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Category: magnesium

Chronic itch, ion channels, magnesium and calcium

Genetic differences in more than 70 genes have been associated with increased itchiness. [1] Calcium and serotonin levels may be involved in increased itch or arthritis pain signals being sent/perceived. [2] See the excerpts below:

Summary: Too much or too little calcium and magnesium can affect pain, itching, and mood. The minerals are both electrically active, and provide energy for ion channels which control the transport of messenger chemicals like serotonin across cell membranes – such as nerve cell membranes.

“For neurons to become excited, you need a receptor to communicate with an ion channel,” said Dr. Bautista. “We tried a variety of experiments and found that HTR7 communicates with the TRPA1 ion channel. Both receptors seem to be working together to mediate chronic itch.” “The researchers found more than 70 genes whose expression was higher in the more itch-sensitive mice. Of these, the gene for the HTR7 receptor was the most closely linked to itch. In fact, the HTR7 gene was twice as active in the itchiest mice compared to the least sensitive mice. ”  [1]

  1. An Itch You Just Can’t Scratch; NIH-funded study identifies proteins that may cause chronic itch (Oct. 27, 2015) http://www.ninds.nih.gov/news_and_events/news_articles/pressrelease_chronic_itch_10272015.htm
  2. Adam Horvath, et al., Transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1) receptor is involved in chronic arthritis: in vivo study using TRPA1-deficient mice, Arthritis Res Ther. 2016; 18: 6http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4718022/          

    Excerpt: “TRPA1 is also directly stimulated by intracellular calcium [24] and a broad range of noxious endogenous oxidative products, such as 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal, hydrogen peroxide, hypochloride, hydrogen sulphide, 15-delta prostaglandin J2 [2528]. Furthermore, there are several exogenous irritants like mustard oil (allyl isothiocyanate: AITC) [29], cinnamaldehyde [30, 31], allicin [32, 33] and formalin [34] that are known to be potent agonists of TRPA1. Inflammatory mediators, such as bradykinin and serotonin, can sensitize this receptor and increase the responsiveness of the nerve endings [19, 35]. These findings suggest that TRPA1 may be involved in the development and maintenance of arthritic pain, but the precise mechanisms are still unknown.”

  3. Rs6295: The “Single” and “Self-Transcendent” Gene (5-HT1A Receptor) https://selfhacked.com/2015/07/23/rs6295-the-single-and-self-transcendent-gene-5-ht1a-receptor/Magnesium and Calcium increase the binding of serotonin to the 5HT1A receptors in the cortex (purkinje cells). (R)

  4. Bujalska M., et. al., Magnesium ions and opioid agonist activity in streptozotocin-induced hyperalgesia. Pharmacology. 2008;82(3):180-6.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18701828

  5. That Really Does Make It Worse

    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.

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

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.


Electrolytes are essential, magnesium helps protect brain cells

     Our bodies are like an ocean, not a fresh water lake. Our blood and cell fluid has a balance of salts and proteins that are essential for keeping things flowing and interacting as needed. Salts in our body are called electrolytes and they work in a buddy system.
Sodium and potassium are buddies that chemically can donate one electron for chemical bonds or energy interactions and calcium and magnesium can donate two electrons each. These minerals power nerve signals, muscle contractions and the movement of chemicals across cell membranes. All four are equally essential to have in our diet everyday.• Salt (Sodium chloride) has been a valuable trade commodity in ancient cultures. Seafood and salt mines are good sources.

Potassium is found in all fruits and vegetables.

Calcium is found in hard water, in dairy products, almonds, sesame seeds, beans, greens, canned fish, fortified foods.

Magnesium is found in hard water, beans, nuts, seeds, greens, whole grains, chocolate and a little in most foods.

     Having too much or too little of any of the four essential electrolytes in our blood and body fluid can be life threatening. They work together as teams that balance each other. Salt is not bad for us, we just need potassium in similar amounts. Processed foods tend to be overly salted and low in potassium. If we eat that way occasionally, no big deal, but if we eat that way most days then we may become low in potassium.

We lose electrolytes everyday in sweat and in the urine and feces. Muscle cramps can be a symptom of potassium deficiency and heart attacks can occur with abrupt drops in potassium. Muscle cramps may also be a symptom of magnesium or calcium imbalances.

Sweating a lot can leave us low in sodium and other electrolytes. Heatstroke can be due to excess heat [3] but it may also be due to hyponatremia or low sodium blood levels which can leave you feeling weak, dizzy and confused. Drinking plain water without also having a salty food may leave you feeling sick to your stomach if you are too dehydrated. Having a little salt or salty food first and then sipping the water might feel better when trying to rehydrate after a workout. The stomach controls what it lets into the more fragile intestine. If the stomach fluid is too thin and watery or too concentrated and acidic then the stomach will reject the fluid and cause vomiting. If the body has enough stored fluid and electrolytes then the stomach has systems for drawing in what it needs to digest whatever you eat. If you are dehydrated from excessive sweating then your stomach would not have those extra stores to use.

Magnesium may not be as familiar of a nutrient as calcium but it is just as essential to life. Excessive sweating during sports has been associated with sudden stroke later in the day in young athletes. It has been suggested that a sudden drop in magnesium from sweat losses may be the cause. Magnesium acts as the gate keeper in cell membranes and prevents calcium from flooding in from the blood. Calcium turns things on in the body and magnesium turns them off.

Calcium causes muscle fibers to contract and magnesium allows them to relax again. Calcium activates the energy production in the cell’s mitochondria and too much calcium flooding into a brain cell at once can overwork the cell to the point of cell death.

Glutamate and aspartate are amino acids that also act as brain neurotransmitters and their movement is carefully controlled by the protein channels in our cell membranes. Magnesium keeps the protein channels shut, so a sudden drop in magnesium may also cause stroke due to excessive flooding of brain cells by glutamate or aspartate. It might be better to avoid drinking beverages that contain Nutrasweet (Aspartame contains aspartate) by themselves in sweaty situations. A magnesium containing electrolyte beverage like Glaceau’s “Smart Water” would provide the brain cells with magnesium which is needed to prevent calcium, glutamate and aspartate from entering the cell.

 Sweaty situations call for rehydrating with water, and a potassium rich fruit or vegetable or juice and having a salty snack. Have beans, nuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds with your salty snack and you have your magnesium losses replaced as well.

Re-hydrating is also important if you are losing fluid in diarrhea or vomit. It’s also worth remembering to hydrate after night sweats or during high fevers. Darker yellow urine is a sign that you are dehydrated. Dry, chapped lips and skin are also symptoms.

No extra money is needed for a fancy bottled beverage when you understand your body’s electrolytes and know which foods and drinks are good sources. Dehydration is a frequent reason that people go to the hospital emergency room but with planning it is a problem that can be prevented.

Thinking about good hydration may help to be more aware of thirst signals. It can be easy to misinterpret thirst as hunger, so sometimes you can save calories and cut back on mindless snacking by trying a drink of water first.

Excerpt: Scientists See Dangers in Energy Drinks, By Jane E. Brody (NY Times, Pub: January 31, 2011) [link]

“The authors noted that “four documented cases of caffeine-associated death have been reported, as well as five separate cases of seizures associated with consumption of energy/power drinks.” Additional reports include an otherwise healthy 28-year-old man who suffered a cardiac arrest after a day of motocross racing; a healthy 18-year-old man who died playing basketball after drinking two cans of Red Bull; and four cases of mania experienced by individuals known to have bipolar disorder.”

/Speculation/ The seizures, cardiac arrest, death after athletics, and mania could all be due to sudden changes in magnesium and potassium levels. The caffeine increases urine volume and urinary magnesium losses and the athletes also lost magnesium in sweat. The protein channels that have inadequate magnesium allow calcium to over-flood cell interiors. The calcium can trigger muscle spasms which may lead to cardiac arrest or stroke. Brain cells would also be vulnerable to over-excitation by calcium or the free amino acids, aspartame and glutamate. Brain cells that are constantly active could be associated with mania or seizures.

We could help prevent brain damage by adequately protecting our cell membranes with more frequent intake of magnesium containing foods and beverages. Seizures, strokes, migraines and mania are related to brain cells getting over stimulated and  the resulting lack of oxygen and energy stores can lead to cell death. The glutamate receptor rich areas of the brain are frequently the most devastated in the brains of sufferers of senile dementia.

 An Easy Solution: put magnesium back in beverages – it is in ground water and it is an essential electrolyte. The U.S. regulated it out in the past and bottlers have been removing it ever since – our intestines are suffering. [water policy history review – a 1920 Water Power Act had to do with hydroelectric water rights more than mineral content. I haven’t found more information about a bottled water act yet, [waterencyclopedia.com]
Every sip of a beverage that does not contain magnesium requires magnesium to be drawn to the intestines and stomach from our stored reserves – which are our bones – our structural support. If we want to stop osteoporosis then we need to be sipping and eating foods with a reasonable quantity of magnesium throughout the day. Any time we consume foods or fluids that have an electrolyte content that doesn’t match the concentration that is normal for our body requires our bodies take nutrients out of the reserves stored within our bones, those reserves run out eventually, leaving bones brittle from osteoporosis.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes and is not intended to provide individual health care. Please see a health professional for individualized health care./

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