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A friend of mine has been advocating "magnesium oil" as an alternative to oral magnesium supplements. Products based on this are widely advertised and promoted on the web.

But in this Skeptics Stack Exchange discussion Does an Epsom salt bath provide relief from muscular pain? sources are cited saying that magnesium is not efficiently absorbed trandermally, e.g., http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1535370214537745, but unfortunately Sage is behind a paywall so I can't access the full-text article.

On the other side of the argument is this article in Nutrition Practitioner by Watkins and Josling http://www.cnelm.com/NutritionPractitioner/Issues/Issue_11_1/Articles/7%20Transdermal%20Mg%20revised2.pdf claiming in their small study to demonstrate efficient absorption of magnesium transdermally.

An important difference between the Epsom salt question and the "magnesium oil" claims is the role (if any) of being in a lipid suspension (or is it a solution - I have no idea what "magnesium oil" is.)

So does the presence of the oil somehow make it possible to absorb magnesium though the skin, in a way that a magnesium salt in an aqueous solution wouldn't, or is the Watkins and Josling article Bad Science?

  • Try health.stackexchange.com – fredsbend May 23 '17 at 3:46
  • The difference between water and fat is a pretty big one. – fredsbend May 23 '17 at 3:47
  • Paywall? You can access the PDF here for free. – Laurel May 23 '17 at 4:15
  • The Watkins and Josling article certainly raises a few red flags for me - their abstract mentions "detoxification of heavy metals" and they highlight a particular magnesium oil brand in their abstract. Detoxification is pretty much a meaningless marketing term (for example: skeptics.stackexchange.com/a/28427). I would be fairly surprised to learn that this wasn't the company doing some tests on their product and writing it up to make it look like it has a strong scientific basis. – Rob Watts May 23 '17 at 21:39
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There is no oil in magnesium oil. It just means aqueous magnesium chloride.

See statement by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman here.

and Magnesium oil:

Magnesium oil is a concentrated, aqueous solution ... Magnesium oil is actually not an oil, but instead is a high-density solution of concentrated magnesium chloride (33%)

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