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Magnesium levels & cramping — The Grow Network Community
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Magnesium levels & cramping

LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning ModeratorManitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,080 admin

Most of our woman members here will know that if your magnesium levels are low, monthly cramping is a real thing. If your levels are high, it can reduce or eliminate it.

This got me to thinking about labor. Essentially, it is cramping, not just of the uterus, but many more muscles working in tandem.

Many women are magnesium deficient to begin with, plus many have a fear of labor as if it is or will result in an emergency and has no need of hospitalization (labor in itself is not an emergency, just normal end of pregnancy physical work). Stress reduces magnesium levels, and what happens when fear is involved...stress increases substantially. Fear can cause other issues in labor too, but right now, I am focusing on magnesium.

My thoughts are that just as in our cycles, some cramp more than others. In labor, some women feel more pain than others (I'm not talking drugs/no drugs...just normal, natural labor). So what my question is...would having a balanced magnesium level before, at the onset of and during labor make a difference in the pain experienced when the muscles are working so hard? Would it prepare them to function in an even better way?

I bet it would.

I would be very curious to know what Susun Weed, Aviva Romm and other wise herbal women would have to say about this. I was introduced to Susun Weed's books on pregnancy with my first. I don't agree with her spiritual views, but the herbal & labor stuff is right on the mark.

@torey Have you ever come across anything like this?


  • toreytorey Moderator Posts: 3,072 admin

    I don't deal with pregnancy and childbirth much at all. However, I have gone back to the Natural Pregnancy & Childbirth course that was part of my training and here are some quotes.

    "Urtica aids in relieving leg cramps and other muscle spasms that are common during pregnancy. This is most likely due to its quantity of magnesium."

    "Cramps are quite typical in pregnancy and are usually a symptom of not enough calcium or a calcium/magnesium imbalance. Calcium and magnesium are minerals that help to relax muscles and aid in prevention of muscle spasm."

    "Magnesium is important in pregnancy because it is linked with over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. Low amounts of magnesium are linked to pre-eclampsia, premature babies, low birth weight babies and low Apgar test scores. Nutritional deficiencies, especially low levels of magnesium, have also been correlated to higher incidence of miscarriage."

    It also had a chart with the nutritional value of Raspberry leaf which is often suggested during pregnancy. Magnesium levels are quite high along with Calcium. Magnesium is necessary for the assimilation of calcium which is essential for fetal bone growth.

    Then I found an article from Chicago Family Doulas. This is a quote from their website: "Magnesium optimizes blood pressure levels during pregnancy and increases your pain tolerance threshold, making for a more comfortable delivery. Other added benefits are that it aids in digestion, helps to relax muscles (think leg cramps), and get a better nights sleep."

    So I would say, Yes, that having optimal magnesium levels in your body will help manage pain and ease delivery during childbirth.

    The US RDA for magnesium during pregnancy is anywhere from 350 mg/day to 400 mg/day depending on age.

  • Annie KateAnnie Kate Eastern Ontario, CanadaPosts: 579 ✭✭✭✭

    But most people are very low on Mg and people most likely need a lot more than that to catch up.

    We use Mg spray or cream on sore muscles and it usually works like a charm. Everyone else we give it to is also thrilled and finds it helps enormously. So obviously deficiency is widespread, even in our family where we make an effort to supplement it.

  • toreytorey Moderator Posts: 3,072 admin

    I think the topical magnesium (how ever you choose to use it) is a much better choice than taking a supplement. Ancient Minerals, in flakes, has been recommended in a couple of discussions. Topical is certainly the way I choose to get my magnesium as all of the supplements that I have tried have caused immediate issues with my digestive tract.

    I agree that most people are low in magnesium. However, unless otherwise prescribed by a practitioner, one should not exceed the RDA as amounts over this can cause issues associated with hypermagnesemia (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain/cramping, fatigue, hypotension and arrhythmias). If you take the RDA it will gradually get your system back to where it should be; in balance with all the minerals necessary for health. A good calcium/magnesium balance seems to be essential.

