Magnesium oil is a holistic remedy that is used for various ailments.
But, could the benefits of magnesium, as provided by magnesium oil, translate to hair growth?
In this article, we’ll explore the topic of magnesium oil for hair growth, if it works, and how to use it.
Just keep reading.
Quickly, make sure you take the free hair quiz later in this article.
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What Is Magnesium?
Magnesium is an extremely important mineral. Due to depleted soil quality, we don’t often get enough magnesium.
All minerals, like sodium (Na), calcium (Ca), and potassium (K), work synergistically within our cells. A proper balance between all of these minerals is essential for normal cell function.
When one mineral gets out of balance with the others (levels are too low or too high), it can cause issues. The issues could potentially translate to hair growth, which will be discussed below.
Key Takeaway: Magnesium is an important mineral and balance between all minerals (Na, Ca, K) is essential for proper cell function.
What Is Magnesium Oil?
Unlike its name suggests, magnesium oil isn’t truly an oil.
Magnesium oil consists of magnesium chloride in a water-based solution. It will sometimes contain other added ingredients.
Magnesium oil is applied to the skin in an attempt to increase magnesium levels in the body. Studies suggest this magnesium solution is easily absorbed through the pores on the skin (1).
But, why use magnesium oil as opposed to magnesium supplements?
Many often opt for magnesium oil because the transdermal (through the skin) absorption bypasses the digestive system.
Although absorption through the digestive system isn’t inherently faulty, modern life and the widespread use of pesticides and antibiotics combined with genetically hybridized (and, thus, foreign) wheat products has damaged the integrity of our guts.
Essentially, a suboptimal digestive system (which is common) doesn’t allow for the best absorption of magnesium. Magnesium oil avoids the digestive system altogether.
This means that magnesium oil may have better absorption than magnesium supplements.
- Magnesium oil is not actually an oil, but an aqueous solution of magnesium chloride.
- Magnesium oil is used to increase magnesium levels in the body. Studies suggest magnesium oil is easily absorbed through pores on the skin.
- Transdermal magnesium absorption bypasses the digestive system which can be impaired because of modern circumstances.
- Magnesium oil applied topically may have better absorption than magnesium supplements.
Magnesium Oil for Hair Growth: Does It Really Help?
Magnesium oil has been used by many in an attempt to counteract hair loss. However, there have been no objective studies to measure the effects of magnesium oil on hair growth.
Nonetheless, magnesium is a critical nutrient that plays a role in many cell functions. So, despite the lack of studies, magnesium could indeed play a role in hair growth.
Below is a list of ways magnesium might contribute to hair growth.
Reduces Scalp Calcification
One of the most common forms of hair loss that plagues both men and women is Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA). Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), an enzymatic product of testosterone and the 5α-reductase (5α-R) enzyme, mediates this hair loss (2).
This is because DHT is known to stimulate the activity of a growth factor called TGF-β. This growth factor contributes to the calcification of blood vessels and scarring around the hair follicle that culminates as hair follicle miniaturization.
This miniaturization appears as hair loss on the scalp.
Calcification of the blood vessels on the scalp, or scalp calcification, is a complex process. TGF-β triggers a cascade of events that lead to calcium deposits in the blood vessels. As a result, blood flow is restricted and nutrient supply is decreased to the hair follicle.
Because nutrients like protein, vitamins, and minerals are crucial for hair growth, an impaired blood supply can be extremely detrimental.
Magnesium may help counteract this calcification. Various studies have demonstrated the ability of magnesium to reduce vascular calcification (3). Magnesium deficiency is also associated with vascular calcification (4).
There are many ways that magnesium may accomplish this, however, the mechanisms are still yet to be confirmed.
Magnesium oil use may provide the magnesium needed to help counteract vascular calcification, including on the scalp.
- DHT contributes to scalp calcification which is a hallmark of AGA. This calcification of the blood vessels contributes to follicle miniaturization and hair loss.
- Magnesium has been shown to counteract this calcification. Magnesium deficiencies have also been associated with vascular calcification.
- The mechanisms of magnesium’s anti-calcification properties are still yet to be confirmed.
- Magnesium oil may provide the body with the magnesium it needs to counteract this calcification.
Critical for Energy Production
Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) is the energy currency of the whole body. It powers every single cell function.
The process of ATP production, called the Krebs Cycle, is a multi-step process that involves a myriad of enzymatic and chemical reactions. One of these reactions is the production of ATP from ADP. Magnesium is a co-factor in the conversion of ADP to ATP (4).
Magnesium is also required for ATP to be biologically active. Without it, ATP cannot provide energy to the body.
The Krebs Cycle takes place in the mitochondria, a small cellular organelle. The importance of magnesium-dependent mitochondrial ATP production is evidenced in one relatively new animal study (5).
In this study, rats were genetically programmed to have the genetic material needed to assemble the mitochondrial ATP production system. These rats exhibited marked reductions in ATP production.
Interestingly, researchers found that these rats started to lose their hair and develop wrinkles. When their mitochondrial function was restored, the researchers were able to reverse the visible signs of aging.
Although this was an animal study, mitochondrial dysfunction has been associated with signs of aging in humans.
These findings suggest that improving mitochondrial function and energy production may help reverse hair loss associated with mitochondrial dysfunction. Considering that magnesium plays a critical role in ATP synthesis, it may help support mitochondrial function and reverse hair loss.
However, no studies have been conducted to confirm these assumptions.
- Magnesium plays a critical, irreplaceable role in ATP production in the mitochondrial Krebs Cycle.
- Rats with impaired mitochondrial function and, thus, ATP production exhibit visible signs of aging like wrinkles and hair loss. Restoring mitochondrial function reversed the hair loss and wrinkles.
