crop desiccant . (And magnesium deficiency may be another cause of low vitamin D levels when there is plenty of vitamin D available and which could be affecting a large percentage of the population, but more on that later.)

As a dietitian I was uncomfortable ethically in 2010 regarding the high dose supplements being given to people for long term treatment without monitoring the active hormone level and I am still uncomfortable about the potential risks for the minority of people who may develop elevated levels of the active hormone D. Elevated levels can cause worsening of chronic illness and even increase risk of death. A large number of studies have now been performed that have not found high dose supplements to be consistently helpful — and it turns out that the form of the supplements may be inhibited from being activated by glyphosate.

In past writing I’ve included information about types of infection that may be affecting hormone D metabolism in some people but infectious disease is likely to affect a smaller number of people than the population wide levels of low vitamin D that have been observed. Some pathogens are known to modify the vitamin D receptor metabolism. Inhibiting the vitamin D receptor would reduce immune function of the cell and allow the microbe to infect the cell. Infection likely is affecting vitamin D levels for some people but a food contaminant would likely affect a larger percentage of the population.

A GMO labeling law is progress but the law wouldn’t include crops that use glyphosate as a desiccant in addition to excluding some refined but GMO derived ingredients from being listed as GMO and it may be the glyphosate itself – the Round-up herbicide – in Round-up ready crops that is the biggest risk to health– not the genetically modified DNA. And similarly it may be the Bt toxin itself that the genetically modified DNA encodes for rather than the DNA that is a risk to health. The Bt toxin may be causing harm to the intestinal bacteria and may have been modified enough from the original Bt toxin that the genetically modified Bt toxin is now also a risk to the cell walls of human intestinal and red blood cells unlike the Bt toxin that previous research has been based on. Research with the GMO seeds by private research labs or scientists is being limited by the companies that own the GMO seed patents.

Intestinal bacteria can affect mood positively or negatively and an imbalance in magnesium, vitamin D, and calcium can also affect mood. My condolences to all of the families and individuals who have lost loved ones or friends to gun violence. Part of the reason I’ve been concerned about the excess supplementation of vitamin D is because an imbalance in vitamin and hormone D can lead to an imbalance in calcium and magnesium which can lead to severe irritability and even homicidal violence. Epsom salt baths are inexpensive and provide a form of magnesium that can be absorbed well even when there is an imbalance in the vitamin and hormone D levels which tends to promote calcium absorption in the intestines and increased magnesium losses in the kidneys.

Calcium is also important but the average U.S. diet tends to include many calcium rich sources and promote calcium supplements more than magnesium. Magnesium however is necessary for converting vitamin D into 25 hydroxy D and 1, 25 dihydroxy D in addition to CYP enzymes so magnesium deficiency might also be an underlying factor for low vitamin D levels that don’t respond well to vitamin D supplements.  “Data indicate a reduced risk of insufficient/deficient vitamin D status at high magnesium intake and an inverse association between circulating 25-hydroxy vitamin D and mortality, particularly cardiovascular mortality, among those with magnesium intake above the median.”  ~ People with more magnesium intake also had better vitamin D levels and reduced risk of death, particularly less risk of death due to heart disease.   http://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1741-7015-11-229

Unlike most other nutrients the blood levels of vitamin D can be affected in a number of different ways as it is actually a hormone rather than being simply controlled by intake of food or supplements. And levels of blood calcium and magnesium are also carefully controlled in a number of ways because they are electrically active. Excess calcium can cause muscle contractions and magnesium helps muscles relax. Excess calcium is associated with more severe coronary artery disease and magnesium deficiency is associated with heart attacks and strokes. Elevated hormone D tends to promote elevated calcium levels and may lead to heart disease and osteoporosis. Elevated calcium levels is also associated with increased risk for kidney failure. the following link has a chart that compares risks of elevated blood cholesterol and calcium and the difference is startling. http://blog.parathyroid.com/high-blood-calcium-risks/

Many nutrients are important (all of them in fact), and an older article (2013) reviews a variety of nutrients and research on violence and aggression and diet or other factors affecting violence such as psychiatric pharmaceuticals. Adequate omega 3 fatty acids may be protective. Cholesterol is essential too, low levels of it is associated with increased aggression according to the article. The review of research was in response to the increase in school shootings (2013): http://www.westonaprice.org/uncategorized/violent-behavior-a-solution-in-plain-sight/ – that link is to a site that promotes a diet based on the foods that are believed to have been available to ancient people. The article reviews a large number of nutrients and other topics and their possible role in promoting or preventing violence. Magnesium is just one of the many nutrients essential for health but it is also essential for a good mood. There were many other results for the search terms that I used, “magnesium deficiency violence aggression‘: https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=magnesium%20deficiency%20violence%20aggression

Solving the mystery has led to information that has helped my health and a GMO label law might make it easier for me to avoid GMO products but it might not be that helpful if the law is written so that many types of GMO ingredients wouldn’t be included and a GMO-free label actually meant only possibly GMO free. The labels wouldn’t be reliable if foods might still contain refined GMO ingredients and yet not be required to have the GMO label.