  • Annie KateAnnie Kate Eastern Ontario, CanadaPosts: 579 ✭✭✭✭

    When our daughter had serious pain issues, the doctor recommended a Mg cream as well as supplements.

    The cream had magnesium sulfate (epsom salts) and he gave us the recipe that the pharmacy uses because making it ourselves was much more affordable.

    The way the supplements are given at the children's hospital is to gradually increase the dose until diarrhea starts and then cut back a bit. As I recall that was magnesium glycinate.

  • Annie KateAnnie Kate Eastern Ontario, CanadaPosts: 579 ✭✭✭✭

    I wonder @torey if hypermagnesia would be an issue from topical application. Some friends of ours found the cream so helpful that they took it several times a day and after a week of that they told me it no longer worked. Was it that the muscles had likely had enough and any more could not be absorbed?

    Also, doesn't hypomagensia cause arrhythmias as well? Carolyn Dean talks about treating them with IV Mg.

  • stephanie447stephanie447 Ayurvedic Practitioner Annapolis, MDPosts: 337 ✭✭✭

    When I studied with KP Khalsa he recommended up to 1,200 mg of magnesium per day UP TO BOWEL TOLERANCE, meaning, start with a low dose and increase, and then if you start getting loose stools back off to get your ideal dosage. He recommended magnesium glycinate, my integrative doctor recommended magnesium threonate to bypass the blood-brain barrier.

  • toreytorey Moderator Posts: 3,072 admin

    @Annie Kate I'm not sure about the levels of magnesium that get absorbed topically so not sure why it would quit working. Supplements aren't really my area of expertise. There is a supplement course I have been meaning to take but just haven't had the time. Why were they taking it? Muscle cramps?

    Yes, too little magnesium can cause arrhythmias as well as too much. IV magnesium can prevent further damage to the heart muscle during a heart attack as well as prevent arrhythmias and reduce risk of patient death.

    @stephanie447 1200 mg sounds like a lot but KP Khalsa is a very experienced practitioner and teacher. He would know better than I do as to how much you can get away with taking. I just go by the US RDA which probably isn't the best indicator. Again, I need to take that supplement course. Magnesium threonate seems to be the best form for depression and age-related memory loss so that makes sense that it bypasses the blood-brain barrier. Mag glycinate is the most bio-available form and is the least likely to cause diarrhea, however, it didn't seem to make a difference with me. Just can't take any type of mag supplement.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,080 admin

    @torey Thanks for confirming what I thought.

    I drank raspberry leaf tea often during my pregnancies especially closer to the date, as it was always highly recommended. I still drink it actually and it's about that time to collect new leaves.

    It makes me wonder what this would have been like combined with my electrolyte laboraide. Hmm. I will have to try it sometime.

  • toreytorey Moderator Posts: 3,072 admin
    edited May 30

    @LaurieLovesLearning I should be out picking raspberry leaves as well. I got nettles today. They are nearly gone to seed. I will have to go up higher if I want to get more younger ones.

    I think nourishing herbal infusions of nettle and raspberry really are the way to go during pregnancy. And salad dressings made with nettle vinegar cause vinegar is so good at extracting the minerals. Oatstraw is another that is high in minerals (particularly calcium and magnesium) and makes a good nourishing herbal infusion. I know Susun Weed recommends Red Clover and Comfrey. That would be up to the mom to discuss with her doc or midwife, as for any of the infusions mentioned. Everyone is an individual with different conditions, medications, allergies, etc. and should be treated that way by their practitioner. For anyone who is pregnant, make sure you talk to your practitioner before adding anything new to your regime.

    I know that many areas that have been cultivated for years have been depleted of the magnesium but I live in a pretty wild area where the soil is mostly still virgin where I am harvesting so I am not concerned about a depletion of minerals. I prefer to get my minerals that way as opposed to supplement form.

