Magnesium, Blood Pressure & Heart Health

Magnesium & Blood Pressure

Long term population studies have shown that adequate magnesium promotes normal blood pressure, and that high-magnesium diets are a plus for those with hypertension.1  These and other positive effects of magnesium chloride on the human cardiovascular system are well documented.

The use of magnesium for heart health include preventing spasms of the blood vessels in the heart (that eventually can lead to heart attacks), preventing muscle spasms of the peripheral blood vessels (that can lead to high blood pressure), and preventing calcium deposition in plaques within arteries (that can contribute to narrowed or blocked arteries).2

An exploration of the impact of magnesium on blood pressure and heart health includes:

  • Intravenous magnesium injection
  • Calcium and heart disease
  • Magnesium and Artery Damage
  • Cholesterol, Magnesium & the Heart
  • Transdermal Magnesium and Heart Health

In addition, transdermal magnesium therapy is the modality of choice for most applications supporting and maintaining excellent cardiovascular health, and as a preventive against cardiovascular conditions.

Emergency Applications of Magnesium

Among the many health-related applications of magnesium, modern medicine is most familiar with the relationship between magnesium and heart and vascular health. In practice, this means intravenous administration of magnesium chloride (MgCl2) or magnesium sulfate (MgS04). Intravenous injection of magnesium is used in hospitals for acute myocardial infarction, angina, or congestive heart failure because when appropriately administered, it can rapidly dilate coronary collateral circulation.3

Calcium and Heart Disease

In addition to preventing spasms in blood vessels, magnesium works via multiple modes to ensure cardiovascular health. For example, consider the relationship of magnesium to calcium and heart disease. An indicator of the blocked-artery disease atherosclerosis is the presence of calcium in coronary arteries.4  Studies have shown lower intakes of magnesium to be associated with higher calcium levels in coronary arteries. Higher levels of magnesium obtained through transdermal application help prevent the elevation of calcium in arteries.

Magnesium, High Blood Pressure and Artery Damage

Another mode by which magnesium acts to decrease the risk of cardiovascular conditions is through its effect on inflammatory response. Magnesium is known to reduce inflammation (e.g., as measured by C-reactive protein) that can lead to heart disease in persons exhibiting low levels of magnesium.5  Individuals exhibiting higher magnesium levels show demonstrably lower C-reactive protein levels than magnesium deficient individuals.6

Additional causes of damage to inner walls of arteries include elevated levels of homocysteine (an amino acid that creates oxidized cholesterol and is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease), oxidative damage, blood sugar imbalances, and hypertension.7  Magnesium effectively combats all three of these causes of artery damage.

Dr. Carolyn Dean, in the book The Magnesium Miracle, comments on the relationship of magnesium and blood pressure. As she notes, magnesium plays a positive role in reducing homocysteine levels, quenching free-radicals, balancing blood sugar, and lowering high blood pressure.8

Magnesium and Stroke

Magnesium provides proven benefits with respect to preventing strokes and reducing damage from strokes and head injuries. It is well known that brain magnesium levels fall dramatically after a head injury, and that individuals having higher magnesium levels experience better recoveries.9  Similarly, individuals who are risk for strokes (or who have suffered from strokes) benefit from magnesium, and experience better outcomes.

For example, magnesium acts as a vasodilator, opening blood vessels and improving circulation in the brain. Magnesium similarly protects the inner lining of blood vessels in the brain, and balances calcium levels within brain cells.10

Studies support the use of magnesium for stroke. For example, intravenous magnesium has been shown to protect ischemic neurons in vitro and in vivo in animal experiments.11  Dr. Sircus describes several modes in which magnesium provides neuroprotection and acts to prevent strokes, or reduces damage caused by them. These modes include vasodilation, which increases blood flow to the ischemic cortex while simultaneously increasing cardiac output, prevention of cerebral vasospasm, and antagonizing the entry of calcium into cells.12

Calcium enters damaged vascular structures in the brain during and after strokes in the same way that it enters damaged arterial structures in the heart in arteriosclerosis and heart disease. Calcium rigidifies the structures and contributes to hyperexcitation of tissues. Magnesium prevents the buildup of calcium, keeps vascular structures flexible, and prevents electrical hyperactivity in the brain.

