Two articles on PainSci cite Eisenkraft 2009: 1. Hot Baths for Injury & Pain 2. Does Epsom Salt Work?
PainSci notes on Eisenkraft 2009:
Hat tip to reader Bryan B. who found this study and noted that it seems to “clearly demonstrate that magnesium doesn't penetrate the skin — at least that of Israeli soldiers.” Basically, it was a safety study of a lotion — with a lot of magnesium in it — that was developed “to improve protection against chemical warfare agents.” Soldiers were not poisoned by the magnesium. Indeed, it didn’t appear to cross the skin at all: “there were no significant differences in magnesium levels between the placebo and the study groups in any of the applications.” The delivery system — lotion — could be quite different than soaking in water with dissolved magnesium sulfate. But I agree it's pretty strong evidence that absorption is minimal or nil, which is certainly at odds with Waring’s result.
original abstract †Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
Vesicants and some nerve agents penetrate exposed skin, mainly through the sensitive integration areas of the personal protective equipment. Therefore, improving dermal barrier with a topical agent should reduce the threat of exposure. A topical skin protectant lotion (IB1) was developed to improve protection against chemical warfare agents. Preclinical studies in several animal models have proven the protective efficacy of IB1. Here we present the results of a randomized placebo-controlled, double-blind phase I clinical study, performed with 34 healthy volunteers. The study tested the safety of repeated applications, including ruling out transdermal permeation of magnesium, which may lead to a dangerous blood magnesium level, since the lotion contains magnesium sulfate. Other objectives included detection of dermatological adverse effects, assessment of application convenience, and effect on daily activities. Importantly, no serious adverse effects were recorded and the lotion did not interfere with daily tasks. There were no significant differences in magnesium levels between the placebo and the study groups in any of the applications. No toxic levels of magnesium were found in either group. We conclude that IB1 is probably safe, easily self-applied, and does not cause any significant inconvenience. Therefore, IB1 can be considered as an adjunctive chemical, biological, and radio-nuclear (CBRN) protective aid to field soldiers.
- “Report on Absorption of magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) across the skin,” RH Waring, Unpublished, 2006.
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- Association of Lumbar MRI Findings with Current and Future Back Pain in a Population-based Cohort Study. Kasch 2022 Spine (Phila Pa 1976).
- A double-blinded randomised controlled study of the value of sequential intravenous and oral magnesium therapy in patients with chronic low back pain with a neuropathic component. Yousef 2013 Anaesthesia.
- Is Neck Posture Subgroup in Late Adolescence a Risk Factor for Persistent Neck Pain in Young Adults? A Prospective Study. Richards 2021 Phys Ther.
- Sudden amnesia resulting in pain relief: the relationship between memory and pain. Choi 2007 Pain.
- Photobiomodulation therapy is not better than placebo in patients with chronic nonspecific low back pain: a randomised placebo-controlled trial. Guimarães 2021 Pain.