The list of foods that might be sources of glyphosate or Bt toxin:

It is our right to protect our health and I find my health is improved when I avoid or moderate use of some of those foods, I wasn’t aware of the specific oils on the list but had been avoiding excess poly-unsaturated oils in general because it may increase inflammation to have too little omega 3 fatty acids and too much of certain fatty acids found in poly-unsaturated fats..

  • An imbalance in the two types of fats has also been associated with increased aggression per a link provided earlier:  (2013):  http://www.westonaprice.org/uncategorized/violent-behavior-a-solution-in-plain-sight/
  • And having certain types of controlling parents has also been associated with increased risk for aggression or violence per the book I quoted earlier in this post: “When you solve a mystery, you destroy its power over you.”  – Dan Neuharth, Ph.D.,  If You Had Controlling Parents; How to Make Peace with Your Past and Take Your Place in the World. quote page 79, (Harper, 1998)

Glyphosate and the  GMO Bt toxin may be affecting our intestinal bacteria which can affect our moods. Disrupted vitamin D metabolism can lead to an imbalance in calcium and magnesium which can affect our moods. When the body works it seems simple but it isn’t.

The GMO labeling law has language that will identify ingredients as GMO by how refined they are rather than whether the whole food was a GMO or not. Information about GMO content would be helpful but a refined ingredient might still contain glyphosate residue or Bt toxin or other unknown allergens that may have developed during the genetic modification of the organism. Research and testing of those chemicals would be helpful. Labeling laws would be a challenge for the food industry to comply with. Working on using less glyphosate and GMO crops (that have been shown to potentially be hazardous to humans or the environment), seems like a more direct route to improving health to me.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

An article on Morgellons; a link, and a comment I added re keratinocytes

Morgellons, chapter from a book, skeptic busting or quack busting, but open-minded regarding the sufferers having a real itch problem rather than a delusional psychiatric disorder as the mainstream medical world is treating the condition. Sufferers have lost jobs due to a condition that has no physical diagnosis:[https://medium.com/matter/the-itch-nobody-can-scratch-4d980e3ac519#.tcwvu9neq]

It is horrible to have physical symptoms that are dismissed as “all in your head,” — that is no help if there is pain in your skin or under your skin.

I added a comment, slightly edited here:

Maybe they have overactive keratinocytes that produce Substance P and causes itch and neuropathic pain. Magnesium deficiency can lead to increased production of Substance P.

“Keratinocytes are able to detect itch-associated signals by expression of protease-activated receptor-2,[11] opioid,[12] cannabinoid[13] and histamine H4 receptors.[14] By responding to these signals, keratinocytes can modulate itch in many ways. For example, keratinocytes can release neurotrophins including NGF[15,16] and neurotrophin-4[17] (Fig. 1), lipid mediators[18] or endothelin-1,[19] which can either directly activate itch fibres in the skin or activate mast cells to release pruritogenic mediators. In addition, neuropeptides including substance P have been shown to significantly increase the release and production of NGF of human cultured keratinocytes, indicating a neuroimmune interaction mechanism between sensory nerves and keratinocytes[20] (Fig. 1). Interestingly, keratinocytes can also inhibit itch through the release of endocannabinoids, which bind directly to inhibitory receptors on sensory nerves.”

— so maybe the Morgellons sufferers have a defect or insufficiency in endocannabinoids. Epsom Salt baths for magnesium in case gastrointestinal absorption of magnesium is a problem might help, and supplements with phospholipids like phosphatidylcholine or phosphatidylserine might help if endocannabinoid deficiency is a problem — or chocolate, rosemary and nutmeg are food sources.

Excerpt from: “Pathophysiology of Itch and New Treatments,” Ulrike Raap; Sonja Ständer; Martin Metz, Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011;11(5):420–427. [http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/749608_2]

/Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and  the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Links about magnesium deficiency and Substance P, a neuropeptide associated with inflammation

Magnesium is Essential for Preventing Substance P Overload , May 24, 2011, by Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist , “Substance P is a neuropeptide that is typically ”over-heated” in situations of anxiety, depression, digestive bloating, insomnia, fibromyalgia, PTSD, and cardiovascular deterioration. New research shows that one of the first signs of magnesium deficiency1 is that it enables the over-production of substance P.” Read More:  [http://www.wellnessresources.com/health/articles/magnesium_is_essential_for_preventing_substance_p_overload/]

Raw shelled pumpkin seeds are a good source of magnesium, zinc, B vitamins and essential fatty acids. A few prenatal clients that I have worked with in the past, who were high risk due to a history of high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia during their first pregnancy, did report that the raw shelled pumpkin seeds that I had recommended they try adding to their diet during their second pregnancy did seem helpful for preventing high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia from reoccurring.  So it is also possible that raw unsalted pumpkin seeds may be a beneficial food for use during the perinatal stage for women who hope to prevent autism from developing in their infant during conception or the early weeks of pregnancy. [http://transcendingsquare.com/2014/07/24/magnesium-might-help-protect-against-beta-amyloid-placques/]

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Additional notes to think more about later:

