Magnesium, the Miracle Mineral

Magnesium Salt

In all my years of stressing over one thing or another, nothing has helped me quite like magnesium – specifically, magnesium chloride.

When we’re stressed, our bodies dump magnesium through waste processes. This is one reason why it’s so important to include magnesium in your health routine, especially if you suffer from anxiety or stress frequently.

Magnesium is a very crucial mineral that most people are severely lacking in their diets. It’s extremely important for maintaining mental health and stability, aids immensely in the relaxation of joints and muscle tissue, and helps to prevent calcification in the body.

I often notice immediate relief from muscle cramping and joint pain when I apply magnesium chloride topically.

Magnesium regulates the “HPA Axis”, or the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, which in turn regulates our stress response.

“Supplementing Mg levels in mice has been demonstrated to reduce the expression of anxiety-related behavior” – Neil Bernard Boyle, Clare Lawton, and Louise Dye.

While many people see improvements in their stress response after using a bio-available source of magnesium, it’s also been shown to improve symptoms of depression.

The same article written by the individuals mentioned above – published in the US National Library of Medicine – states that “An impoverished Mg (magnesium) diet is associated with depression in humans”, and “Low serum and cerebrospinal fluid Mg levels have also been associated with depressive symptomology and suicidality”.

There are several different types of magnesium including magnesium sulfate and magnesium citrate, however there is some controversy on their bioavailability, as well as concerns that they may be dehydrating due to their hydrophilic properties.

Both of these types of magnesium are commonly used to relieve both stress and occasional constipation, and are generally more inexpensive than magnesium chloride.

My absolute favorite ways to use magnesium are in sprays and soaks.

There are several different brands of magnesium spray. Some tend to have a strange oily feeling that doesn’t go away, while others absorb right into the skin and leave very little residue on the skin’s surface. The brand I like to use is this one. I’m not at all sponsored by this company, it’s just much less oily than others I’ve tried.

When first starting to use magnesium spray, start off slowly to acclimate your body to its new magnesium levels. 10-15 sprays per day is a good place to start!

What I Use Magnesium For….

For sore muscles after hiking or working out, I will use 5-10 sprays of magnesium chloride solution on the area and massage it in. I tend to notice effects immediately with this method.

Magnesium spray is also wonderful for headache relief – I am a common headache-haver, and nothing works quite like magnesium spray. For headaches, I massage 4-6 sprays onto the back of my neck, shoulders, temples and hairline, and then repeat several times after the first coat has dried.

For menstrual cramps, I will rub 5-10 sprays on my abdomen, and then repeat multiple times after each coat dries. For those with minor menstrual pain, I could see magnesium working especially well.

For stress & anxiety, I will dissolve half a tub of magnesium chloride flakes into a bucket of very warm water and use as a foot soak for 15-25 minutes. This method works best for me as a mental relaxant, and is also a soothing, comforting experience all the way around.

I’ll usually add 3-4 drops of lavender or eucalyptus essential oil to the water to make it an even more relaxing experience!

If you have a bathtub, I highly recommend adding magnesium chloride flakes to a full bath. If you’re like me and don’t have a bathtub (we’ll get through this together) magnesium foot soaks work almost just as well.

For restful sleep, I will basically just apply magnesium chloride spray to my entire body, focusing on my abdominal area, calves, feet, neck and shoulders.

I also use magnesium chloride spray whenever I think about it, just for magnesium maintenance!

Make Your Own Magnesium Spray…

If you’d like a more economical option or just don’t feel like going out and searching for a pre-made solution, you can totally make your own magnesium spray!

Just dissolve magnesium chloride flakes in hot distilled water in a 1:1 ratio!

It’s that easy.

You can add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil if you like, as well.

The Bottom Line…

Overall, magnesium is one of my top go-to’s in uncomfortable situations, from stress to headaches. In my opinion, it’s a must-have wellness tool for everyone, especially those dealing with sleep issues, anxiety, depression or aches and pains.

If you want to do your own research on magnesium, here is the article I referenced towards the beginning of this post. It’s filled with more cool studies, information and science about this amazing mineral!

What are your experiences with magnesium? I want to know!

Peace & Healing,

xoxo – Mackenna

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Aloe Vera, Nature’s Slimy Skin Serum

Ahh, aloe.

When I was little, I was obsessed with the slimy, antibacterial succulent. Any time I got any little scratch or cut, I would beg my mom to slice open a leaf of aloe vera so I could slather it all over the aforementioned injury.

I didn’t know much about aloe, or any of it’s magical healing properties, I just knew it was slimy, looked cool and left a cold, tingly feeling on my skin.

