Mast Cell and Histamine Safe Forms of Magnesium: What to Know When You Have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
Did you know that low magnesium is often a problem with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance? And without enough magnesium, it can be very hard to get healthy again.
Magnesium was one of the first supplements I learned about. I knew about it’s importance for years. But I had trouble navigating all the different forms.
And two forms made me way worse when I wasn’t sure what I was doing. These forms were magnesium citrate and magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts).
Magnesium citrate made me itch all over and I couldn’t sleep.
And when I tried Epsom salts, I started way too high for me at 1 cup. I had horrible joint pains. I had burning urination. And I felt extremely agitated and moody.
I’ll explain why I had trouble with both of these forms in a bit. And why you may find yourself having this trouble if you’re sensitive like me.
It actually took a while for me to sort through all the information and figure out the pros and cons of these different forms of magnesium.
And about 50% of the people I see in my Mast Cell 360 practice are making the same mistakes I was making years ago.
So I want to help you avoid the problems I had by sharing what I learned with you.
Especially because not all forms of magnesium are helpful with Mast Cell and Histamine issues! So, you want to know what to watch out for.
These days, I make sure to supplement with magnesium each and every day. And I take it in a few different forms.
That’s because without enough magnesium, it can be very hard to get healthy again.
For example, without enough magnesium, it can be hard to get your histamine levels in check.
You’ve probably heard of one form of magnesium – Epsom salts. But did you know that Epsom salts are actually a type of magnesium? This form of magnesium is magnesium sulfate.
Magnesium sulfate is just one of the many forms of this important mineral.
But with all the different forms of magnesium available, it can be confusing to know where to start.
And not all forms of magnesium are safe when you have Mast Cell or Histamine issues.
I want to share the importance of getting your magnesium levels up. And I also want to share which magnesium forms may be helpful for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance.
Plus you’ll learn which forms of magnesium you might need to be careful about using if you have Histamine Intolerance.
First, let’s look at the importance of magnesium for overall health. Then we’ll look at its importance specifically for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance.
Why is Magnesium Important? – What to Know When You Have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
It’s important you know that this blog post is for informational and educational purposes. It’s not meant to treat any health condition or to be prescriptive for anyone. Always be sure to work with your healthcare practitioner.
Why is magnesium so important?
It’s because over 300 enzyme reactions in the body use magnesium to work! That’s quite a lot!
Magnesium is needed for:
- mast cell and histamine support
- cardiovascular health
- muscle function
- good digestive function
- energy production
- regulating nerve function
- regulating blood sugar levels
- regulating blood pressure
- making protein
Magnesium is key for so many systems in your body. It helps them work the way they should.
For example, you likely can’t keep your histamine levels low and take care of your mast cells well if your magnesium is low.
And, according to data from the National Institutes of Health, low intake of magnesium over time increases your risk for illness.
So it’s vital that we get our magnesium up to healthy levels.
Here’s something else you should know about magnesium. It’s an essential nutrient. That means our body can’t make it. We have to consume it in food or in supplements.
A long time ago, we got enough magnesium through what we ate. But today our soil doesn’t contain the minerals it did in the past. Plus, the average diet isn’t as healthy as it used to be.
In 2018, it was estimated that up to 45% of Americans had low levels of magnesium. This is because of a few different reasons.
Research has also shown around 60% of Americans don’t eat enough high magnesium foods anymore.
And even if you eat high magnesium foods, generally only about 30% to 40% of magnesium is absorbed from foods.
Since soils have become more depleted of magnesium, there isn’t as much magnesium as there used to be… even in high magnesium, organic foods.
Plus your magnesium levels can become low due to various health conditions, like
- inflammatory gut problems
- excessive urination or sweating
- pregnancy and lactation
- hyper- and hypoparathyroidism
- excess estrogen
- heavy menstrual bleeding
- too much Calcium supplementation
- vitamin D being too low or too high
- too much phosphorus from soft drinks
- certain medications affecting absorption, such as proton pump inhibitors like Nexium or Prilosec, diuretics, and antibiotics
- low B6 levels
How can you know if you are low? First off, don’t look for a magnesium serum test to tell you how good or how low your levels are. Magnesium doesn’t stick around in the bloodstream for long. So it’s not the best marker.
The best way to check magnesium levels is usually considered to be a different test called the magnesium red blood cell. It’s much more reliable than the more commonly used serum magnesium marker.