  1. Gehan A Mostafa; Laila Y AL-Ayadhi, The Possible Link Between the Elevated Serum Levels of Neurokinin A and Anti-ribosomal P Protein Antibodies in Children with Autism, J Neuroinflammation. 2011;8(180) Excerpt from the background section: “Neurogenic inflammation is orchestrated by a large number of neuropeptides. Tachykinins (substance P, neurokinin A and neurokinin B) are pro-inflammatory neuropeptides that may play an important role in some autoimmune neuroinflammatory diseases. Autoimmunity may have a role in the pathogenesis of autism in some patients.” And an excerpt from the discussion section: “In our series, increased serum levels of anti-ribosomal P protein antibodies were found in 44.3% of autistic patients. This study was the first to investigate serum levels of anti-ribosomal P protein antibodies in autistic children.” [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3261830/]
  2. Julio Hernandez, et. al., Substance P Is Responsible for Physiological Alterations Such as Increased Chloride Ion Secretion and Glucose Malabsorption in CryptosporidiosisInfect. Immun. March 2007 vol. 75 no. 3 1137-1143
    [http://iai.asm.org/content/75/3/1137.full] *Cryptosporidiosis is a parasitic infection that can be more of a risk for AIDS patients than for average people — reason unknown — The reason speculatively might be that there is a magnesium deficiency or an elevated calcium level resulting from elevated hormone D levels underlying the increased risk for crypotosporidiosis in AIDS patients.
  3. Sylke Müller1 and Barbara Kappes, Vitamin and co-factor biosynthesis pathways in Plasmodium and other apicomplexan parasitesTrends Parasitol. 2007 Mar; 23(3): 112–121.
    This article is primarily about a few B vitamins and protozoan parasites but one section addresses vitamin D, Excerpt: “One way in which vitamin D3 might affect Plasmodium is through its involvement in phospholipid metabolism and signalling pathways 60. Vitamin D3 and analogues have pronounced inhibitory effects on P. falciparum erythrocytic late stage development possibly because the phospholipid biosynthesis pathways of the parasite is affected by these compounds 61. Inhibition of phospholipid biosynthesis by other classes of inhibitors (for instance choline analogues) has been followed up extensively 62, 63 and it is likely that these inhibitors will be developed as new drugs against malaria in the near future 64. Thus the activity of vitamin D3 analogues merits further attention.” [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2330093/]
  4. 60. Boyan BD, et al. 1,25-(OH)2D3 modulates growth plate chondrocytes via membrane receptor-mediated protein kinase C by a mechanism that involves changes in phospholipid metabolism and the action of arachidonic acid and PGE2. Steroids. 1999;64:129–136. [PubMed] *Roughly this title could be translated into: Hormone D affects growth plate cartilage cells by affecting the endogenous cannabinoid system, — arachidonic acid and PGE2 can be formed from cannabinoids that are released from storage within cell membranes. Elevated levels of calcium intracellularly can be a trigger signalling the release of endogenous cannbinoids from the membranes.
  5. 7. Regulation of growth plate chondrocytes and bone cells,                                        Excerpt: “In recent years it has been demonstrated that a large number of growth factors and cytokines regulate the proliferation and differentiation of bone and cartilage cells in vitro and in vivo (Table 2). This subject has been extensively reviewed (Goldring & Goldring, 1990; Canalis, McCarthy & Centrella, 1988a; Price & Russell, 1992; Martin, 1989). There is also increasing evidence that abnormal production of cytokines in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis may result in inappropriate responses by bone and cartilage cells. Those cytokines and growth factors considered to be of particular importance during bone development and growth include the IGFs, TGF a and b, bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), FGF, PDGF and epidermal growth factor (EGF). Many of the cell types present in the microenvironment of growing bone contribute to the local synthesis of cytokines and growth factors including the resident endothelial cells, marrow stromal cells, osteoblasts, periosteal cells and chondrocytes. The haemopoetic cells present in bone marrow include circulating monocytes, macrophages and T cells; these are another potential source of cytokines. In fact, several lines of evidence point to there being a close relationship between bone cells and cells of the immune system (Skjodt & Russell, 1993).”

    7.12. Parathyroid hormone related peptide (PTHrP)

    “PTHrP is a peptide closely related to PTH that is produced by normal tissues, with similar effects to PTH on bone. It has been established as having an important role in regulating the hypercalcaemia that is associated with some malignancies (Webb et al., 1988). PTHrP has also been identified as a fetal hormone which may regulate placental calcium (Ca2+) flux (Orloff, 1989). This peptide may also have an important role in skeletal development, having been localised in embryonic bone, and a recent study has shown that mice with a defective PTHrP gene have multiple skeletal abnormalities (Karaplis et al., 1992).” [http://archive.unu.edu/unupress/food2/UID06E/UID06E0V.HTM]

  6. Arnold J. Felsenfeld, et. al., Dynamics of Parathyroid Hormone Secretion in Health and Secondary HyperparathyroidismCJASN November 2007 vol. 2no. 6 1283-1305 [http://cjasn.asnjournals.org/content/2/6/1283.full]

  7. S. C. Kukreja, et. al., Antibodies to parathyroid hormone-related protein lower serum calcium in athymic mouse models of malignancy-associated hypercalcemia due to human tumors. J Clin Invest. 1988 Nov; 82(5): 1798–1802 [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC442751/] Abstract: “A parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) has recently been isolated from tumors associated with hypercalcemia. In the present study, we tested the effects of neutralizing antisera to the PTHrP on serum calcium and urine cAMP in two animal models of malignancy-associated hypercalcemia. The animal models consisted of (a) a human squamous cell lung cancer and (b) a human laryngeal cancer, both serially carried in athymic mice. The antisera specifically reduced the elevated serum calcium and urinary cAMP levels in the tumor-bearing animals. We conclude that PTHrP plays a major role in the pathogenesis of malignancy-associated hypercalcemia.”

