Do we absorb enough minerals from our supplements?

I have been experimenting with recipes for home-made mineral baths. After three weeks there was a difference in the length and strength of my fingernails. They continued to grow like a set of screwdrivers! I have always taken my bedtime calcium and magnesium but now my hair was also getting longer and thicker. Something exciting was happening. They tell us we absorb nasty chemicals through the skin but we can also soak up some beneficial minerals!

new fingernails

If your fingernails are weak and break off before you can cut them, you are not getting enough minerals. Magnesium is a key mineral for over 300 of our metabolic functions. It is a partner to calcium and is usually supplied as a supplement along with 3 parts of calcium to 1 part magnesium. Different types of raw materials supply higher or lower levels of elemental (pure) magnesium. Magnesium availability also depends on how and when we take the supplement. A slow-release form is very expensive and some people will still have symptoms of a magnesium deficiency.

Cheaper brands of tablets are readily available. Ground-up rocks like dolomite that contain both calcium and magnesium are often the source of these minerals. They say it comes in the right proportion but can we absorb it? Another use for dolomite quarries is for providing gravel for roads and concrete! Magnesium is poorly absorbed through the digestive tract at the best of times. Certain drugs and medications interact with it and weakened stomach acid renders it unable to interact with calcium or latch onto carrier proteins.

Without an efficient uptake of magnesium we suffer from cramps, depression and poor digestion or a “nervous” stomach. We are unable to use calcium or assimilate certain key nutrients or even produce healthy brain and muscle tissue. Our vitamin B tablets will go straight down the toilet – eventually. (Chronic constipation is yet another symptom of a magnesium deficiency.) However, excessive quantities of magnesium - like a few teaspoons of Epsom salts cause diarrhoea. We take Epsom salts to relieve constipation because it is rich in magnesium. It attracts water to the colon and flushes out the contents.

Why not consider Magnesium Sulphate (Epsom salts) as a supplement?

People who take Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) daily in large amounts will ingest a lot of magnesium, but will have to stay near a toilet! It reacts with the colon and attracts a lot of water to the last stage of a bowel movement. So out goes the magnesium with all the rest, down the loo. Epsom salts is used to good effect during a liver and gallbladder flush for this reason. The sulphur helps to disinfect and clear the intestines of toxins and microbes. A full traditional clean-out using olive oil and lemon juice followed by Epsom salts is only recommended a few times a year.

Spa bath at home

Now for something completely different – a hot bath!

The best way to take Epsom salts is to absorb it through the skin. We know about soaking bandages in hot water and add Epsom salts to reduce swollen ankles and sprained muscles. We take a bath and add some of it to the water, hoping it will relax us and it does! This is because magnesium is taken up into the bloodstream via the skin. This is known as transdermal absorption an is now regarded by some experts as one of the most effective ways to top up on minerals. We have skin all over the body and it is known as the largest “organ” of the body.

Skin also plays a major role in detoxification. The pores usher metabolic waste and toxins out of the body. Sweat glands also excrete a fair amount of toxins but a lot of magnesium, salt and other minerals are lost daily in the process. Pumping adrenaline and being stressed out also deplete our magnesium reserves. So it makes sense to soak up more magnesium from a relaxing hot bath. The heat brings blood vessels to the surface near the skin, allowing toxins to leave the body and magnesium, sulphur and other minerals that are present in the water to gain access.

Popular mineral baths with many benefits

Add one or two cups of Epsom salts to your bath and soak up the health benefits. Lie and relax in this for at least 20 minutes, three times a week. We share the bath water and the next day we load up the watering cans and water the garden with it. This gives the plants some extra magnesium to facilitate the formation of chlorophyll. That is why green vegetables are also rich in magnesium. We started adding a few drops of iodine to the bath water and have already noticed an improvement in the condition of our hair, fingernails and so on. If you think you are sensitive to iodine it is best to make sure you tolerate it. You can rub a little bit of Lugol"s iodine on your skin. If a rash appears, you may have a genuine iodine sensitivity but this is extremely rare.

