Magnesium, the Miracle Mineral

Magnesium Salt

In all my years of stressing over one thing or another, nothing has helped me quite like magnesium – specifically, magnesium chloride.

When we’re stressed, our bodies dump magnesium through waste processes. This is one reason why it’s so important to include magnesium in your health routine, especially if you suffer from anxiety or stress frequently.

Magnesium is a very crucial mineral that most people are severely lacking in their diets. It’s extremely important for maintaining mental health and stability, aids immensely in the relaxation of joints and muscle tissue, and helps to prevent calcification in the body.

I often notice immediate relief from muscle cramping and joint pain when I apply magnesium chloride topically.

Magnesium regulates the “HPA Axis”, or the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, which in turn regulates our stress response.

“Supplementing Mg levels in mice has been demonstrated to reduce the expression of anxiety-related behavior” – Neil Bernard Boyle, Clare Lawton, and Louise Dye.

While many people see improvements in their stress response after using a bio-available source of magnesium, it’s also been shown to improve symptoms of depression.

The same article written by the individuals mentioned above – published in the US National Library of Medicine – states that “An impoverished Mg (magnesium) diet is associated with depression in humans”, and “Low serum and cerebrospinal fluid Mg levels have also been associated with depressive symptomology and suicidality”.

There are several different types of magnesium including magnesium sulfate and magnesium citrate, however there is some controversy on their bioavailability, as well as concerns that they may be dehydrating due to their hydrophilic properties.

Both of these types of magnesium are commonly used to relieve both stress and occasional constipation, and are generally more inexpensive than magnesium chloride.

My absolute favorite ways to use magnesium are in sprays and soaks.

There are several different brands of magnesium spray. Some tend to have a strange oily feeling that doesn’t go away, while others absorb right into the skin and leave very little residue on the skin’s surface. The brand I like to use is this one. I’m not at all sponsored by this company, it’s just much less oily than others I’ve tried.

When first starting to use magnesium spray, start off slowly to acclimate your body to its new magnesium levels. 10-15 sprays per day is a good place to start!

What I Use Magnesium For….

For sore muscles after hiking or working out, I will use 5-10 sprays of magnesium chloride solution on the area and massage it in. I tend to notice effects immediately with this method.

Magnesium spray is also wonderful for headache relief – I am a common headache-haver, and nothing works quite like magnesium spray. For headaches, I massage 4-6 sprays onto the back of my neck, shoulders, temples and hairline, and then repeat several times after the first coat has dried.

For menstrual cramps, I will rub 5-10 sprays on my abdomen, and then repeat multiple times after each coat dries. For those with minor menstrual pain, I could see magnesium working especially well.

For stress & anxiety, I will dissolve half a tub of magnesium chloride flakes into a bucket of very warm water and use as a foot soak for 15-25 minutes. This method works best for me as a mental relaxant, and is also a soothing, comforting experience all the way around.

I’ll usually add 3-4 drops of lavender or eucalyptus essential oil to the water to make it an even more relaxing experience!

If you have a bathtub, I highly recommend adding magnesium chloride flakes to a full bath. If you’re like me and don’t have a bathtub (we’ll get through this together) magnesium foot soaks work almost just as well.

For restful sleep, I will basically just apply magnesium chloride spray to my entire body, focusing on my abdominal area, calves, feet, neck and shoulders.

I also use magnesium chloride spray whenever I think about it, just for magnesium maintenance!

Make Your Own Magnesium Spray…

If you’d like a more economical option or just don’t feel like going out and searching for a pre-made solution, you can totally make your own magnesium spray!

Just dissolve magnesium chloride flakes in hot distilled water in a 1:1 ratio!

It’s that easy.

You can add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil if you like, as well.

The Bottom Line…

Overall, magnesium is one of my top go-to’s in uncomfortable situations, from stress to headaches. In my opinion, it’s a must-have wellness tool for everyone, especially those dealing with sleep issues, anxiety, depression or aches and pains.

If you want to do your own research on magnesium, here is the article I referenced towards the beginning of this post. It’s filled with more cool studies, information and science about this amazing mineral!

What are your experiences with magnesium? I want to know!

Peace & Healing,

xoxo – Mackenna

Aloe Vera, Nature’s Slimy Skin Serum

Ahh, aloe.

When I was little, I was obsessed with the slimy, antibacterial succulent. Any time I got any little scratch or cut, I would beg my mom to slice open a leaf of aloe vera so I could slather it all over the aforementioned injury.