  8. Moniz C., et. al., Parathyroid hormone-related peptide in normal human fetal development., J Mol Endocrinol. 1990 Dec;5(3):259-66. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2288637Abstract:

    “Parathyroid hormone-related peptide (PTHrP) has been detected in fetal serum and amniotic fluid. Using a combination of immunocytochemistry and molecular biology we have detected the peptide and its mRNA in a variety of fetal tissues throughout gestation. Tissue-specific mRNA isoforms were observed, the pattern of hybridization of which changed throughout gestation. In addition, the intensity and pattern of immunocytochemical localization of the peptide was found to vary over the time-period studied (8-30 weeks). PTHrP is expressed by a variety of tumours associated with the syndrome of humoral hypercalcaemia of malignancy and probably accounts for the hypercalcaemia by virtue of its limited amino acid homology with parathyroid hormone. These data demonstrate for the first time that PTHrP, a tumour-related peptide, is expressed during normal human fetal development, and suggest the possibility that it may function to regulate fetal calcium balance and growth in utero.”


  9. “Parathyroid hormone-related peptide (PTHrP) can be elevated in pregnant and lactating women and in newborn infants. Nonmalignant conditions that have been described in association with elevated plasma PTHrP levels include systemic lupus erythematosus, HIV-associated lymphadenopathy, lymphedema of chest or pleural cavities, and with benign tumors of the ovary, kidney and the neuroendocrine system.” [http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Clinical+and+Interpretive/81774]
  10. Shane T. Mortimer, David A. Hanley, William K. Stell, Immunohistochemical identification of calcitonin gene-related peptide and substance P in nerves of the bovine parathyroid gland., Cell and Tissue Research
    , Volume 261, Issue 2, pp 339-345, [http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00318675Summary:

    “Although peptide neurotransmitters have been shown to modulate hormone secretion in many glands, there are very few studies of neurotransmitters in the parathyroid gland. Bovine parathyroid glands were collected at a local abattoir, fixed with paraformaldehyde, sectioned using a cryostat, and stained by indirect immunohistochemistry for calcitonin gene-related peptide and substance P. We were able to positively identify both neuropeptides. Nerve fibres containing calcitonin gene-related peptide and substance P were identified in contact with the tunica media of arteries and arterioles and dispersed throughout the stroma of the gland. While many of the fibres encircled parenchymal lobules, no intimate contact with the peripheral chief cells was observed. All immunoreactive fibres were found to contain both neuropeptides. Since calcitonin gene-related peptide and substance P are vasodilators, they may increase blood flow within the gland. In addition, the neuropeptides may diffuse from perilobular nerve fibres into the parenchyma, thereby modulating secretion of parathyroid hormone.”

  11. And for the swish and score — calcitonin gene-related peptide is associated with migraine attacks — hmmmmm — health is a miracle when it works. [https://migraine.com/blog/what-is-calcitonin-gene-related-peptide-cgrp/]

Kidney dialysis may be a side effect of sugarcane production in Nicaragua; a link

Chronic kidney disease has become a problem for almost half of the adult men in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua. The disease seems to the linked to the men’s work cutting sugar cane. The exact cause of the problem is unknown but it is suspected that dehydration is a factor due to the hot working conditions with limited time for breaks. Read more: [1] Chronic kidney disease might be less of a risk associated with their jobs if sugarcane workers were allowed enough time to take breaks to prevent dehydration from occurring, as dehydration itself can cause long term harm to the kidneys. [2]

As a consumer of sugarcane products I care about whether sugarcane workers are allowed their right to protect their health during their workday. As a human I care about the worker’s pain and shortened lifespans and about their families. Chronic kidney disease and kidney dialysis treatment require the patient to follow a very restrictive diet and the treatment requires the patient to stay attached to the dialysis machine for hours every few days.  Providing adequate breaks to the workers now seems like an easier strategy in the long run, to me.

There is also a question of gender representation — Why aren’t half of the women suffering from chronic kidney failure too? If the disease was caused by something in the environment it would show up in a more even distribution, men and women would be sick in equal numbers. If the disease is associated with cutting sugarcane then maybe women aren’t getting it because more men then women are working as sugarcane cutters. Likely cutting sugarcane is very physically demanding work and male skeletal structure and muscle mass on average simply is stronger and larger than female anatomy. Machines able to navigate sugarcane fields might be invented to do the job but that solution would be taking away yet more jobs from humans and a risky job, unfortunately, is better than no job for many people because, unlike corporations, people have to eat to survive.

Working in hot conditions causes a loss of fluid and electrolytes contained in sweat and overheating may further increase the amount of sweat that is produced. Evaporation of sweat can have a cooling effect on the body. Intense physical exercise in hot and humid conditions may cause losses of up to three liters of sweat which is almost equivalent to the water content of the body’s blood supply.  [3] Workers need to have enough time to drink, eat and cool down to help prevent the risk of acute dehydration and the risk of it causing lasting damage to the kidneys.

