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Randomized Controlled Trial
. 2017 Apr 12;12(4):e0174817.
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0174817. eCollection 2017.

Effect of Transdermal Magnesium Cream on Serum and Urinary Magnesium Levels in Humans: A Pilot Study

Free PMC article
Randomized Controlled Trial

Effect of Transdermal Magnesium Cream on Serum and Urinary Magnesium Levels in Humans: A Pilot Study

Lindsy Kass et al. PLoS One. .
Free PMC article


Background: Oral magnesium supplementation is commonly used to support a low magnesium diet. This investigation set out to determine whether magnesium in a cream could be absorbed transdermally in humans to improve magnesium status.

Methods and findings: In this single blind, parallel designed pilot study, n = 25 participants (aged 34.3+/-14.8y, height 171.5+/-11cm, weight 75.9 +/-14 Kg) were randomly assigned to either a 56mg/day magnesium cream or placebo cream group for two weeks. Magnesium serum and 24hour urinary excretion were measured at baseline and at 14 days intervention. Food diaries were recorded for 8 days during this period. Mg test and placebo groups' serum and urinary Mg did not differ at baseline. After the Mg2+ cream intervention there was a clinically relevant increase in serum magnesium (0.82 to 0.89 mmol/l,p = 0.29) that was not seen in the placebo group (0.77 to 0.79 mmol/L), but was only statistically significant (p = 0.02)) in a subgroup of non-athletes. Magnesium urinary excretion increased from baseline slightly in the Mg2+ group but with no statistical significance (p = 0.48). The Mg2+ group showed an 8.54% increase in serum Mg2+ and a 9.1% increase in urinary Mg2+ while these figures for the placebo group were smaller, i.e. +2.6% for serum Mg2+ and -32% for urinary Mg2+. In the placebo group, both serum and urine concentrations showed no statistically significant change after the application of the placebo cream.

Conclusion: No previous studies have looked at transdermal absorbency of Mg2+ in human subjects. In this pilot study, transdermal delivery of 56 mg Mg/day (a low dose compared with commercial transdermal Mg2+ products available) showed a larger percentage rise in both serum and urinary markers from pre to post intervention compared with subjects using the placebo cream, but statistical significance was achieved only for serum Mg2+ in a subgroup of non-athletes. Future studies should look at higher dosage of magnesium cream for longer durations.

Trial registration: ISRCTN registry ID No. ISRTN15136969.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: In the future, Dr Andrea Rosanoff may receive royalties on a magnesium cream for which she has signed an agreement. The cream in which she will have an interest is different than the one used in this pilot study as the magnesium concentration is more than double that used in the pilot study and it is a different formulation. The name of the cream is Natural Calm Cream. The U.S. Patent title is: Cream Transdermal Magnesium Supplement. Publication No. US-2016-0317576-A1. Publication Date: 11/03/2016. This does not alter our adherence to all the PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.


Fig 1
Fig 1. CONSORT flow diagram, showing inclusion and exclusion of participants in the study.

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The authors received no specific funding for this work.