As I learned more about this amazing plant, my aloe admiration began to grow.

While I don’t particularly enjoy consuming aloe (it’s a textural thing, mostly) I absolutely love using it topically.

Back when I had a ton of Candida Albicans yeast overgrowth in my body, my face would frequently break out in horrible red rashes. Aloe vera helped to soothe and calm these breakouts, so I used it often.

Aloe vera has been used for centuries by ancient Chinese, Native American, Mexican, Japanese, Indian, and Egyptian civilizations. According to Lily of the Desert‘s website, Cleopatra used aloe vera on her skin regularly. I don’t know how to fact check this, but she’s said to have had glowing skin, so I completely believe it.

Aloe vera contains antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral properties, as well as antioxidant vitamins A and E.

A wonderful addition to any vegan or vegetarian diet, aloe contains amino acids, vitamin B-12 and even choline! Choline, which plays an important role in the metabolic process, as well as maintaining cell structure, is one of the more difficult nutrients to find on a vegan diet, and is usually ingested in things like eggs, meat and fish.

When it comes to healing properties, aloe is beneficial when taken internally as well as when used externally.

Aloe is a commonly used tool in the world of gut health, due to its gentle laxative effects and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps to increase peristaltic activity in the intestines, resulting in improved bowel function. It’s also very lubricating, which soothes the gut and helps to maintain proper digestion. According to this study, aloe vera may also help to increase the good bacteria living in your gut.

Now onto the main reason I use aloe vera – its powerful skin healing properties!

When applied topically, aloe vera deeply moisturizes the skin, promotes collagen production, soothes inflammation, kills acne-causing bacteria and protects the skin from free radical damage; helping to slow down signs of aging.

Every time I apply aloe vera gel, I notice a difference in my skins overall appearance overnight.

It softens, plumps and moisturizes my skin while seriously diminishing redness. If I have any blemishes, they noticeably reduce in size as well.

I only use two types of aloe.

Bottled organic 100% aloe vera juice, and fresh, whole aloe vera leaves.

When it’s available at the health food store, I will usually opt for the fresh leaf because it has all it’s raw enzymes and nutrients intact. However, I still notice incredible benefits from using the juice as well.

If you’re using aloe juice, simply moisten a cotton pad with the juice and wipe it over your (freshly cleansed) face and neck. You can also pop a couple of aloe juice soaked cotton pads in the fridge and use them as soothing under-eye pads.

If you’re using the whole leaf, filet the leaf by slicing the green outer skin to reveal the magical goopy inner gel. I will usually just rub this into my skin, but you can also blend it to make a hydrating gel and use it that way.

It will form a protective, hydrating film over your skin. For this reason, I recommend using it in the evening before bed, so you can rinse off any remaining aloe when you wake up.

You can use the same aloe filet for another day or two – just scratch off the protective film it will form overnight. (Put any sliced pieces of aloe on a paper towel on a plate, as it can stain surfaces over time. I learned this the hard way!)

As far as consuming aloe vera, there are only two ways I’ve been able to get it down.

Method number one is to blend it into something. Overall, it has a very mild flavor, so it goes relatively unnoticed in smoothies and juices.

Method number two is chopping it up into teeny tiny pieces and dumping it into fresh coconut water. The aloe actually pairs nicely with the coconut water and makes for a refreshing beverage. I also kind of enjoy the little surprise bites of aloe with each sip.

While it’s definitely a little weird to eat, the benefits make it well worth the strange eating experience!

Overall, aloe vera is definitely on my list of the most magical plants of all time. It’s one of those things that I believe was gifted to us by nature, free to use, asking nothing in return but for us to show appreciation and love to ourselves.

If you want to read more about this fascinating plant on your own, I’ll link the source I used to write the science-y aspects of this blog post here.

If you are already a fan of aloe, let’s obsess over it together!

If you’re convinced and want to try it out, let me know if you have any questions or comments… I want to know what you think!

Peace & Healing,

xoxo – Mackenna

Spirulina, the Miracle Food

If I had to choose two foods to survive off for the rest of my life, Spirulina would definitely be one of them.

The other would probably be whole coconuts, but that’s another post for another time.

Spirulina is absolute magic.

It’s a Nutrient Bomb

It contains all essential amino acids, making it the perfect source of protein.

In fact, Spirulina’s protein composition is approximately 50%-70% of its dry weight. I’ll link a full report of the nutritional makeup of Spirulina here.

It also contains the stress-relief mineral magnesium, blood-building iron, omega 3’s and essential B-vitamins, making it an amazing supplement for vegans.