    That being said, supplements have their time and place. I'm not opposed to supplements. I take supplements (fish oil, Vit D, B-complex, zinc, etc.) when I am not eating properly (due to stress). And I take Bromelain for digestion. Anyone who gets their veggies from soil that has been de-mineralized of its micro-nutrients, should consider other ways of addressing low vitamin and mineral intake.

  • jowitt.europejowitt.europe Moderator Posts: 608 admin

    @torey @LaurieLovesLearning raspberries leaves are very popular in the Alpine area and are taken by most pregnant women from 36th week. Not earlier. Raspberry and Blackberry leaves tea is considered to be a herbal tea that is taken everyday of the year and causes no side effects. I use it as basis for most of my herbal tea mixtures.

    @Annie Kate I am not a food supplement fan. I believe that nature provides us with everything, if our food is natural and varied, thus, when I feel muscle cramps I adjust my diet. We eat a lot of nuts - basically every day a different variety. And my daily bread is a mixture of full grains of different plants.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,080 admin

    @torey That is interesting...about the nettles in your area going to seed already. I was thrilled to just find fresh new growth just yesterday of stinging nettles (only a few) and wild mint (lots of mint)! The mint smells do very good!

    I guess that shows how dry it's been here.

  • TaveTave Moderator In the AndesPosts: 673 admin

    I'm curious about the effect of potassium combined with calcium and magnesium. I take magnesium supplements, but when I have muscle cramps in my legs, I go for the bananas, and that usually takes care of it. From what I read, we get enough calcium if we have a healthy diet; however, all three (calcium, magnesium, and potassium) need each other for proper absorption. Is that true?

    I read that mulberry leaves are high in minerals, including magnesium and potassium. They're surprisingly delicious, slightly sour. I like them in a tea with loquat leaves, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom.

  • JennyT Upstate South CarolinaJennyT Upstate South Carolina Posts: 528 ✭✭✭✭

    My oldest daughter was having some really bad growing pains in her legs and I found out about this lotion that a blogger I follow started making and selling. We really like it and have some on hand all the time. I've used it on my husband too after he's been on his hands and knees a bunch working on the house.

    Maybe this might be another option, @LaurieLovesLearning.

  • Annie KateAnnie Kate Eastern Ontario, CanadaPosts: 579 ✭✭✭✭

    I have to pull up some raspberry that has spread and plan to dry some right away. Usually I wait until the fall but that's not the best idea according to https://thegrownetwork.com/red-raspberry-leaf/ Thanks for the reminder @LaurieLovesLearning and @torey.

  • Annie KateAnnie Kate Eastern Ontario, CanadaPosts: 579 ✭✭✭✭

    Yes, unless the soil is extremely well cared-for, most foods and herbs will be low in micronutrients.

  • Annie KateAnnie Kate Eastern Ontario, CanadaPosts: 579 ✭✭✭✭

    Yes, @Tave, you need to have Ca and Mg in a fairly close ratio. There is disagreement about the exact details, though, whether it should be 2:1, 1:1, or 1:2. I don't know how potassium relates to the other two.

    Also, anyone supplementing Ca should take K2 as well or else it will do more harm than good; I don't know if K2 affects Mg in the body or if that has even been studied. A natural source of K2 is natto.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,080 admin
  • VermontCathyVermontCathy Posts: 676 ✭✭✭✭

    I wouldn't be surprised if many moderns soils are deficient in magnesium and other trace elements. Anything beyond NPK doesn't get much attention.

    I don't know of any easy way to test my own soil without arranging to send it to a lab for tests. The simply test kits you can buy are mostly there to do pH and NPK levels.

    I take a multivitamin daily to try to make up for what I really should be getting from my food.

    If we could keep our soil balanced, not only would we be healthier, but our plants would grow better.

