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Magnesium Massage in Hospice and Palliative Care

Published on December 8, 2009

Magnesium massage can be very helpfull in hospice and palliative care

Hospice care is end-of-life care provided by health professionals and volunteers, which give medical, psychological and spiritual support to help people have peace, comfort and dignity in their last days. The caregivers normally try to control pain and other symptoms so a person can remain as alert and comfortable as possible. Everyone facing life-threatening illness needs some degree of supportive care in addition to treatment for their conditions.

You matter because of who you are. You matter to the last moment of your life, and we will do all we can , not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die.– Dame Cicely Saunders

Palliative care is not the same as hospice care. The goal of palliative care is to relieve the pain, symptoms and stress of serious illness – whatever the prognosis. It is appropriate for people of any age and at any point in an illness. It can be delivered along with treatments that are meant to cure you. Hospice care provides humane and compassionate care for people in the last phases of incurable disease so that they may live as fully and comfortably as possible until the end. Palliative care actually makes more sense because medical prognosis is often wrong.  Not everyone given a terminal prognosis dies.

One of the problems with the concept of hospice is that it is often not started soon enough. Sometimes the doctor, patient, or family member will resist hospice because he or she thinks it means you’re giving up, or that there’s no hope. This is not true there is almost always hope. If you get better or the cancer goes into remission, you can be taken out of the hospice program.

It is amazing what can be done when we do things right, when we apply emergency and intensive care medicines every few hours, employing their life saving effects for a few days. Medicines like magnesium chloride and sodium bicarbonate have the medical muscle to save peoples lives in a heartbeat during emergency situations. Imagine employing this same power constantly though out the day.

In general, as we age our tendency to compounded accumulative magnesium deficiencies only increases leaving us increasingly vulnerable to a wide range of disorders and in the final analysis, to a miserable death.

When we employ highly concentrated nutritional elements like magnesium chloride, iodine and sodium bicarbonate with late stage cancer patients we see things that mainstream oncologists don’t. This chapter is about magnesium massage, about how to employ one of these super nutritional medicines in the most comforting way possible. Magnesium massage is the type of treatment that Cleopatra would have enjoyed; a medical treatment for kings and queens that can be employed by anyone in their own homes if one has a loved one with caring and willing hands or if one has access to a professional massage therapist.

Many people needlessly suffer pain because they don’t get enough magnesium.– Dr. Mildred Seelig

When a patient is facing a serious illness, they need relief; relief from pain, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite and shortness of breath as well as relief from stress. Doctors often think that Palliative and Hospice Care need to focus on improving patients’ ability to tolerate aggressive medical treatments. But patients themselves feel the need for support to be able to carry on with everyday life; they need to get their life back on some level that makes them feel that life is worth living. In short, they want to feel better. Nothing will make a person feel better than magnesium massage and that is why I recommend it universally even to patients at deaths door.

Study after study demonstrates that for all mammals, receiving touch that is pleasurable, safe and appropriate reduces sickness, depression and aggressive behaviors.– Dr. Ben Benjamin

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 and nothing does this better than touch. The most beautiful forms of touch are healing techniques and this is what professional massage therapists’ true aim is, to heal through touch. Many studies have demonstrated that receiving touch that is pleasurable, safe and appropriate reduces sickness, depression and aggressive behaviors. Thus massage has its application in both therapy and medicine.

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. The hunger for touch is a real human need.[1] And though touch is physical, the need 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 thought they have gotten used to a world and life of cutaneous deprivation.

Clinically the lack of touch leads to a host of emotional, physical and developmental problems in 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. Today, not only patients but also the medical establishment recognizes the importance of alternative therapies, and particularly the importance of massage therapy in comprehensive cancer care. Massage, like most alternative cancer therapies, is most effective when used in conjunction with other treatments. Magnesium massage combines the transdermal application of magnesium chloride with any one of a variety of massage techniques creating a potent medical treatment in its own right.

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Cutaneous satisfaction is associated with enhanced learning, improved IQ, language acquisition, reading achievement, memory, general neonate development, preterm infant development, reduced self-mutilating behavior in the severely mentally retarded, expanded external awareness in autistic patients, improved geriatric health, decreased childhood clinginess and fears of exploring the environment, elimination of inappropriate self-stimulation and public masturbation behavior in children, and improved visual-spatial problem solving.

Hospitalized patients recover more rapidly from injury and physical or psychiatric illness with attention to touch needs. Current thinking defines touch as the primary organizer (or, in the case of neglect and abuse, “disorganizer”) of normal human development when viewed at biological, psychological and even social levels. A person’s sense of self apparently originates in body awareness, body functions, and body activities that center around the sense of touch.

Though I was trained to use my hands before using needles (acupuncture) it was not until I sat clinic with a Brazilian doctor who does five day detox retreats – with very sick patients – that I really learned to appreciate what massage can bring to the table in terms of realizing radically positive healing results. Over half his staff were trained massage therapists. Patients received two or three massages a day and it was simply amazing to see what this doctor could do in only five days.

Massage is unique in cancer therapy and has great application in Hospice Care because it is able to remedy feelings of isolation that many patients battling a difficult disease encounter. 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.

Patients undergoing chemotherapy often find that treatments that help them relax their mind and body will lessen side effects like nausea, restlessness, and fever.

Massage therapists have the great pleasure of seeing the profound relief that massage can provide to people undergoing intense treatments like chemo and radiation therapy. Helping people feel better satisfies on a deep level of human experience and there is simply not enough of this in the field of medicine. With our heart and hands working together we can reach directly into another person’s being through the surface of their skin. We can touch someone very deeply and when we do, we are touched equally. The laws of giving and receiving work perfectly in the world of touch! Now we are adding to the mix one of the most potent medicinals available in the world of medicine and applying it all over the body for transdermal absorption. Magnesium is absolutely essential for healthy living and when applied liberally onto the skin we find patients responding most wonderfully.

Magnesium 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 per cent 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.

The skin provides the best avenue into the body for many medicinals and 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 peoples’ lives in emergency rooms. We simply use the magnesium oil like we would massage oils, or create a special blend mixing essential oil or other massage oils together with the magnesium chloride, which is quite slippery even though there is no oil in the ‘magnesium oil.’

Though giving magnesium by injection is the quickest way of restoring normal blood and tissue levels of magnesium, it is expensive and sometimes uncomfortable.  Transdermal magnesium chloride therapy is inexpensive, safe, a do-it-yourself at home technique that can easily replace uncomfortable injections in anything other than emergency room situations.

Massage therapists should be introducing their clients to the tremendous 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 where absorption is not guaranteed. In magnesium chloride oil we have a potent natural substance that penetrates the cells with stunning result on cell biochemistry and when loving touch is added to the mix the results are heartwarming to say the least.

What a few can do with intravenous magnesium injections everyone can do with transdermal magnesium.

Transdermal administration of magnesium bypasses the liver and creates “tissue saturation,” the ability to get the nutrients where we want them, directly in the circulation, where they can reach body tissues at high doses, without loss. Combined with tissue manipulation that occurs during massage, the blood is also brought closer to the surface of the skin thus allowing faster absorption of magnesium chloride into the cells.

Transdermal mineral therapy with magnesium chloride is the most powerful, safe medical intervention we have to care for many of our patients needs. With the simple application of this slightly oily solution on the skin or used in baths we can easily have our clients take up their magnesium to healthier levels. Magnesium Oil is the perfect companion to a massage in any setting, fulfilling further the purposes of giving healing touch to patients.

Universal Application

Magnesium deficit may participate in theclinical pattern of ageing – neuro muscular, cardiovascular and renal symptomatologies.