You can purchase a magnesium red blood cell test on your own and get it drawn at Quest. Here’s where to get it. Just type Magnesium, RBC in the search field. Magnesium Red Blood Cell Test
So you might not be getting enough magnesium through foods. Or you might not be absorbing enough magnesium due to health conditions.
Either way, you’ll likely want to get your magnesium levels up if they are low.
As we talked about, magnesium has an important role in the body’s ability to stay healthy and to heal.
And it also plays an important role if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance. We’ll cover that next.
Role of Magnesium as a Mast Cell Support – What to Know When You Have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
Magnesium has an important role when it comes to mast cells and histamine.
Magnesium is one of the nutrients needed for the body to make diamine oxidase (DAO). DAO is one of the main enzymes for breaking down histamine in your gut.
In an animal study, researchers found 4 days of low magnesium intake caused histamine to rise quickly. and it kept getting worse. The animals’ histamine levels went super high by day 8.
But when magnesium was added back, histamine levels went back down again.
Magnesium deficiency was also linked in studies to an increase in mast cells in certain organs. Specifically, mast cells went up in the liver, small intestine, kidneys, bone marrow, and kidneys in rats.
In a mouse model of colitis, magnesium-rich mineral water significantly reduced inflammation in the gut. And as you probably know by now, there are huge numbers of mast cells in the gut that can drive gut inflammation when triggered.
You also probably know that toxins can trigger mast cell activation. But a specific type of magnesium can support detoxification. This form is called magnesium sulfate, found in Epsom salts.
So, as you can see, there are a lot of different ways magnesium can support your mast cells and histamine levels.
It’s good to use more than just one form of magnesium though. Let’s look at why in the next section.
Importance of Using Various Forms of Magnesium – What to Know When You Have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
Using a variety of forms of magnesium can be really helpful. That’s because different forms of magnesium are good for different things.
For example, some forms of magnesium are really great for constipation.
One form of magnesium is really great to take in the morning for energy.
Another form is great to take at night for sleep.
So, one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to magnesium.
Another important thing to consider is whether you want to use magnesium orally or topically.
If you have gut problems where you aren’t absorbing magnesium supplements very well, you may want to add a topical version.
Topical magnesium goes directly through the skin and skips the gut. So you might be able to absorb more magnesium using a topical form.
You’ll learn about good topical and oral magnesium supplement options in just a bit.
But first, I want to let you know about a couple of high histamine magnesium forms to avoid.
High Histamine Forms of Magnesium – What to Know When You Have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
There are some high histamine magnesium products. And they may trigger Histamine Intolerance or Mast Cell Activation. So I want to make sure you know about them.
Take a look at this list below for forms of magnesium you may want to avoid if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance.
- Magnesium Citrate – This form of magnesium is frequently used to combat constipation. The problem you may have though is that it comes from fermentation. For that reason, it’s a higher histamine magnesium.
Some people do fine with this in very small amounts, though, as opposed to the large amounts in a normal magnesium citrate product.
- Magnesium products with other mast cell triggers can be another problem – Watch out for mast cell triggering additives and preservatives. These are things like:
- Titanium dioxide in capsules
- Potassium sorbate in liquids
- Sodium benzoate in liquids
- Flavoring agents
- Coloring agents
Other than magnesium citrate and additives, most forms of magnesium should be low histamine as well as mast cell and histamine supportive.
Be sure to check those labels, though!
We’ll cover some great low histamine forms of magnesium to look for next…
Low Histamine Forms of Magnesium – What to Know When You Have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
It’s important you know that this blog post is for informational and educational purposes. It’s not meant to treat any health condition or to be prescriptive for anyone.
Always be sure to work with your healthcare practitioner. I highly recommend trying all new supplements slowly to make sure they are ok for you.
Let’s look at both various oral and topical magnesium options. You’ll learn some uses for each. And you’ll be able to see which have specific pros and cons.
I’ve included links to Fullscript below. This is a great place to get supplements because they are very strict about quality control.
There have been counterfeit and quality issues getting supplements through Amazon for quite some time, so beware. Some supplements were found to be counterfeit and have high levels of heavy metals or other toxins… and none of the actual claimed active ingredients.
Also, if you register an account with one of the Fullscript links below, you get 15% off every order you make, every time.
Plus your orders help support Mast Cell 360 in continuing to put out all the free resources for Mast Cell Activation and Histamine Intolerance on the blog and Facebook!