  • frogvalleyfrogvalley Posts: 635 ✭✭✭✭

    Fresh raspberry leaves in salad are another way of enjoying the garden's delights without having to heat water in the hot summer.

    Does anybody know why some people don't use the raspberry leaf tea until after the 36th week?

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,080 admin
    edited June 4

    @frogvalley Some use it beforehand, some don't. The concern is about it causing contractions leading to miscarriage.

    Raspberry leaves will cause some mild contractions of the uterus, preparing it for birth. It isn't just about the nutrition it provides.

    I didn't know raspberry leaves could be eaten fresh. That sounds quite prickly. I have also read (I have nothing to back this up with) that wilted leaves are toxic, so it wouldn't have been anything I would have tried.

  • toreytorey Moderator Posts: 3,072 admin

    @frogvalley I don't know why some sites recommend not starting raspberry leaf tea until that late in pregnancy. From what I have seen several sites say to start taking it in the third trimester. Which would be at 26 weeks. It seems that this time frame is set due to an abundance of caution. Aviva Romm recommends it for her patients starting in the second trimester, so anytime after 13 weeks. 1-2 cups daily. Other sites suggest the same. Once pregnancy is established it is safe to use raspberry leaf.

    There are suggestions that if taken too early it could cause uterine contractions. I can't find any evidence to back that up. The only studies I have been able to find involve rat models. In my opinion, that research is flawed due to the way the studies have been done.

    This is a quote from my Natural Pregnancy and Childbirth text book (Wild Rose College). "All real life studies and observations have all concluded that raspberry does not cause premature labour nor does it cause miscarriage."

    Women have been using raspberry leaf for a very long time. If there were concerns with it, midwives would have probably made note of it. If it didn't work, they probably wouldn't use it.

    I found one study that suggested that raspberry leaf taken for 3 months prior to conception could actually prevent miscarriage by toning the uterus in advance.

    But all that said, anyone who is pregnant should discuss any herbal regime with their doctor or midwife to determine the individual benefits and risks.

  • frogvalleyfrogvalley Posts: 635 ✭✭✭✭
    edited June 9

    The internet is certainly a double edge sword, isn't it? It holds many of the "secrets" of life that we can all share. On the other side, those "secrets" being shared are sometimes just made up by someone wanting to post text in order to sell something without that person having any real life experience with it. It's frustrating to read what seems a wonderful article that contains hidden in it's bowels words that reveal the writer is just that - a writer not a user or person of expertise. The article, and thus the writer, can only be trusted as far as you dare risk life or limb.

    I read a study of raspberry leaf tea once, pooh-poohing it for ingesting it during pregnancy. I can't remember the details, but it turned out that something like they had taken only one tiny element of the tea molecules and injected it in the eye of rabbits. It was sort of like the study they did on eggs way back when. Well, I think we've all learned that you can't take a part of something and expect it to work like the whole. Take the cyanide out of almonds and it can be deadly. Eating whole almonds is another story.

    I couldn't in all good consciousness, after reading the internet articles whether true or not, now recommend raspberry leaf tea in the beginning of a pregnancy just because of the sadness of the consequences IF anything happened. There are more miscarriages than live births, and if one drank the tea, one might mistakenly blame it on the tea when in reality it was something else. One will never really know if it was the tea, a beer, or a bad dream, but I don't want the blame or responsibility.

  • toreytorey Moderator Posts: 3,072 admin

    @frogvalley The responsibility of something going wrong is one of the reasons that I don't treat pregnancies, preferring to leave that to those who specialize in working with pregnancy and childbirth. I think it is a speciality and you should have extra training to work with moms and babes. Despite my training in herbal medicine & homeopathy, the natural pregnancy course and my training to attend emergency deliveries as a First Responder, I would be absolutely terrified if I were attending a birth.