- Mitochondrial dysfunction has been associated with aging in humans. These findings suggest that restoring mitochondrial energy production may reverse hair loss.
- Considering that magnesium is essential for ATP synthesis, it may help support mitohondrial function and reverse hair loss. No studies have been conducted to confirm this, however.
Regulates Vitamin D
One of the other important roles magnesium plays is promoting vitamin D synthesis (6).
Vitamin D is intricately involved in hair growth (7). It has been suspected to regulate hair cycling, support hair follicle health, and may be involved in stimulating the growth phase of the hair cycle.
It also helps regulate the immune system to prevent autoimmunity. As it relates to hair, Alopecia Areata (AA; an autoimmune disease that results in hair loss) has been strongly linked to diminished vitamin D activity.
In one study of mice fed a magnesium-deficient diet, researchers found that the rats had a significant increase in 24-hydroxylase and a decrease in 1α-hydroxylase.
The 24-hydroxylase enzyme is responsible for degrading vitamin D and inactivating it. In essence, higher levels of 24-hydroxylase mean less active vitamin D.
Coupled with a decrease in 1α-hydroxylase, the enzyme that makes vitamin D biologically active, this puts a serious hamper on vitamin D activity.
Considering vitamin D activity is assumed to be essential for hair growth and possibly preventing AA, supporting vitamin D activity with magnesium is seemingly prudent.
Although there are other factors that can affect vitamin D activity, it’s undeniable that magnesium plays a role.
- Vitamin D is intricately involved with hair growth and diminished vitamin D activity is associated with the development of AA.
- Rats fed a magnesium-deficient diet have increased levels of 24-hydroxylase and decreased levels of 1α-hydroxylase. Together, this puts a serious hamper on vitamin D activity.
- Considering the role vitamin D plays in hair growth and alopeciaareata, supporting vitamin D activity with magnesium is seemingly prudent.
Potential Mast Cell Stabilizer
Mast cells are immune cells that secrete histamine and pro-inflammatory molecules into surrounding tissues. They are responsible for inflammatory responses and allergic reactions.
One of the pro-inflammatory molecules that are primarily released from mast cells is prostaglandin D2 (PGD2) (8). Interestingly, PGD2 levels are elevated in AGA scalps (9). Mast cells are also suspected to play a role in Telogen Effluvium (TE; a type of hair loss where many hairs transition from the growing anagen phase to the resting telogen phase at once) and AA (10, 11).
Mast cells can be stimulated by inflammatory triggers (mold, bacteria and their endotoxins, viruses, and allergens) and a novel peptide called substance P (12).
Substance P is responsible for transmitting pain and is regulated by psychoemotional stress. Magnesium deficiency may also increase substance P levels (13).
Magnesium’s counterbalancing effect on calcium may also help stabilize mast cells. Calcium influx is the trigger for mast cell activation (14).
Acting as a natural calcium channel blocker, magnesium may help regulate mast cell activation (15).
To confirm these findings, more studies, including human studies, are needed to understand if magnesium is truly effective for stabilizing mast cells.
- Mast cells are immune cells that secrete inflammatory mediators like PGD2. PGD2 is elevated in AGA scalps and mast cells may also play a role in AA and TE.
- Mast cells can be activated by inflammatory triggers as well as substance P. Magnesium deficiency may increase substance P levels.
- Magnesium may also stabilize mast cells by blocking calcium channels and regulating calcium influx that activates mast cells.
- Many studies have described the effects of magnesium deficiency on mast cells.
- More studies are needed to confirm these findings.
May Reduce Scalp Tension
Scalp tension is believed to be one of the culprits behind AGA (2). Proponents of this theory suggest that chronic tension of the scalp muscles is the trigger for the downstream effects that lead to AGA progression.
There is a good amount of evidence to support this theory. What is less clear, though, is what causes the chronic scalp tension in the first place.
Magnesium deficiency may contribute to muscle tension (18). With its calcium-blocking properties, magnesium counteracts the muscle tension that results from increased cellular calcium.
Due to these muscle relaxing properties, magnesium oil may help reduce scalp tension that theoretically leads to hair loss. But, again, this hasn’t been directly tested.
- Scalp tension is believed to be one of the culprits behind AGA. In theory, it triggers downstream effects that lead to AGA progression.
- It’s not clear what causes chronic scalp tension, but magnesium may help. Magnesium blocks calcium influx to muscle cells that causes contraction.
- Due to these muscle relaxing properties, magnesium oil may help reduce scalp tension that theoretically leads to hair loss.
How to Use Magnesium Oil Spray for Hair Loss
When purchasing magnesium oil, manufacturers will usually direct you to the best places to apply the product.
However, from personal experience, avoiding the face, neck, and scalp may be helpful because of initial irritation.
There is an adjustment period to magnesium oil, especially when you are magnesium deficient. As you are adjusting and building up your stores, you may experience irritation on your skin.
This usually fades after two to three weeks of consistent use.
Key Takeaway: Follow the directions of application on the product and avoid the face, neck, and scalp due to the initial adjustment period.
Should You Really Use Magnesium Oil for Hair Loss?
There is currently no data to support using magnesium oil to enhance hair growth or reverse hair loss.
Nonetheless, magnesium is an extremely important mineral that is critical for many different processes in the body. A lot of the functions magnesium is involved in are involved in hair growth. So, magnesium likely supports healthy hair growth.
More studies are needed to determine whether or not magnesium supplementation, especially in magnesium oil form, is beneficial for hair growth.
Have you used magnesium oil for hair growth? What was your experience? Leave a comment below.