Why iodine? People still think iodine is not safe to use

Dr Brownstein is a leading expert on the therapeutic use of iodine. Some people, including doctors are still concerned that taking an iodine supplement will cause hyperthyroidism (autoimmune). But  Dr Brownstein maintains that this condition has been on the increase even though our personal iodine levels have plummeted by as much as 50% during the last 30 years. Our iodine reserves have dwindled and are unable to support thyroid activity, control microbial infections, fibrocystic breast disease and even breast cancer. Physical signs are weak fingernails, thinning hair, depression, breast lumps, hormonal imbalances, constipation, weight gain and depression to name a few. Surely we should see a reversal of some of these symptoms when iodine is in adequate supply? Yes, especially when you soak it up in your hot tub! (See the recipe at the end of this article.)

Lugol's iodine is essential

Iodine-Sulphur springs are stinky but effective

The hydro thermal mineral baths at Bad Wiessee in Bavaria is Germany’s Strongest Iodine-Sulphur spring. There are more than 30 of these hot springs in Germany and they are popular for many reasons, especially for sufferers of arthritis and psoriasis. The area near the water has the characteristic stench of garlic and rotten eggs, due to the presence of  hydrogen sulphide. Nobody would be keen to add garlic or rotten eggs to their bath water yet going for a treatment at one of these spas will smell the same. This is the reason they provide the health benefits associated with sulphur (hydrogen sulphide) and iodine.

Treating chronic skin disorders with minerals

Hydrogen sulphide reaches the skin cells where it can travel to inflamed joints, muscles and other aches and pains 100 times faster than oxygen. The soothing and pain relieving effect is enhanced by a long lazy soak in the hot water. The heat dilates blood vessels near the skin and brings more blood to the surface where the uptake of oxygen, sulphur, iodine and other minerals is increased. This is highly beneficial to people with skin disorders such as psoriasis vulgaris, chronic (atopic) eczema and skin cornification disorders (ichthyoids or fish scale). It seems to reduce the rapid division of skin cells and facilitate their removal. Skin infections are discouraged due to the efficient antimicrobial and disinfectant properties of both sulphur and iodine.

At some resorts these sessions are followed by a sea salt bath to balance out the effects of bromine excretion / detoxification that is caused by the iodine. (Side effects are rare and only occur if iodine is taken in excess of 50 mg a day. According to Dr Brownstein the antidote is to drink a strong solution of salt water.) A salt substitute contains potassium chloride as an alternative to using sodium chloride.

Natural salt

Afterwards, a traditional rinse in a solution of whey (lactic acid) completes the cycle and helps to adjust the pH of the skin. Obviously following up with a shower of chlorinated water is not a clever thing to do. Chlorine is not good for the skin and is often the cause of iodine depletion and skin inflammation in the first place. Iodine is lost when we eat bread that contains bromine, shower with water that contains chlorine and use oral hygiene products that contain fluoride. All these activities thus have an adverse effect on our thyroid function and iodine reserves.

Sulphur, glorious stinky sulphur!

Magnesium and sulphur are both efficiently absorbed through the skin. We need sulphur because it is one of the most important building blocks for proteins, cells and tissues. It is important for the formation of brain tissue, joints and especially for the lining of the digestive tract. The sulphur –based proteins are also used by the pancreas to generate digestive enzymes. This is probably why Epsom salts has such a diversity of curative effects because it supports the functioning of both sulphur and magnesium.