Allowing workers frequent breaks in the shade might give their bodies time to cool down and slow down the loss of nutrients caused by excessive sweating, and allow them enough time to drink water and have a salty magnesium rich snack to replace the nutrients that were lost in sweat or used by the kidneys. The water and potassium in a piece of fruit and a salty magnesium rich snack like tortilla chips would help replace the water, sodium, potassium, and magnesium that are essential for the kidneys function. [4] The kidneys have to have enough nutrients to be able to filter out the toxins that are produced daily as a normal part of physiology and any extra toxins created by a job with hard physical labor and then still have enough nutrients to filter out any additional toxins that may have been absorbed from working around the agricultural chemicals.

4/18/2017, Update: dehydration is still suspected to be involved in the increased incidence of chronic kidney disease in agricultural workers. The problem is more widespread however than just Nicaragua. Pesticides from agriculture or silica from contaminated ground water is suspected to be involved. Use of painkillers and alcohol in the evenings combined with the limited access of water during the work day is also suspected to add to the risk of chronic kidney damage occurring.  [5]

Associations were reported with agricultural work, agrochemical exposure, dehydration, hypertension, homemade alcohol use and family history of chronic kidney disease. There is no strong evidence for a single cause, and multiple environmental, occupational and social factors are probably involved.” [6]

Part of the problem is that symptoms don’t occur until fairly serious permanent damage has developed. Earlier diagnosis by use of more frequent screening of certain lab tests may help but families need to eat and someone needs to work. Young adult sons take over when their father is no longer able to work. The disabled men are a financial and physical burden for the family and the number of widows has increased in many of the areas that have been experiencing an increase in the number of adult workers with severe chronic kidney disease. A sense of futility in the men may be part of the problem too – you can’t prevent what you don’t feel you have any control over. [5]

Preventative health care can help prevent damaging chemicals from collecting in the kidneys. And having adequate magnesium and water throughout the day and evening can help the kidneys detoxify and remove the chemicals before damage develops. Having water and some salty snacks or peanuts along with alcoholic beverages in the evening can help the body detoxify and remove the toxic effect of alcohol before it has a chance to cause damage to the kidneys either.

Agricultural companies might save money on employee turnover and sick days if they provided filtered water [8] and adequate work breaks, especially during the hottest part of the day.

A video about the condition and research regarding the increased incidence in El Salvador is available with subtitles in English, Enfermedad Renal Crónica: NefroSalva Clínico (El Salvador): [7]

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

  1. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/01/150129-sugarcane-workers-kidney-disease-nicaragua-health-ngfood/
  2. http://www.kidneyfailureweb.com/causes-others/767.html
  3. http://www.texasheart.org/hic/topics/hsmart/hydrate.cfm
  4. http://transcendingsquare.com/?p=967
  5.  http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/03/mysterious-kidney-disease-goes-global
  6. Associations were reported with agricultural work, agrochemical exposure, dehydration, hypertension, homemade alcohol use and family history of chronic kidney disease. There is no strong evidence for a single cause, and multiple environmental, occupational and social factors are probably involved.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24878644
  7. Enfermedad Renal Crónica: NefroSalva Clínico (El Salvador), a video from El Salvador: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tk9wcMyRG1E&feature=youtu.be
  8. 6 types of water filtering devices designed for developing nations: http://inhabitat.com/6-water-purifying-devices-for-clean-drinking-water-in-the-developing-world/

Magnesium might help protect against beta amyloid placques

Working on experimental medications for a prenatal population places the infants at risk in addition to the female patients. In my professional experience instructing clients about raw pumpkin seeds and the DASH diet frequently helped prevent preeclampsia or high blood pressure problems from reoccurring for patients with a history of having had the problem during a previous pregnancy. Pumpkin seed kernels are similar to sunflower seeds, both are good sources of magnesium and many other nutrients. The DASH diet promotes eating a serving of nuts, seeds or beans daily as a source of magnesium. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. [1]

Additional note: *Raw pumpkin seeds were my recommendation because the toasted salted ones can be very salty which would dilute the amount of magnesium naturally available in the seed compared to the large amount of sodium available from the added salt. Excess sodium can cause increased urinary losses of magnesium in the average person and may increase risk of high blood pressure in people who are salt sensitive. [5]

In a recent study conducted in 19 hypertensive patients after 2 months of adherence to a low (50 mmol/d) and high (200 mmol/d) sodium intake, the investigators observed an increase in intracellular (erythrocyte) calcium and sodium concentrations and a reduction in magnesium concentration during salt loading, primarily in salt-sensitive subjects.82 [5]

Nutritional strategies recommended to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease include increasing intake of magnesium. Research has found that low levels of magnesium promoted build up of  beta amyloid protein while high levels of magnesium promoted breakdown of the misshapen proteins.

“Lab studies show that magnesium modulates enzymes involved in amyloid beta production; at low levels, magnesium favors amyloid beta buildup, while at higher levels it favors amyloid beta breakdown.101,102″ [2]

That article also contains good news for coffee drinkers; drinking 3 to 5 cups of caffeinated coffee per day is associated with reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The article suggests that the caffeine content itself seems to provide the protective effects. [2] Coffee is also a good source of magnesium, perhaps that is a coincidence. However three to five cups of coffee is more than is recommended during pregnancy; one cup per day is likely safe while six cups of coffee per day may be harmful for pregnancy. The article also recommends blueberries and curcumin (found in turmeric which is commonly used in mustard and in curry powder) which would be safe during pregnancy.

