Not long ago, one of my staff came into my office to talk to me. But she was having a hard time because it was “so embarrassing…”
Now, Sandy and I are close. She worked with me for 10 years. Before that, she was a patient.
So I couldn’t understand why she was having such a tough time telling me what was bothering her.
As it turns out, Sandy was constipated. In fact, it had been 10 days since she’d had what she calls “going to the library.”
We both laughed at the term she used… But if you’ve ever suffered from a long bout of constipation, you know there’s nothing funny about it.
Constipation can affect you physically and mentally. And it often goes hand in hand with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), leaky gut and colorectal cancer.1
At the same time, it interferes with your sense of well-being. Sandy had become accustomed to planning her life around her bathroom habits. If she didn’t “go” beforehand, she wouldn’t go…
For some people, like Sandy, the condition can last for days. Meanwhile, you become more anxious and upset as the gas and bloating make you increasingly uncomfortable.
And the older you get, the more often it happens, particularly after age 65.2
A recent survey found that almost 50% of older Americans experience constipation on a frequent basis. Leading to 6 million doctors’ visits and 700,000 trips to the emergency room.3
The good news is that we were able to fix Sandy’s problem easily and naturally and without harsh laxatives. And all it took was a mineral that’s been a crucial part of the human diet throughout history.
I’m talking about magnesium. And I call it the “missing link” to good health.
It’s a potent weapon that prevents — and treats — more than 20 diseases of the modern world. Diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, Parkinson’s, fatigue, osteoporosis, migraines and thyroid disease.
Your body needs magnesium for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. If you don’t have enough, your body stops functioning efficiently. Your nervous system slows down. Inflammation runs rampant. Your heart beats erratically…
In fact, people with a magnesium deficiency have a higher risk of dying from ANY cause.4
Sadly, today nearly 80% of Americans are deficient in this “miracle mineral.”
Our ancestors got much more magnesium than we do from eating organ meats and plants harvested from mineral-rich soil. But most of us turn our noses up at organ meats these days. And modern farming methods have depleted most of the magnesium in the soil.
In 1914, one medium apple contained 28.9 mg of magnesium. Today, they have about 5 mg. But the problem goes deeper than that…
Not only do sugars and grains prompt your kidneys to excrete magnesium, they actually consume nutrients when digested.
For every 1 molecule of sugar we eat, our bodies use 54 molecules of magnesium to process it!5 Consider that the average American eats a shocking 19 teaspoons of sugar a day. That adds up to a huge magnesium deficit.
Magnesium acts as a natural laxative by drawing water into the gut, adding extra moisture to dehydrated waste matter that’s difficult to pass. It also helps the smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal tract contract better to move things along.
Here’s the magnesium-constipation protocol I recommend to my patients at the Sears Institute for Anti-Aging Medicine:
- In the evening, before bed, take 400 mg of magnesium with water (usually 2 capsules of 200 mg).
- The next morning, try to have a normal bowel movement. If you can, it means you have found your “bowel tolerance” dose.
- If not, take an additional 200 mg in the morning (another capsule). Wait for the afternoon (let at least 4 hours pass).
- In the afternoon, if you still cannot have a bowel movement and are still backed up, take another 200 mg (another capsule).
Boost Your Magnesium Levels Naturally
Magnesium changed Sandy’s life —
and it can change yours, too. The recommended daily amount of magnesium is 350 mg. That’s nowhere near the 1,000 mg you need. The good news is that it’s easy to boost your magnesium levels and get them back where nature intended.
- Always start with your food. Despite the overall lack of magnesium in today’s diet, it’s still good to eat foods rich in magnesium. Almonds, pumpkin seeds, avocado, figs and leafy greens are good sources. To make sure you’re getting the maximum amount of magnesium from your vegetables, I suggest you steam or sauté them instead of eating them raw. Contrary to what most people believe, cooking certain vegetables is the best way to release their nutrients.
- Add a supplement. It’s hard to get enough magnesium in your meals. So I recommend magnesium supplements. You can find capsules online and in most health food stores. I recommend taking between 600 mg and 1,000 mg a day. Take it with vitamin B6. It will increase the amount of magnesium that accumulates in your cells. Also add vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 as well, since these all work synergistically with one another.
- Finally, bathe in Epsom salts. Bathing with Epsom salts allows magnesium to be absorbed directly through your skin. A recent study found that bathing in a 1% solution of Epsom salts caused a significant rise in blood plasma magnesium levels.6 Add two cups to warm bath water. Stir to dissolve. The water should feel slightly slimy. Stay in the tub for at least 12 minutes to get the most benefits.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Sanchez MI and Bercik P, et al. “Epidemiology and burden of chronic constipation.” Can J Gastroenterol. 2011;25(Suppl B):11B–15B.
3. UpToDate. Constipation in the older adult. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/constipation-in-the-older-adult. Accessed October 26, 2018. Updated May 21, 2018.
4. Reffelmann T, et al. “Low serum magnesium concentrations predict cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.” Atherosclerosis. 2011;219(1):280-284.
5. OrganicOlivia. “Why we’re all deficient in magnesium, the many signs, and what to do. Collective Evolution. March 25, 2015.2012;34(3):255-262.
6. Gröber U, et al. “Myth or reality—Transdermal magnesium?” Nutrients. 2017;9(8):813.