Magnesium and why we need it, especially when combined with sulphur

According to the Epsom Salts Council website we can expect to experience the following:

  • Heart and circulation: lowering blood pressure, reducing blood clots, maintaining a more regular heartbeat and helping to prevent the hardening of arteries.
  • Diabetes and digestion: helps insulin to be more effective and can reduce the severity of diabetes.
  • Detoxification: helps to flush toxins and heavy metals and other harmful substances from cells and tissues. This can help to ease some forms of muscle pain.
  • The nervous system: magnesium helps calcium to conduct electrical impulses throughout the nervous system. It helps to soothe the nervous system and prevent headaches and migraines. Magnesium has an anti-spasmodic effect and this helps to relieve restless legs and all types of muscular cramps (including menstrual cramps.)
  • Stress and hormones: helps to provide magnesium that is depleted by adrenaline, cortisol and stress in general. It helps to generate a feeling of well-being and relaxation by facilitating the action of serotonin, a mood elevating chemical.  
  • Alkalinity: works with calcium to improve the oxygenation of tissues by buffering acidity and increasing alkalinity. The overall control of pH improves the efficacy of vitamins (especially vitamin B complex), the absorption of nutrients and the generation of digestive enzymes.

iodine mixed with Epsom salts

Take up the iodine and Epsom Salt challenge!

Even if this is the only part of the article you take to heart, try this at home. Yes, unless you are pregnant or under strict Doctor’s orders, the following is highly beneficial. The side effects are pleasant and relaxing, soothing and uplifting. I soon found that my fingernails had grown over 6mm within a period of 4 weeks, by doing this 3 – 4 times a week.

Add to 1 bath tub hot water:

  • ¼ cup Epsom salts
  • ¼ teaspoon Lugol’s iodine
  • 1 teaspoon natural / organic body wash liquid.  (For the bubbles!)

Combine all the ingredients and soak in the hot water for at least half an hour. This tub can be shared by the next person, who can top up with more hot water. Keep the water till the morning and scoop it out onto your garden and pot plants. You will enjoy lots of happy green leaves (magnesium is used for making chlorophyll) as a result. Soon you will begin to notice some amazing changes in the way you look, feel and function! You can make up larger quantities of the Epsom salts and Lugol's iodine. A basic ratio to begin with is a cup of Epsom salts to one teaspoon of Lugol's iodine. Keep it in a jar next to the bath tub. By the way, the iodine does not stain the skin or the bath. Iodine will turn black in the presence of starch so keep anything that contains corn starch of tapioca flour away from your skin. Some creams or brands of talcum powder have starch in them.

Caution: If you are pregnant or have any health concerns, please check with your doctor before using Epsom salts or Lugol’s iodine.

The following areas of the body need iodine to function properly:

1 Thyroid: for making thyroid hormones and keeping the metabolism rate efficient. Iodine is also used to kill microbes and fight infections.

 2 Breast tissues: to protect breasts form fibrocystic breast disease (painful breasts with nodules and cysts) and to help prevent breast cancer.  

3 The skin:  20% of our iodine is present in the skin, specifically in the sweat glands. Iodine controls odour from sweat (especially feet!) Sweat contains urea, microbes and organic waste material.

4 Stomach: iodine is used by parietal cells to make stomach acid. A lack of salt and iodine causes weakened stomach acid symptomatic of heartburn, constant infections, hair loss, weak fingernails and poor food assimilation. 

5 Eyes: in the tear glands of the eye to keep the area free of infections. A lack of iodine can cause dry eyes.

6 Salivary glands of the mouth: iodine deficiency causes a dry mouth. A lack of saliva speeds up tooth decay, mouth infections and bad breath. (Fluoride in oral hygiene products deplete your iodine reserves. The bromide in bread also displaces iodine. So does chlorinated water.)

7 Females ovaries: a lack of iodine is directly proportionate to the presence and amount of cysts in the ovaries. (Polycystic ovarian disease). For this condition, iodine is best absorbed via the vaginal mucous membranes.

8 Immunity: a lack of iodine makes us more vulnerable to thyroid cancer, stomach cancer, breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Now take a pleasant, inexpensive break

Have a hot mineral bath and soak up some supplements.

Then make a list of all the benefits you begin to experience. Enjoy!