Absorption of magnesium from a skin cream developed for chemical warfare
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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.
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- “Report on Absorption of magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) across the skin,” an article in Unpublished, 2006.
These two articles on PainScience.com cite Eisenkraft 2009 as a source: