Magnesium for Anxiety

We talk about magnesium all the time here at Wild Flora Dispensary, but that’s just because magnesium is used in more than 300 pathways in the body.

One of those pathways helps to modulate the stress response through the HPA axis. If you read our previous blog, you’ll know that it is estimated a lot of us are deficient in magnesium. Stress and anxiety are a presentation of the stress response being triggered; a sign your body does not feel safe. This could be from any number of external factors, such as environment, certain people you encounter, past trauma. As well as a few internal factors, such as hormonal imbalances, deficiencies, or other conditions that exacerbate feelings of anxiety. For today, let’s focus on deficiencies. 

When our stress response (the fight or flight response) is activated, it puts pressure on our HPA axis. The HPA axis is the inter-relation between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands. Think of the HPA axis like two feet pushing into the sand, and stress an extra weight in one foot. The sand is like your nutrient stores. Short-term, this pressure is easily rectified with rest and the hole files in. Long-term or extra pressure, the hole is deeper, and takes longer to fill with more sand (nutrient stores).

With any type of stressor, magnesium levels in the blood rise in order to combat excess cortisol and adrenaline. However, since the kidney tightly modulates blood magnesium, this is quickly excreted [4]. Magnesium in the brain also helps to inhibit the excitatory neurotransmitter, glutamate, while supporting GABA activity in order to keep us calm [3]. Consistent and repetitive activation of the fight or flight response can deplete magnesium stores.

Usually magnesium is stored in our muscle cells, and more than half is stored in our bones [3]. In the table below you can see that the symptoms of being in a stressed or anxious state mimic those of a magnesium deficiency.

In addition to just being anxious, diets high in sodium, calcium, protein (relatively), caffeine and alcohol, all affect magnesium balance. Without a solid intake of magnesium containing foods, the risk of deficiency or suboptimal levels is pretty easy to achieve in the current environment. See our Instagram for heaps of food sources of magnesium HERE, or our blog post on back pain. So now we know how anxiety affects magnesium levels, how does magnesium affect anxiety?

A review of the research by Boyle et al [2] and Sartori et al [5] shows us that deficiency in magnesium enhanced anxiety symptoms, as well as depression. Pickering et al [3] also report that low magnesium status was found in “subjects suffering from psychological stress or associated symptoms”. In trial studies by Anderson et al and Boyle et al [1, 2] most people found reduced anxiety with magnesium supplementation for mild-to-moderate anxiety and PMS based anxiety, but not in postpartum anxiety.

It seems simple to supplement with mass magnesium when you have depleted your stores, but you know what works better? Implementing sources of magnesium, both in food and topically, to make sure you never reach depletion and bonus - you feel more capable to handle stressors!

Our topical range of magnesium is available in a cream and a spray. Both are very easily applied and absorbed through the skin. Your body will thank you for it


[1] doi: 10.1097/EBP.0000000000000992

[2] doi: 10.3390/nu9050429

[3] doi: 10.3390/nu12123672

[4] doi: 10.3390/nu10060730

[5] doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2011.07.027

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