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Magnesium Massage for Cancer Patients

Published on June 14, 2012

Magnesium Massage

Regular massage is an effective way of lowering stress hormone cortisol levels so I recommend magnesium massage for all cancer patients. The use of massage for lowering cortisol levels levels and restoring adrenaline levels started at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, which is generally considered to be one of the world’s top-ranked cancer hospitals. They recognized the importance of this practice for the cancer patient in order for the immune system to recover and to prevent new cancer cell mutations. This practice has become the cornerstone of alternative cancer treatment at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.[1]

Regular massage is an effective way of lowering stress hormone cortisol levels that suppress immune system functioning and have been directly linked to premature death, depression, stress and cancer.

Researchers at the Marie Curie Cancer Centre in Liverpool in England studied the effects of a series of four weekly, full-body massages on the quality of life for patients with advanced cancer. Aside from relaxation, 33% percent reported pain reduction, while 20% percent reported other physical benefits such as decreased edema, increased mobility, and improved skin condition.

Women with advanced breast cancer, for example, who have abnormal daytime levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress, are significantly more likely to die sooner than patients with normal levels of the hormone, Stanford researchers reported. The researchers also found that women with these abnormal cortisol levels had fewer immune system cells known as natural killer cells, and this reduced immunity was associated with higher mortality.

Cortisol (stress hormone) concentrations decreased consistently after massage. – Royal Medical School

According to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, “What is currently being demonstrated about massage through research studies is that the emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing it brings to patients is significant. These effects bring a sense of wellbeing and stimulate the immune system to fight the cancer better. Enhancing circulation could also theoretically allow for greater circulation of immune cells.”

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Research by neuropsychologist James W. Prescott shows that insufficient amounts of physical affection may be a cause of high violence rates in the U.S. For many years, Dr. Prescott was a research scientist and administrator at the National Institutes of Health. He believes that touch deprivation is harmful to people’s physical and psychological wellbeing. According to Dr. Prescott, handling and body contact are essential “nutrients” for the developing brain in humans and other animals. He says depriving infants of physical affection can cause neurological dysfunction, which leads to abnormal and harmful behavior.

Massage Resolves Skin Hunger

Skin hunger is a relatively new term that has been applied to the emotional response engendered by the loss of touch in our society. During WW II, babies in orphanages failed to thrive and even died when deprived of human contact. In a classic study by Harry Harlow, newborn monkeys were taken from their biological mothers and given surrogates made of either wire or soft terry cloth. The baby monkeys consistently chose the soft mother even when deprived of nourishment. The need for bonding outweighed even the basic necessity of food.

Physical affection is very important because wholesome touching puts us more in touch with the more beautiful parts of ourselves.

The hunger for touch is a real human need. And though touch is physical, it provides sustenance and anchoring for our emotional, mental and spiritual selves. This is totally true for babies and only slightly less so for adults even though they have become accustomed to a world and life of cutaneous deprivation.

The hunger for touch is related to our hunger for food. And just as intimacy can be seen differently from love and sex, though we often combine the two, touch also is an activity in and of itself and can be a wholly satisfying experience, as people who give and receive massage well know. The most important way we give love to a baby is through touch.

Clinically, cutaneous deprivation (the lack of touch), leads to a host of emotional, physical and developmental problems in the young and old alike. Research has shown that there are distinct biochemical differences between people who experience touch and those who are severely deprived of it. Baby monkeys who are raised without comforting, nurturing touch do not have that source of security and assurance and they are easily overwhelmed by new experiences. Placed in an unfamiliar environment without a sense of safety, they simply collapse in hysterical screams. They cannot cope with challenging or threatening situations the same way that their touched and comforted buddies can.

I have been using a form of Therapeutic Healing Touch for five months with noticeable results. My autistic son now asks me for “touch” when he can’t calm himself, or when he has a headache or isn’t feeling well. He nearly always wants my hands placed on his forehead.

Dr. Tiffany Field, director of the University of Miami’s Touch Research Institute, describes a study in which children who received massage twice a week showed decreased amounts of depression. They also had significantly less anxiety than the study’s control group. Dr. Field says, “The first sensory input in life comes from the sense of touch while a baby is still in the womb, and touch continues to be the primary means of learning about the world throughout infancy, well into childhood. Touch is critical for children’s growth, development, and health, as well as for adults’ physical and mental wellbeing. Yet American society is dangerously touch-deprived.”