While Spirulina has not been shown to contain any sufficient amount of vitamin B-12, Chlorella has more promising research and may contain higher amounts.

Evidence may suggest that Spirulina helps to protect the liver, and studies have shown that it could be used as an alternative treatment for individuals with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

It may also seriously promote brain health. It has been shown to reduce levels of amyloid-beta proteins, which may help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. I’ll link University Health News’s article that provides more information on this here if you’re interested.

Another benefit of Spirulina is its ability to help detoxify your body from excess heavy metals such as lead and mercury. It can bind with these harmful toxins, and move them out of the system.

Spirulina is easy for the body to digest, break down and absorb nutrients from, and you are usually only recommended to take 6-8 tablets (though I usually take several more), making it a great quick “snack”.

I actually love taking a few tablets in the evening as a bedtime “snack” if I get munchy before bed. I don’t like eating too soon before going to sleep, because I want to give my body all the energy it needs to rest and repair – rather than work hard to digest food.

It’s not as satisfying as a snack or a meal, but it does take the edge off enough for me to fall into a peaceful sleep. In fact, Spirulina may help your body produce melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep.

Some people actually pop them like candy.

Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people.

Spirulina vs. Chlorella

You may be wondering what the difference between Spirulina and Chlorella is. To be honest, I used to think there was no difference, other than the name.

There are a few key differences between Spirulina and Chlorella.

First, Chlorella is higher in chlorophyll than Spirulina – which you can usually see in it’s dark green color. Spirulina often has more of a blue tint to it.

Another major difference is their cell walls. While Spirulina has a fragile cell wall, Chlorella has a thicker, indigestible cell wall that needs to be “broken” for the body to absorb its nutrients. When picking a Chlorella, look for “Broken Cell Wall” on the label to assure you’re getting the benefits.

I’ll write about Chlorella soon, but let’s get back to our friend Spirulina!

Making Spirulina Taste Yummy

While I love the benefits I receive from taking algae, I’m not a huge fan of the taste.

If you aren’t a fan either, I recommend finding some pressed Spirulina tablets.

If you can, stick to tablets rather than capsules. Capsules can often hinder your body’s absorption of nutrients, and swallowing the tablets really isn’t that gross.

But, if you want to get the powder into your diet, there are ways to make it taste amazing.

Of course, you can add it into smoothies and juice, but how much fun is that?

One of my favorite ways to consume Spirulina is in a “Mermaid Latte”.

It’s basically just a light matcha latte with about 1/4 teaspoon or more of “Blue Majik”, a trendy Spirulina Extract with a striking blue color. The more Blue Majik added, the brighter the color will be. Just keep in mind that it has a pretty intense flavor, and you will taste it if you add too much.

While this is a great option for anyone who likes weirdly colored food, mermaids or Instagram-worthy creations, it’s not the only option for getting in those Spirulina benefits.

Another great option is to add Spirulina powder into fresh coconut water, with a dash of vanilla stevia if desired.

In my years of consuming not-so-palatable supplements and superfoods, I’ve come to realize that coconut water is an excellent vehicle for strange powders and liquids.

Another great cover-up for strange tasting healthy things is dark chocolate.

Making a creamy, dreamy raw chocolate mousse or chia pudding can turn Spirulina into a delicious treat.

One great way to get a daily dose of Spirulina any time of day is to make energy balls. These are basically little balls made of nuts and dried fruit, plus flavorings like vanilla, lemon or chocolate.

These make a great snack for those with a sweet tooth, or anyone who tends to get snacky throughout the day. They’re a perfect pre or post-workout pick-me-up, and a great breakfast or dessert.

My final favorite way to eat Spirulina powder is to mix it into vinegar-y salad dressings. A super flavorful, garlic and herb-filled vinaigrette made with apple cider vinegar and lemon juice can mask the flavor of Spirulina wonderfully.

My Favorite Spirulina Brands

The Spirulina I take is Nutrex’s Pure Hawaiian Spirulina tablets.

It’s certified free of pesticides, herbicides and pollutants. According to their website, it’s the only Spirulina cultivated in a Biosecure Zone, assuring its purity.

I do also love Blue Majik, mostly because it’s fun to include in recipes, but also because it still contains amazing nutrients.

When buying a Spirulina, try to find one that’s cultivated in clean water without pesticides, or is certified organic.

So there you have it!

To sum it up, Spirulina is a magical food containing a complete amino acid profile, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and more!

It’s a wonderful addition to any diet, but it particularly beneficial for vegans and vegetarians.

I hope this post helped you in some way, and maybe encouraged you to add Spirulina to your health regimen, if you haven’t already!

Peace & Healing,

xoxo – Mackenna