    I avoid sites with any kind of alternative health advice unless it is run/operated by a very well known practitioner or teacher with lots of experience in the particular field for what I am researching. Aviva Romm is a well known herbalist but is also a medical doctor and midwife. Both Rosemary Gladstar and Susun Weed have a tremendous amount of training and experience with women's issues. Same with studies. I look for ones that are found in well known publications with results that have been reproduced by other researchers. The larger the study group, the better it is.

    Anyone who is seeking advice regarding pregnancy and childbirth should find someone that they are comfortable with and feel that they can trust. This might be a medical doc, a nurse practitioner, a midwife and/or a doula. Don't just rely on the internet to help you maintain a healthy pregnancy and safe, easy delivery.

    But back to the magnesium question, following is a link to an article on raspberry leaf in the Herbal Academy (who, in my opinion, offers good advice), listing the mineral content of raspberry leaves. They quote Rosemary Gladstar who says that combining raspberry and nettle leaf is a good way to supplement minerals needed for anemia (which can be an issue for some during pregnancy). Oatstraw is another herb that is high in magnesium and recommended as a nourishing herbal infusion.

    @Annie Kate Yes, the spring is the best time to harvest raspberry leaves. You want to pick ones from first year canes, not the ones that will produce fruit this year. Doc Jones addressed that in his talk on the recent summit. You want to harvest plant material when it is putting the most effort into that part of the plant. So if it is roots, then spring or fall is the best time. For leaves, in general, they are best in the spring. And as always there are exceptions to these guidelines.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,080 admin

    @torey If the woman is healthy and the baby is as well, and there is no imminent issue of complication, I would feel quite confident in being present at a birth.

    It is a natural and generally safe, process of a woman's body and complications aren't as common as the system may have you believe. They make money by making people fear and obey their ideas without questioning. Birth is not an emergency waiting to happen.

    In fact, I wish a neighbor had called us up years ago when his wife ended up going into labor & delivering right in their kitchen with 911 on the phone! We could have offered a calming presence with added knowledge. It sounded chaotic, and he smoked a pack of cigarettes in the few minutes to the hospital after the birth (while most likely speeding, knowing him) which is not a good atmosphere in any way.

    I am not a midwife nor an herbalist, however, but would have no issues being a coach and offering support and giving suggestions if needed go help things go smoothly or to encourage a trip to the hospital as per a plan that should be already in place.

    I've been at many of my own homebirths, lol, and studied extensively beforehand each time. I also have collected a library of resources (books, papers, magazines) on the subject and have retained much of the knowledge gleaned over that time & from my midwives whom I kept in touch with. I am very passionate and outspoken about this subject as you know.

    There are certainly bad midwives out there and some that are either very limited in their training and experience, or not taught quite right as in some of the conventional medical system's midwifery training schools. Those still have the system's interests at their core.

    There was a well known very bad and bitter midwife practicing here in Manitoba in 1999 and surrounding years, just as there are bad professionals in any profession. But, she was the one who pushed for & arranged for government to get involved and actually outlaw traditional midwifery, which took choice & convenience away from birthing mothers. It was done with a lot of deception on her part & the part of the medical system. I was one involved at the time & understand some of what went down. She had very few clients before because she was actually the most dangerous midwife in Manitoba from my understanding and word in the homebirth community spread quickly about both good & bad.

    Government school taught midwives' focus is usually much different than a traditional midwifery would be. My traditional midwives said that the classes were not going to give the quality of midwives nor service that mothers needed. Both considered "going official" until they looked into the training further and said it was very poor and direct more births unnecessarily to the doctors. They voiced their dissatisfaction and were subsequently silenced. There is/was a famous/infamous rogue midwife practicing in BC (and one MB somewhere) who feels much the same. My understanding is that she is/was an excellent and very experienced traditional midwife, just not recognized by the province as licensed.