I didn’t know much about aloe, or any of it’s magical healing properties, I just knew it was slimy, looked cool and left a cold, tingly feeling on my skin.

As I learned more about this amazing plant, my aloe admiration began to grow.

While I don’t particularly enjoy consuming aloe (it’s a textural thing, mostly) I absolutely love using it topically.

Back when I had a ton of Candida Albicans yeast overgrowth in my body, my face would frequently break out in horrible red rashes. Aloe vera helped to soothe and calm these breakouts, so I used it often.

Aloe vera has been used for centuries by ancient Chinese, Native American, Mexican, Japanese, Indian, and Egyptian civilizations. According to Lily of the Desert‘s website, Cleopatra used aloe vera on her skin regularly. I don’t know how to fact check this, but she’s said to have had glowing skin, so I completely believe it.

Aloe vera contains antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral properties, as well as antioxidant vitamins A and E.

A wonderful addition to any vegan or vegetarian diet, aloe contains amino acids, vitamin B-12 and even choline! Choline, which plays an important role in the metabolic process, as well as maintaining cell structure, is one of the more difficult nutrients to find on a vegan diet, and is usually ingested in things like eggs, meat and fish.

When it comes to healing properties, aloe is beneficial when taken internally as well as when used externally.

Aloe is a commonly used tool in the world of gut health, due to its gentle laxative effects and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps to increase peristaltic activity in the intestines, resulting in improved bowel function. It’s also very lubricating, which soothes the gut and helps to maintain proper digestion. According to this study, aloe vera may also help to increase the good bacteria living in your gut.

Now onto the main reason I use aloe vera – its powerful skin healing properties!

When applied topically, aloe vera deeply moisturizes the skin, promotes collagen production, soothes inflammation, kills acne-causing bacteria and protects the skin from free radical damage; helping to slow down signs of aging.

Every time I apply aloe vera gel, I notice a difference in my skins overall appearance overnight.

It softens, plumps and moisturizes my skin while seriously diminishing redness. If I have any blemishes, they noticeably reduce in size as well.

I only use two types of aloe.

Bottled organic 100% aloe vera juice, and fresh, whole aloe vera leaves.

When it’s available at the health food store, I will usually opt for the fresh leaf because it has all it’s raw enzymes and nutrients intact. However, I still notice incredible benefits from using the juice as well.

If you’re using aloe juice, simply moisten a cotton pad with the juice and wipe it over your (freshly cleansed) face and neck. You can also pop a couple of aloe juice soaked cotton pads in the fridge and use them as soothing under-eye pads.

If you’re using the whole leaf, filet the leaf by slicing the green outer skin to reveal the magical goopy inner gel. I will usually just rub this into my skin, but you can also blend it to make a hydrating gel and use it that way.

It will form a protective, hydrating film over your skin. For this reason, I recommend using it in the evening before bed, so you can rinse off any remaining aloe when you wake up.

You can use the same aloe filet for another day or two – just scratch off the protective film it will form overnight. (Put any sliced pieces of aloe on a paper towel on a plate, as it can stain surfaces over time. I learned this the hard way!)

As far as consuming aloe vera, there are only two ways I’ve been able to get it down.

Method number one is to blend it into something. Overall, it has a very mild flavor, so it goes relatively unnoticed in smoothies and juices.

Method number two is chopping it up into teeny tiny pieces and dumping it into fresh coconut water. The aloe actually pairs nicely with the coconut water and makes for a refreshing beverage. I also kind of enjoy the little surprise bites of aloe with each sip.

While it’s definitely a little weird to eat, the benefits make it well worth the strange eating experience!

Overall, aloe vera is definitely on my list of the most magical plants of all time. It’s one of those things that I believe was gifted to us by nature, free to use, asking nothing in return but for us to show appreciation and love to ourselves.

If you want to read more about this fascinating plant on your own, I’ll link the source I used to write the science-y aspects of this blog post here.

If you are already a fan of aloe, let’s obsess over it together!

If you’re convinced and want to try it out, let me know if you have any questions or comments… I want to know what you think!

Peace & Healing,

xoxo – Mackenna

Candida Albicans: How I Got Rid of It

Ever since I got off the antibiotics I was on for my acne as a teen, I’ve struggled with gut imbalances, parasites and yeast overgrowth.

I was too young and emotional at the time to really consider what my issues could be due to.

My mom has had IBS her whole life, so I assumed I was destined for a life of pain and gut issues.

It took me about four years to truly get a handle on what was going on with my body.