The misshapen proteins have a protective effect against bacteria and the yeast Candida albicans so a chronic lowgrade infection may be an underlying cause of the accumulation of beta amyloid placques. [3] [4]

/Disclaimer: This information is for educational or entertainment purposes, see a health professional for individual medical guidance./

Pre-eclampsia, Magnesium Deficiency, or Grass Staggers?

Pre-eclampsia is a frequent and life threatening problem for pregnant and postpartum women that can occur prenatally or up to 48 hours after delivery. The primary cause of the syndrome has been unrecognized in the medical field. However, the treatment and prevention of magnesium deficiency has been well understood in the dairy industry and the symptoms of the two conditions are very similar.

We study animals in medical research because it is unethical to experiment on humans. Farmers and vets care for dairy animals because it is ethical and profitable to help maintain their health. What they learn can help us understand other mammals too – such as humans.

Hypomagnesemia, also known as grass staggers, can occur in the pregnant or postpartum cow, but it can also occur in herds feeding on low magnesium fields. Weakness and falls occur in the cattle and they recover when feed is provided that contains adequate magnesium. The best treatment is prevention by providing extra magnesium if the feed has low levels. [1]

Magnesium deficiency can cause leg cramps, constipation, weakness, falling, cardiac arrythmias, edema and hypertension, anemia and poor immune health, ringing in the ears, irritability and headaches, and when severe seizures are possible. [2] I have had some of these symptoms – including the “wobbles” – feeling weak in the legs and almost stumbling. These symptoms are quite similar to those described for pre-eclampsia and at its most severe seizures are also a risk.

Current care for a human with pre-eclampsia might involve calcium channel blocker pharmaceuticals prenatally for controlling hypertension and intravenous doses of magnesium sulfate in the ER or delivery room for preventing or treating eclamptic seizures. Calcium causes muscle fibers to contract and magnesium allows them to relax.

Calcium channel blockers are patent-able pharmaceuticals trying to perform the job nature assigned to magnesium. The movement of potassium and sodium through ion channels in nerve cell membranes is well understood. A similar interaction is known about calcium and magnesium in the contraction of muscle fibers. Magnesium is the main gate keeper inside of the cell; it can prevent entry of calcium. When low on magnesium the muscles may be flooded with calcium and the constant contraction of the muscle fibers can turn into early labor cramps and possibly seizures.

Puffy ankles (edema) means intracellular fluid is leaking out and more calcium channel blockers are necessary, but more magnesium please. The prenatal woman is low in magnesium because she has been using extra to grow a baby – she can’t grow a baby out of pharmaceuticals.

Eight percent of pregnancies may be affected by pre-eclampsia/eclampsia and the current medical recommendation suggests that calcium and aspirin might help. [4] A different source states that the condition is a problem for up to 10% of women in developing nations and affects between 3-5% of pregnancies for women in the USA. [9]  Pregnant people are already told to consume extra calcium in their diets. If that strategy were working then why do eight percent of pregnancies still have pre-eclampsia problems?

Magnesium supplements have been reported to be helpful for preventing leg cramps during pregnancy in one study but results from another study didn’t replicate the results. [5]  A large study has begun based in Brazil that plans to provide the trial group of prenatal participants with two 150 mg magnesium supplements per day throughout the pregnancy in the hopes of preventing pre-eclampsia and reducing the number of infants born prematurely or at a low birth weight. [10] Another study focused on assessing the difference in long term mineral status of patients who had pre-eclampsia prenatally compared to those who didn’t. The results found that long term calcium status was the same which does not support the current theory that calcium deficiency is involved in the condition. [11]

A different study focused on the difference in current trace mineral status between patients with pre-eclampsia and those without. Blood levels of copper, zinc, selenium, calcium and magnesium were measured. Copper was the only mineral found to have similar levels between the two groups. The blood level of the other four minerals was significantly lower in women who had pre-eclampsia then in the group without the condition during their pregnancy. [12]

When the body is too low in magnesium then the body will increase hormone levels that cause a drop in calcium levels. Too much calcium and too little magnesium in the blood can cause heart symptoms so there are several ways the body can prevent an imbalance between blood levels of calcium and magnesium. A study that looked at whether magnesium sensitive genes were involved in blood pressure control during pregnancy did find that one was more active in pregnancy compared the non-pregnant group.  The gene TRPM6 was more active in the pregnant group than in women in the control group. [13]

Other research regarding the condition has noted an increased risk among close family members (mothers, daughters, sisters – if one has pre-eclampsia, other close female relatives are statistically more likely to also experience it in their pregnancies.)