We definitely appreciate your support!
Ok, so let’s start with forms of magnesium that are taken orally.
The following are low histamine oral forms of magnesium.
Magnesium Glycinate – Magnesium glycinate is generally considered to be a really well absorbed type of magnesium. So, it can be a helpful form if you’re dealing with a leaky gut. It’s also usually calming and helpful as a sleep aid.
However, in some people, the glycine in magnesium glycinate can end up converting to more glutamate. This can be a problem in those with high glutamate. High glutamate can show up as anxiousness, sleep issues, and trouble with attention.
It can be stimulating if that’s the case. So I always recommend you start supplements slowly to see if they work for you.
For a supplement, you can look into this form of Magnesium Glycinate.
Magnesium Oxide – Magnesium Oxide is a good option for stubborn constipation for people who are very sensitive to magnesium supplements. This is because it’s not well absorbed. So, for some sensitive to magnesium this may be the only form that works for them.
The downside, though, is again, that it’s not well absorbed. So it won’t raise magnesium levels in the body. But this is often the starting point I suggest for sensitive people dealing with constipation until they can tolerate better absorbed forms.
Magnesium Malate – Magnesium Malate can be helpful for muscles and energy production.
It’s sometimes not well tolerated early on by people with a lot of mold toxins or viral/bacterial problems, though. So go slowly if that’s something you’re having trouble with.
Integrative Therapeutics Magnesium Malate is a generally better tolerated brand of magnesium malate.
I used to think malic acid was a histamine liberator. But I haven’t found enough evidence, so we’ve taken this off the website for now.
Magnesium Taurate – Magnesium Taurate is another form of magnesium that can help support detoxification. It does this by supporting glutathione levels, a very important antioxidant and detox compound.
Magnesium taurate can also help with bile production. Bile production is important for eliminating toxins and digesting fats.
Magnesium taurate is a form that can be beneficial for heart health, too. This is because the heart is dependent on taurine found in magnesium taurate.
However, this form may not always be well tolerated early on by people who are really sick from mold toxins or chronic bacterial or viral issues.
Magnesium Threonate – This is the only form of magnesium seen to cross the blood brain barrier. For that reason, it’s often a good form for any brain condition.
It can also help with sleep issues and occasional anxiousness. And magnesium threonate usually doesn’t cause loose stools like other forms of magnesium.
This is one brand that I like: Protocol for Life brand of Magnesium Threonate.
Magnesium Chloride – Magnesium Chloride can come in either an oral liquid form or a topical form. Here we’ll look at the oral, liquid form.
In liquid forms, it’s hard to find one without potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate as additives. So be sure to check those labels!
Concentrace Trace Mineral Drops have a good amount of magnesium chloride without the mast cell triggering preservatives.
It has some trace minerals though. That can be problematic for some people. Like with everything else I’ve mentioned here, go very slow if you try it.
Magnesium Orotate – Magnesium Orotate is a well absorbed form. However, it’s not frequently available. It has shown potential to help the heart and energy levels.
Next, let’s look at some forms of topical magnesium.
Topical options most often include:
- Magnesium Chloride
- Magnesium Sulfate
Magnesium Chloride – We already talked about the pros or magnesium chloride. Let’s look at some topical forms.
Topical Magnesium Chloride is great for putting in the bath. It can help to relax muscles and calm down before bed.
You can also get it in lotion or spray form. This can sting a little if your skin is sensitive. But you can dilute it with any moisturizer you tolerate. Be sure to patch test a small amount if you have sensitive skin,
The spray or gel can leave a slight salty film on the skin. It can be washed off after 20 minutes.
Magnesium Sulfate – Epsom salts are actually a form of magnesium called magnesium sulfate. This form supports detoxification and even getting rid of oxalates.
Definitely go slowly with this! Many people start way too high with Epsom salts. You can start with as little as ½ tsp as a foot soak.
Watch out for added fragrances. Those can also be a mast cell trigger. For example, the Whole Foods brand has artificial fragrances.
But here’s something you need to know about Epsom salts. They aren’t right for everyone.
Those who have issues with oxalates may not tolerate higher amounts of Epsom salts.
When I was still really sick, I tried using Epsom salts. I started with a cup in the bath. I thought that amount would be fine. But it was waaaay too much for me.
It caused me massive pain and burning urination. I had so much irritation and moodiness, I actually felt like punching through walls… except I didn’t have the energy. It was kind of scary.