Dr. Sircus notes that the most commonly studied neuroprotective agents for acute stroke are designed to block the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor. Magnesium acts on the NMDA receptor, where it reduces ischemic injury, possibly by increasing “regional blood flow, antagonizing voltage-sensitive calcium channels, and blocking the NMDA receptor.”13

In fact, Dr. Sircus asserts that transdermally-applied magnesium chloride is the therapy of choice for stroke when used in conjunction with acupuncture, herbs, and nutritional intervention.14  His statement is based on the fact that transdermal magnesium chloride therapy provides exceptional protection to the brain not only from stroke and the risk factors that lead to it, but also by protecting it against calcium deposition, hyperexcitation caused by neurotoxins, and maintaining flexible vascular structures.

Cholesterol, Magnesium and the Heart

Regarding the role of fat and cholesterol in heart disease, Dr. Mildred Seelig states that ensuring adequate magnesium enables the body to control and regulate cholesterol synthesis.15 

Magnesium controls components of blood cholesterol by regulating enzymes that control cholesterol production. That is, magnesium regulates a critical phase in the process by which enzymes help create cholesterol. While cholesterol is needed to create steroid hormones, corticosteroids, and vitamin D (in conjunction with sunlight), too much cholesterol is a well-known risk factor for vascular health because cholesterol deposits in arteries can lead to blockage and oxidative damage.

Cholesterol is created from a series of biochemical reactions that begin with the conversion of HMG-CoA (3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-CoA) to a compound known as mevalonate (a substance that is derived from essential fatty acids).16  Mevalonate is converted to cholesterol through a series of steps. Cholesterol then is used in the body to synthesize natural steroid hormones (e.g., estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, glucocorticoids, etc.) and vitamin D (in conjunction with sunlight). The key role played magnesium in this process relates to the ability of magnesium (jointly with ATP) to deactivate the enzyme controlling the conversion of HMG-CoA to cholesterol. This enzyme is known as HMG-CoA reductase (3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-CoA reductase). It is perhaps best described as the rate-controlling enzyme of the mevalonite pathway (i.e., the pathway that produces cholesterol).17

Magnesium enables the body to inhibit the first step in the process leading to the synthesis of cholesterol by deactivating the enzyme required to convert HMG-CoA to mevalonite. It is noteworthy that the relationship of magnesium to the inhibition of cholesterol synthesis is well understood, yet this knowledge has not translated into significantly greater use of magnesium in health-care settings.

Transdermal magnesium chloride provides readily usable magnesium to the body that can inhibit the overproduction of cholesterol.

The importance of magnesium to the inhibition of cholesterol synthesis may be best understood in terms of deficiency. When there is a deficiency of magnesium in the body, a scenario can develop whereby HMG-CoA reductase cannot be properly deactivated, cholesterol production increases unchecked, and the body loses its capacity to regulate synthesis of cholesterol.

Transdermal Magnesium and Heart Health

Transdermal magnesium therapy using magnesium chloride offers definite and significant advantages in applications for cardiovascular conditions. Advantages of transdermally-applied magnesium chloride include rapid absorption (especially when compared to oral supplements), convenience and ease of use (i.e., it can be self-applied in the home), low cost, and the fact that it is natural and non-toxic (when used properly). Transdermal magnesium, such as magnesium oil spray, does not involve the pain associated with direct injection into the body.

For overall heart health and healthy blood pressure, magnesium plays an important role. For those who wish to reduce or prevent high blood pressure, magnesium increases are recommended.18

Transdermal magnesium therapy provides benefits to the cardiovascular system through multiple modes of action. It is evident that transdermal magnesium therapy offers significant advantages and benefits to individuals desiring to create and maintain positive heart health.

  1. See http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/magnesium []
  2. Dean, Carolyn, MD, ND. The Magnesium Miracle (2007 ed.), 99. []
  3. Sircus, Mark, Ac., OMD. Transdermal Magnesium Therapy (2007), 10. []
  4. Sircus, 12. []
  5. Dean, 104-106. []
  6. Dean, 105. []
  7. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homocysteine []
  8. Dean, 107-108. []
  9. Dean, 75; Sircus, 167. []
  10. Dean, 74. []
  11. Sircus, 168. []
  12. Sircus, 168. []
  13. Sircus, 166. []
  14. Sircus, 168-169. []
  15. Seelig, Mildred S., PhD, MPH and Andrea Rosanoff, PhD. The Magnesium Factor (2003), 147. []
  16. Seelig, 126. []
  17. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMG-CoA_reductase []
  18. See http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/magnesium []

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