A study that measured the vitamin D, hormone D, parathyroid hormone, albumin, and calcium blood levels of postpartum women who had had pre-eclampsia and those wh0 hadn’t during their pregnancies and found no significant difference in any of the levels between the two groups. Both groups had low vitamin D levels but normal levels of hormone D, parathyroid hormone, albumin and calcium. [15]

A study at the University of Benin found a significant correlation between low magnesium and increased prevalence of pre-eclampsia. The study concludes with a clear recommendation that consuming magnesium rich foods during pregnancy may improve the outcome:

“Pre-eclampsia and pre-term birth are associated with hypomagnesemia in pregnancy; hence, magnesium supplementation or magnesium-rich diet consisting of green leafy vegetables, soy milk and legumes may improve outcome.  [14]

A review of research regarding magnesium and prenatal health also concluded with a recommendation for pregnant women to consume adequate magnesium rich foods:

This review provides recommendations for further study and improved testing using measurement of red cell magnesium. Pregnant women should be counseled to increase their intake of magnesium-rich foods such as nuts, seeds, beans, and leafy greens and/or to supplement with magnesium at a safe level. [16]

Magnesium sulfate is used during labor and delivery to help prevent seizures in women with pre-eclampsia/eclampsia. I was told that the large dose feels painfully like fire in the veins. Which makes sense because it is an electrically active ion typically found in large amounts only within cell fluid rather than also freely available within the blood plasma. Some clients were very motivated to eat better if it would help prevent blood pressure problems from reoccurring and reduce the possibility of IV magnesium from being necessary. Simple solutions like pumpkin seeds and the DASH diet may be safer too. The high dose of intravenous magnesium sulfate can lead to cardiac problems and patients who receive the treatment are carefully monitored which takes additional staff time and other medical resources. [6]

Ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NAISDs) may help protect the infant during pregnancy if an infection is also part of the problem underlying pre-eclampsia. The ibuprofen helps reduce an increase in cytokines. The cytokine flood is an inflammatory reaction that may be associated with an increased risk to the infant for mental health problems developing later in life. [7]

Pre-eclampsia can be prevented by eating more magnesium rich foods throughout pregnancy. Beans, nuts, seeds and dark green vegetables are rich in magnesium. Chocolate is a good source, and there is a little magnesium in most foods. Whole grains are also good sources except the phytate content reduces mineral absorption. Shelled pumpkin seed kernels are similar to sunflower seeds in texture but they are greenish in color. Both are good sources of magnesium and other nutrients. Pumpkin seeds are a good vegetarian source of zinc, an essential trace mineral.

Mom and baby need magnesium daily. Having a moderate calcium intake will actually help both nutrients to be more usable to the body, baby, and bones. Frequent use of carbonated drinks, coffee, black tea, and acidic juices can cause the kidneys to waste magnesium. A diet high in meats and dairy products is also acid producing during breakdown and bone stores of magnesium may be used during excretion of the waste products if magnesium isn’t available from the diet. Our kidneys actively save calcium while using magnesium to remove the excess acid or excess calcium. Use of calcium rich OTC drugs like Tums or Rolaids frequently may decrease magnesium.

The intestines may not be absorbing magnesium well. Calcium is rare in nature except in dairy products. Our bodies expect lots of magnesium and not much calcium from our day’s intake. Too much vitamin D, when active, can cause even more calcium absorption in the intestines.

Magnesium containing skin creams may reduce leg cramps and other prenatal discomforts. Epsom salt foot soaks or baths can be soothing and nourishing as well.

Herbal teas are very nourishing in general – a few would not be recommended with pregnancy but raspberry leaf tea has been used successfully for generations.

“Raspberry leaves as well as the fruit contain many valuable vitamins needed during pregnancy. As well as containing iron, they are rich in vitamins A, C, B, E, calcium, manganese and magnesium. Magnesium particularly contributes to the strengthening of the uterine muscles.” [18]

The DASH diet was designed for helping prevent or manage high blood pressure rather than for pregnancy but pre-eclampsia can involve high blood pressure and the diet includes more emphasis on magnesium rich foods than the standard diet plans. The DASH diet plan includes a group for beans/nuts/seeds which are all good sources of magnesium. [8]

A prenatal diet plan is primarily different from a standard woman’s diet plan by having one additional dairy serving for extra calcium and the equivalent of one additional mixed snack during the second and third trimesters. During the first trimester calorie needs are similar to standard. Make the additional mixed snack a magnesium rich snack and pre-eclampsia might not become a problem. Corn chips and bean dip, peanut butter toast, or pumpkin seed kernels in a trail mix would all be snacks containing magnesium and other nutrients.

Continuing a diet with more magnesium, zinc, selenium, and adequate calcium intake may also help protect women with a history of pre-eclampsia from experiencing heart disease symptoms later in life. An association has been observed in medical research between a history of having had pre-eclampsia and increased risk of heart disease. [17] The DASH diet was designed to help reduce cardiovascular risks associated with high blood pressure. Continuing to follow the diet plan may help protect against heart disease.