It wasn’t until my face started breaking out in huge, red rashes a couple of times per week that I had an inkling it could be Candida.

As my carb and sugar addiction grew out of control, I started getting vaginal Candida overgrowth when I traveled, commonly known as the dreaded “yeast infection”.

That’s when I knew this was serious.

If you aren’t too familiar with Candida, it’s basically a yeast that generally lives inside the digestive tract, but can spread to several other areas of the body including the skin, mouth and reproductive organs.

The main thing to note about Candida is that it absolutely loves sugar.

It loves sugar so much in fact, that it will do pretty much anything to get it.

In fact, many specialists believe that Candida Albicans can actually hijack your brain and give you sugar cravings.

It’s what I call an opportunistic bugger. If your gut flora is imbalanced or you have a weak constitution, Candida will take advantage of your weaknesses and use them to spread.

Let me be clear about one thing: everyone has Candida.

It only becomes a problem when it grows out of balance.

That being said, I believe that if a person is having almost any form of (non-life threatening) issue from a stuffy nose to constipation, a Candida cleanse is a great place to start.

Candida overgrowth is such a common problem, that ruling it out of any health issues you’re having could save a ton of time, money and suffering.

I have a blog post about my experience on the “Vegan Ketogenic Diet”, which is essentially a sugar-free, low carb, high vegetable diet. In that post (I’ll link it for you here) I explain in a little more detail the benefits I experienced from this diet, but it’s basically the diet I used to begin clearing up my Candida overgrowth.

Just a few of the problems I was experiencing from Candida overgrowth were constipation, fatigue, headaches, skin rashes, acne, yeast infections, bloating, depression and general indigestion.

Aside from following a strict sugar-free, vegan diet for about five weeks, I also took several herbs/supplements: Wormwood, black walnut, high quality probiotics, hydrochloric acid or HCL, high quality enzymes and aged garlic extract.

If I were to go back and recommend anything to my past self, I would also include oregano oil and black seed oil to my regimen, especially after witnessing others’ success with this protocol.

I also loaded up on organic, cold-pressed coconut oil – a natural anti-fungal – and seasoned my dishes with as much onion and garlic as I wanted. (Candida hates pungent herbs and spices)

I stayed away from any form of sugar (including unprocessed sugars like maple syrup and fruit), alcohol of any kind and starchy/carby vegetables like potatoes and many types of squashes. I don’t actually drink alcohol myself, but I do sometimes drink kombucha.

I did however notice flare-ups in my digestive issues when I drank too much kombucha, so I avoided that as well. I actually haven’t consumed it much since – I feel way better overall when I don’t drink it.

There are plenty of sources online covering Candida diets, but I saw a major decline in yeast while still eating several of the “No-No” foods many Candida diets discourage, such as fermented veggies and yogurts, mushrooms and certain low-carb veggies like spaghetti squash.

As I mentioned earlier, I also followed a vegan diet on this protocol. If you aren’t plant-based or vegan, I would highly recommend cutting out dairy while you’re on any Candida diet, as it can be highly inflammatory for many people.

Bottom line, I encourage you to do your own research and form your own opinions based on the studies/evidence you find.

One of the worst things you can do for healing success is to follow any one unqualified person’s advice (this includes myself) to a T.

One of the most helpful techniques I learned was to practice self-love whenever I felt down about my situation or started seriously craving carbs.

I indulged in several large cups of matcha or hot tea daily, with creamy, sugar-free, home-made almond milk.

I made delicious sugar-free treats that I could feel good about. (I have plenty of awesome sugar-free recipes on my Instagram and on here, so definitely check those out if you’re interested)

I spent time doing yoga and taking care of my body with longer showers, face masks and hair treatments. I also made sure to drink plenty of filtered or spring water with lemon to flush out toxins and keep my body functioning optimally while dealing with any Candida die-off.

*Pure coconut charcoal can also help improve die-off symptoms, but make sure to take it away from food or other supplements as it can absorb good things as well as bad things.*

I coaxed myself into feeling excited to try out new recipes and seeing how close I could make my Candida friendly treats to the “real thing”, rather than feeling restricted.

Anyway, if any of this resonates with you or you’re having any of the health issues I did, it might be time to consider a Candida cleanse!

As always, please speak to your medical professional before going on any strict diet or cleanse, and especially before taking any herbs, supplements etc.

And if you have any questions, my Instagram DM’s and e-mail are always open!

Peace & Healing,

xoxo – Mackenna