Touch deprivation and somasthetic stress (e.g., pain and “touch trauma”) are rapidly followed by dramatic elevations in pituitary-adrenal plasma cortisol levels, while affectionate and soothing touch are associated with low serum plasma cortisol levels. Plasma cortisol levels have been shown to be a reliable physiological indicator of an organism’s detection of environmental change or stress. Further, it has been shown that with chronic imbalances of plasma cortisol and other hormones and neurochemicals, abnormal brain tissue development as well as the destruction of previously normal brain tissue results. In other words, frequent pleasurable touch results in positive changes in brain tissue, and chronic touch deprivation or trauma results in measurably significant brain damage.

Hospitalized patients recover more rapidly from injury, physical or psychiatric illness when attention is paid to their need for touch. A person’s sense of self apparently originates in body awareness, body functions, and body activities that center around the sense of touch.

The Science

At the end of the five-week period, blood tests indicated an 11% increase in the number of natural killer cells that destroy cancer cells among the participants who received massage therapy. These participants also reported being less depressed, less anxious and less angry, as well as having more vigor than the control group according to the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Medical Centre.

One of the three ongoing studies with women who have stage 1 and stage 2 breast cancer has already shown massage producing a reduction of anxiety and an increase in natural killer cell numbers. Fifty-eight breast cancer patients from the Miami area participated in the study. Participants, who were in the early stages of cancer, received 20-minute massage therapy twice a week for five weeks; others in a control group received no massage therapy.

People living with cancer report that weekly massage improves their quality of life. They have more energy, are better able to perform daily activities, and have less psychological distress according to the Oncology Center of Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Massage intervention for men with HIV showed a significant decrease in their anxiety, a significant increase in relaxation, a significant increase in natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity, a significant increase in cytotoxic T-cells, and a significant decrease in urinary cortisol, according to the International Journal of Neuroscience.

There are many ways to calm a person, many healing and medical treatments that can reduce stress, reduce sensory overload, slow the heart and help a person center. The most beautiful forms of touch possible are actually healing techniques and this is what professional massage therapists’ true aim is, to heal through touch. Many studies have demonstrated that for all mammals, receiving touch that is pleasurable, safe and appropriate reduces sickness, depression and aggressive behaviors. Thus massage has its application in both therapy and medicine.

Magnesium Massage Medical Treatment

One powerful way we can take massage onto the level of a powerful medical treatment is combining massage techniques with transdermal magnesium chloride treatments. The skin provides the best avenue into the body for many drugs. When it comes to magnesium we have a method in our hands that is similar in effect to intravenous magnesium treatments that are used to save people’s lives in emergency rooms. We just use the magnesium oil like we would our massage oils, or create a special blend mixing them together.

Magnesium oil, applied directly to the skin, alleviates chronic pain, muscle cramps, and in general makes our job of opening up and softening muscles and connective tissue much easier. Magnesium is a potent vasodilator, and smooth muscle relaxant. Dr. Linda Rapson, who specializes in treating chronic pain, believes that about 70% of her patients who complain of muscle pain, cramps and fatigue are showing signs of magnesium deficiency. “Virtually all of my patients improve when I put them on magnesium,” says Rapson.

Massage that alleviates pain, when used together with magnesium oil, will markedly and more rapidly increase overall pain relief, restore flexibility, promote healing and replace the deficiencies of this life-sustaining mineral than either could do alone.

Though giving magnesium by injection is the quickest way of restoring normal blood and tissue levels of magnesium, it is expensive and painful and carries many risks. Transdermal Magnesium Therapy is inexpensive, safe, and a do-it-yourself-at-home technique that can replace uncomfortable injections.

Massage therapists should be introducing their clients to the benefits of a magnesium massage and it is they who should suggest to their clients to start using it at home. Transdermal application of magnesium is superior to the commonly recommended oral magnesium supplements and in reality is the best way magnesium can be restored to proper levels.


Often, the most valuable treatments to patients battling a difficult diagnosis are those that can allow the patient to be as comfortable as possible. Patients undergoing chemotherapy often find that treatments that are able to relax their mind and body will dramatically lessen side effects like nausea, restlessness, and fever.

Massage is unique in alternative cancer therapy because it is able to remedy feelings of isolation that many patients battling cancer. The experience of human contact is particularly important when facing a difficult diagnosis and massage can provide that unique experience to cancer patients, who often succumb to feelings of being overwhelmed by the nature of their diagnosis, family implications, and other difficulties associated with cancer treatments.

I of course recommend only the best magnesium oil for such massages. Years ago when I used seawater extracted magnesium oil there was a time when it would turn yellow and smell and feel terrible. Now I use only Ancient Minerals magnesium oil because there is nothing purer on the planet being from an underground 250 million year old deposit.