Differences in the TRPM6 gene may underlie both the risk for pre-eclampsia and for heart disease risk. In an animal based study providing adequate magnesium helped protect the animals with differences in the TRPM6 gene. [19] TRPM6 channels are more prevalent in epithelial cells (type of cell that forms the skin and the lining of the GI tract) while TRPM7 channels are common throughout the body. Both types transport magnesium. Evidence suggests the TRPM7 type are involved in hypertension. [20] TRPM7 channels may be more involved in risk of heart attack (myocardial ischemia). [21]

More information about TRP channels is included in this post about Irritable Bowel Syndrome: http://transcendingsquare.com/2016/03/30/and-what-do-osmomechanical-stress-changes-of-temperature-chili-powder-curry-powder-ginger-benicar-hormone-d-steroids-and-cannabinoids-have-in-common/

Which led me to wonder if there is any association between IBS and pre-eclampsia – one study found some co-occurrence that was not statistically significant. There was an increased risk (25-30%) found for miscarriage and having a diagnosis of IBS  and depression/anxiety prior to becoming pregnant (how severe the symptoms was not assessed). [22]

A hypothesis regarding intrauterine pressure and pre-eclampsia mentions that it is associated with cell stress and decreased magnesium levels were noted:

“Jarosz et al. reported that in lab animals exposed to IAH of 25 mmHg, histology of the brain demonstrated evidence of ischemic neuronal cell stress and decreased magnesium levels [73].” [23]

A brief background regarding TRP channels – they act as pressure release valves so that organs leak rather than overfill. As a visual picture think of blowing up a balloon, eventually you have to stop or it will pop. The TRP channels would allow the balloon to leak instead of popping. The channels are located throughout the body and are formed from a large protein or group of proteins that cross the cell membranes. Magnesium is an electrically active mineral that provides the energy required to keep the channels closed and only allow transport of desired chemicals through the channel.

Having too little magnesium available leaves the channels without energy to stay closed and prevent fluid or other chemicals from crossing through the channel. Depending on the difference in pressure fluid and chemicals might rush into the cell from the surrounding fluid (extracellular fluid) or fluid and chemicals might rush out of the cell (intracellular fluid) into the surrounding fluid.

The hypothesis about intrauterine pressure and pre-eclampsia includes background information on the condition but magnesium is only referenced (see the excerpt above), its role in TRP channels was not discussed.

Emergency guidance suggested having the woman experiencing severe symptoms physically get into a kneeling position or lay horizontally on their left side:

Within the limitations of this analysis, data suggest that IAP may be altered throughout pregnancy by modifying the maternal position (altering the force direction), with the lowest pressure values obtained in knee–chest and left lateral positions. The negative pressure values obtained in the knee–chest position are important, as inversion of the maternal abdomen may provide an easily available and effective emergency intervention for PE, should this hypothesis be confirmed.” [23]

The article doesn’t provide further description of the position. My guess is a position that was recommended at the time I was pregnant for helping prevent breech delivery – get on hands and knees and then lower the chest and head to the floor, and then relax and stay there a while, having a pillow and watching TV is okay. Yes, see here, scroll down the page: [24]

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

  1. Grass Staggers In Cattle & Sheep, http://www.dairy-direct.co.uk/?p=2868
  2. Magnesium Fact Sheet for Health Professionals, NIH,  https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
  3. Effects of Antenatal exposure to Magnesium Sulfate on Neuroprotection and Mortality in Preterm Infants :Maged M. Costantine, MD, Steven J. Weiner, MS, Obstet Gynecol. 2009 August; 114(2 Pt 1): 354-364
  4. Magnesium deficiency-induced spasms of umbilical vessels: relation to preeclampsia, hypertension, growth retardation. Pub:Science, 221 (July 22, 1983): pp376(2)Burton M. Altura, Bella T. Altura and Anthony Carella
  5. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-998-magnesium.aspx?activeIngredientId=998&activeIngredientName=magnesium
  6. http://www.webmd.com/baby/tc/pregnancy-and-epilepsy-topic-overview
  7. http://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2011/09/12/in-the-magazine/health-in-the-magazine/viral-link-mental-illness.html
  8. http://dashdiet.org/default.asp
  9. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/preeclampsia/conditioninfo/Pages/risk.aspx
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4096428/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24102858
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23825993
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26104253
  14. Enaruna NO1, Ande A, Okpere EE., Clinical significance of low serum magnesium in pregnant women attending the University of Benin Teaching Hospital. Niger J Clin Pract. 2013 Oct-Dec;16(4):448-53. 
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24853885
  16. Dalton LM, et al., Magnesium in Pregnancy, Nutr Rev. 2016 Sep;74(9):549-57.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27445320
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25721023
  18. Ferguson, Patricia. “Turning over a new leaf for pregnancy: London-based medical herbalist and ‘living food educator’ Patricia Ferguson discusses how raspberry leaves can help pregnancy.(Raspberry leaves).” Royal College of Midwives Journal. Ten Alps Publishing. 2009. HighBeam Research. 16 Feb. 2011 .
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27991852
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18192217
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24445530
  22. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/761575
  23. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306987714002722
  24. https://www.glowm.com/section_view/heading/Umbilical%20Cord%20Prolapse%20and%20Other%20Cord%20Emergencies/item/136
  25. edited by Richard A. King, Jerome I. Rotter, Arno G. Motulsky  The Genetic Basis of Common Diseases, page 539 https://books.google.com/books?id=xKC4swxJC1UC&pg=PA539&lpg=PA539&dq=intrauterine+pressure+in+black+women%27s+pelvic+structure&source=bl&ots=M9TWK8OdYd&sig=YRYuD908NTDc-CChVhIDWKE1l6c&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjA6qicgsbTAhVHxlQKHWyWBigQ6AEIQDAE#v=onepage&q=intrauterine%20pressure%20in%20black%20women’s%20pelvic%20structure&f=false
  26. G. Ghosh, Racial/ethnic differences in pregnancy-related hypertensive disease in nulliparous women,