Dr. Mildred Seelig postulated that magnesium deficiency increases morbidity and mortality. “Little attention has been paid to special magnesium needs of old people, to whether magnesium inadequacy might contribute to the aging process, or to whether magnesium supplementation might have any beneficial effects in the aged”.[2] It is widely researched and recognized that magnesium deficiency commonly occurs in critical illness and correlates with a higher mortality and worse clinical outcomes in the intensive care unit (ICU).[3]

Some of the principle causes of magnesium deficiency in aging and critical illness are gastrointestinal and renal losses. As we age, our kidneys lose their efficiency in regulation of magnesium. Magnesium absorption decreases with age. Around the age of seventy it becomes two-thirds of what it usually is at around the age of thirty.

Transdermal magnesium chloride is highly effective in pain relief, calming agitation, and is easier to use when oral intake of food may become impaired in old age or disease. It is much easier to apply magnesium oil on the skin of an elderly person than it is to submit them to force feeding of food, pills or IV administration of drugs to compensate for losses.

Hopefully we will hear more about touch in medicine. There are actually many ways physicians can touch their patients.  Touch (as opposed to or in addition to high tech) focuses less on using technology and more on things like spending time with patients, physician listening skills, and on medical massage, which staff can be employed to do. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel outlined a high touch approach to medicine, which he claimed may be the foundation for fixing health care in the U.S. With the results I have seen with magnesium massage used in the context of a full Natural Allopathic protocol I would have to agree.

One mother of an autistic child reports having used a form of therapeutic healing touch for five months with noticeable results. “He 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.” Touch in the form of massage, affection, hugs, cuddles and plain pure tenderness diffuses emotional tension. It grounds the entire system and touches our souls. When a person has not been touched in a long while a simple and tender touch can send a person into a flood of tears for the heart feels the release of tension abruptly. Touch can be a communication of love and is a most powerful way to communicate empathy, friendship, approval, affirmation and love to another. Love matters in medicine but contemporary medicine in love with its technology and toxic drugs has forgotten this, forgotten that its patients are humans with human needs.

Healing and health systems like Reiki, Polarity and Quantum touch basically have us touch a person without any movement at all of the hands. There is no pressure applied, no technique one has to learn like they teach in massage schools. It’s just the pure application of touch. Though each system gives different instructions, the end effect is similar. Essentially a person simply puts their warm hands on certain areas of the body and just holds them there. Reiki is very popular now and it is effective enough to get the attention of some medical people and hospitals that understand that it can help their patients through some trying moments.

If we define touch as love we can easily see why. Love is healing and loving touch is wonderfully healing. When we touch with love and the highest inner intensions, which are taught by these healing systems, positive healing energy is transmitted. Something is passed on through the hands and what happens is often very beautiful. Scientifically we know that infrared is radiated out through the hands and this all by itself has its physiological effect.

[1] Unwanted babies in the past were often deposited in institutions where modern antiseptic procedures and adequate food seemed to guarantee them at least a fighting chance for a healthy life. But the babies died, not from infectious diseases or malnutrition, but by wasting away from a condition called “marasmus.” Sterile surroundings did not cure it; having enough food made no difference. These unwanted babies died from a completely different kind of deprivation: lack of touch. When the babies were removed from these large, impersonal institutions and placed in environments where they received physical nurturing along with formula, the marasmus reversed. They gained weight and finally began to thrive. Touch is vital for survival in the very young.

[2] Possible Role of Magnesium in Disorders of the Aged; Mildred S. Seelig, M.D   Volume 3a, Modern Aging Research
Intervention In the Aging Process, Part A: Quantitation, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research ; pages 279-305  available at:

[3] Magnesium deficiency in critical illness. J Intensive Care Med. 2005 Jan-Feb;20(1):3-17.  Entrez Pubmed

Hi, I'm Dr. Mark Sircus, AC., OMD, DM (P), a doctor and writer of more than 23 books that have sold over 80,000 copies all over the world. My first major book was "Transdermal Magnesium Therapy" which afforded me the title of "Magnesium Man." It has been translated into five languages and has reduced the suffering of many people.

On my website there are hundreds if not a thousand free articles, so you can dive deep into my work. However if you need personalized help, you are more than welcome to schedule a consultation.

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