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Dr. Mark Sircus AC., OMD, DM (P)

Director International Medical Veritas Association
Doctor of Oriental and Pastoral Medicine

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  • bellarhon

    I have borderline low cortisol most of the day and it gets too low at night causing a wake up at 2am then the hypoglycemia sets in.. Anyway, I didn’t realized magnesium would actually lower my cortisol even more. I used the oil the other morning and put it all over for a couple hours before my shower. Probably 2 hours after my shower when I went to the gym I could barely workout due to the muscle fatigue. This fatigue didn’t go away and I recognized it as my old low cortisol symptoms that I had under control.. I think it is wise if dr.’s who tout this to for people with raised cortisol would also state that it may lower it too much in those who have borderline to low cortisol.

  • Blueyes2

    I have had seizure Dx for 37 yrs and taking phenobarbital for almost that long. I have dupuytrens contracture and plantar fibromatosis. I am a massage therapist and believe the “job” has kept the fingers flexible. Nodules are obvious. Huge nodules on my feet that at times are too painful to stand. It has been difficult to find a dr that will even look at my feet much less touch them! Since verapamil is being used to address these issues and good old baking soda is also a calcium channel blocker, is it possible to do foot/hand soaks with a small amount of baking soda daily and possibly see the same results? Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

    • You can do the soaks with baking soda, but try transdermal magnesium oil .
      I had depuytrens contractures in my hands at one time , they wanted to do surgery……but I kept massaging in the Ancient Minerals magnesium oil, 4-5 times a day…..with strong massage ….and it stopped within about two weeks of use… Each day I could feel the tightening of my tnedons loosen up a little and was able to bring my fingers back from a cramped and bent over position to a normally outstretched and flixible position…….now when I stress my hands and feel them locking up…I immediately start this aggressive treatment with the magnesium oil…..putting it on heavily till its dripping and massaging it for 10-15 minutes, and it stops the problem right in its tracks. Used to be I couldn’t write with a pen or pencil because the contracture was so great…needed to splint my fingers etc. Have had no problem since and its been about 7 years now.
      Ancient Minerals magnesium oil will be on sale till the end of Sept. Its worth getting some to keep on hand. And good for so many other things too.
      Claudia French

  • JANE


    • Jane,
      Initially magnesium oil use can cause detox symptoms. This can last for 1-2 weeks and then usually subsides. You may need to increase the amount you are using once you get used to it. 4-5 oral sprays only provides about 90 mg. of magnesium and you didn’t say how much you are using on your skin. Its likely you need more.

  • brecksurfski

    I can’t find where it says how much you can or should use per day for a newly diagnosed prostate cancer patient… the AMOUNT would be EXTREMELY helpful… Can’t order it without KNOWING that basic info

    • Not sure what product you are referring to? Magnesium? Anyone with good kidneys can use up to 2 oz daily transdermally. And should use it heavily. But start out slowly till your body adjusts. Bicarbonate? That depends on your pH which needs to be tested daily… but if for cancer you can start off at a higher dose than others can. Its described in the books and if your circumstances are unusualy you will need to consult directly with Dr. Sircus. Everyone is different in their own specific needs and for what will work. There is no set amount.

  • Ineke

    this is what ‘the world makes a different place’ people like you, let us all try to do something in where we are good in and for free!
    Thank you so much!

  • Thelma Williams

    Dr. Sircus I appreciate your life’s work in teaching people how to take care of their own health.Most people will think twice about who they allow to handle their money but allow anyone to prescribe for them and consult with them abouttheir health. I have been doing more research concerning magnesium and its function in treating some many ailments. Thank you for your referral to an excellent grade of magnesium and a discount for the product also .Human touch has not been given the importance that it should.Hugs,massages, or just a simple touch can mean so much to the receiver and the giver.Thank you for reminding us all to never over look this vital aspect of one of the things that makes us human.

  • Gary Clay

    I have been using transdermal Magnesium therapy on myself over two years now and the immediate release the very first time was nothing less than amazing. I have suffered from musle cramps and pains and pulled or strained muscles and myofacial trigger points over 40 years. Since starting TMT feb. 2010 I have not had one muscle cramp of any significance. Atleast a couple times a week I apply Magnesium oil 1/2- 1 hour before showering. I also supplement with Magnesium. Thank you Dr. Sircus, the world needs more people like you.

  • Coni Lynch

    Thank-you for the discount–magnesium oil is great.

  • alison

    Thank you so, so much Dr. Sircus for providing this discount offer. My finances are shrinking rapidly because of the shrinking dollar. I appreciate caregivers like yourself doing what you can to help those of us trying to take care of our own health and our loved ones. I have purchased another supply and applying it daily.