    My understanding is that often, instead of gaining further specialized training in how to deal with breach births, etc., they are told to just ship the mother off to the hospital. A good midwife will know the methods to help in emergency situations and know when it is beyond his/her expertise and know if a specialized midwife should be asked to attend beforehand or have her on standby. They can tell, most often by sound, if the birth is normal or if there is a problem. Of course, they watch for other indicators too. Often there is a simple solution to something where most people would panic.

    Check out "Dancing For Birth" for information on the benefit of movement and position for helping in many difficult births. I would love to take this course...this I would absolutely love...but it is too expensive for me and requires expensive travel. This past year, classes were online and discounted, but I couldn't do it even so. 😔

    Another problem here with these still relatively new types of midwives is that they can only operate in large centers and the women have to travel, sometimes hours, to them. That is certainly not right nor safe, among other things like racial quotas & denial of service. They denied me spots multiple times and would never give a solid reason, so I had mine at home rather than being forced into a hospital, with much knowledge beforehand (some internet information is actually accurate, but you need trusted sources, not just a blogger!).

    I was considered high risk because of my age, most likely (but of course I will never know their reason), but never had any issues that we weren't prepared for in advance and they were minimal. Preparation is paramount. I told them early on in my pregnancies when they refused me & said to get a doctor & go to the hospital for birth, that I was having my babies at home. And I did. I have never regretted being my own advocate.

    If a woman is healthy before pregnancy and nutrition is good, pregnancy is going well and check ups (if you choose to go...I skipped the stress of doctors with my last one and was actually better off) are positive, there is actually not a lot of risk to the natural process of birth, even if you are older. It is better than being caught on the highway or birthing where you are scared or uncomfortable with the surroundings.

    Having said this, all home birth couples should always have a back up plan (hospital) and know basic emergency procedures for specific situations. It is always wise to be prepared for anything. If you homebirth, you always assume the risk. That is understood. There is no guarantee wherever you find yourself.

    I know not everyone agrees with me, and that is fine. A choice needs to be made, and it should always be where the birthing mom feels most comfortable and plan from there.

    Anyway, what a sidetrack for this thread! I need to get off my soapbox.

    Ah...back to the much milder & less controversial subject of magnesium & cramping... lol

  • toreytorey Moderator Posts: 3,072 admin

    That is the state of midwives in BC. You can't legally practice without certified training. My niece is training to be a midwife but is going through a US college and then she will just have to write the provincial jurisprudence exam. She mentioned that the other midwives that she has spoken to do a lot of referrals to the hospital. Her training is less about that. The reason she is becoming a midwife is because of the process she was put through for her last pregnancy.

    If I were to have a patient like you @LaurieLovesLearning, I would probably feel comfortable. I know another woman who has had home births that I would also feel comfortable with. Her mother-in-law was a traditional midwife and also declined to become certified when she found out what the training and certification process involved. She still attends home births but not as the "midwife" of record.

    Most people are not well prepared enough or supported enough by their midwives. As you say, at the first indication of anything, you are shipped off to the hospital. One young woman I know was determined to have a home birth and because it was taking longer than expected (or planned), she wound up in the hospital having a Caesarian. We have a lot of doulas in our community and I think they might be a better advocate for the mum than the midwives.

    My fears arise a lot from my "medical" training as a First Responder where they are telling you all the things that could go wrong, as well as the difficulties I had with my own births.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,080 admin

    @torey Good for her! Experience is also a great teacher as you know.

    Doulas are really good. That's what a lot of the traditional midwives opted for after the change. They come with extra knowledge & can suggest helps, but that is all.

    I know a young lady who was terrified of labor when she learned that she was expecting. She had just finished her nurse's training. ☹ Fear steals so much from people.

    I am sorry that you had difficulties. I wish you had experienced better.

  • stephanie447stephanie447 Ayurvedic Practitioner Annapolis, MDPosts: 337 ✭✭✭

    As a practitioner, KP tends to favor higher doses of supplements and herbs for more impact, but I'm personally a bit more cautious. He still always recommended in the classes I took to start off with a low dose and slowly increase to tolerance.

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