These reactions from Epsom salts all made sense when I finally learned about oxalates and sulfates!
I had too many oxalates in my body and the Epsom salts were pushing them out too fast.
That can be due to the Epsom salts causing stored oxalates to suddenly dump into the bloodstream. My body couldn’t handle that sudden increase in oxalates.
Another problem I had back then was that I had a lot of toxins in my body. Especially mold toxins.
Remember how we talked about how Epsom salts can also help with detoxification?
That can be a really good thing. But if you start with too much, Epsom salts could cause stored toxins to dump into the bloodstream too quickly. Again, that may be too much for your body to process. That’s what happened to me.
I kept failing with Epsom salts and flaring myself up until I figured out these connections. That’s why I want to stress to you to start slowly and gradually build up if you have any of these issues.
I then started back with a teaspoon of Epsom salts in a bath and very slowly increased it over a year.
Not everyone has trouble with Epsom salts, though.
For others, magnesium sulfate is a game changer. Especially for those with salicylate intolerance. We’ll talk more about that later, though.
The great thing is that each form has different uses and benefits. I’ll go over my personal use next. And I’ll offer you some suggestions on where you might start.
What Magnesium to Use? – What to Know When You Have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
After reading about all those amazing magnesium supplements, where do you start? Which magnesium should you use? It’s really all about what you want help with and what your body can tolerate.
If you have constipation and are sensitive to supplements, you could consider starting with Magnesium Oxide. But add it in very slowly.
Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) can be very helpful for salicylate intolerance.
If you’re very sensitive or have a lot of mold toxins, you could start as small as a pinch of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) in a bath.
I personally use multiple forms. For example:
- I use energizing Magnesium Malate in the morning.
- I add the liquid Concentrace Magnesium Chloride to my drinking water. I started with one drop and worked up slowly to adding a few drops to each glass of water throughout the day.
- I use Magnesium Sulfate as an Epsom salt bath in the evening. I like to do that 1 or 2 times a week.
- Then, I’ll end my day with Magnesium Threonate and Magnesium Glycinate at bedtime.
But what if you aren’t tolerating any magnesium at all? What if you’re having trouble with a lot of supplements?
In that case, you’ll want to work on your nervous system first in the Mast Cell Nervous System Reboot.
I hope this post on magnesium has been helpful to you.
If you’re tolerating a couple supplements or looking for further guidance on supplements, you may want to check out the Top 8 Mast Cell Supporting Supplements Master Class.
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References for Low Histamine Magnesium Sources – What to Know When You Have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
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DiNicolantonio, J. J., O’Keefe, J. H., & Wilson, W. (2018). Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis. Open heart, 5(1), e000668. https://doi.org/10.1136/openhrt-2017-000668
Elin, R. J. (1994). Magnesium: The Fifth but Forgotten Electrolyte, American Journal of Clinical Pathology, 102(5), 616–622. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcp/102.5.616
Ishiguro, S., Nishio, A., Miyao, N., Morikawa, Y., Takeno, K., & Yanagiya, I. (1987). Nihon yakurigaku zasshi. Folia pharmacologica Japonica, 90(3), 141–146. https://doi.org/10.1254/fpj.90.141
Kass, L., Rosanoff, A., Tanner, A., Sullivan, K., McAuley, W., & Plesset, M. (2017). Effect of transdermal magnesium cream on serum and urinary magnesium levels in humans: A pilot study. PloS one, 12(4), e0174817. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0174817
Kruger W. D. (2017). Cystathionine β-synthase deficiency: Of mice and men. Molecular genetics and metabolism, 121(3), 199–205. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ymgme.2017.05.011
National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. (2019). Magnesium: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
Nishio, A., Ishiguro, S., & Miyao, N. (1987). Specific change of histamine metabolism in acute magnesium-deficient young rats. Drug-nutrient interactions, 5(2), 89–96.
Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS). (2021, March 22). Office of Dietary Supplements – Magnesium. National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-Consumer/#:%7E:text=Magnesium%20is%20a%20
Ohbori, K., Fujiwara, M., Ohishi, A., Nishida, K., Uozumi, Y., & Nagasawa, K. (2017). Prophylactic Oral Administration of Magnesium Ameliorates Dextran Sulfate Sodium-Induced Colitis in Mice through a Decrease of Colonic Accumulation of P2X7 Receptor-Expressing Mast Cells. Biological & pharmaceutical bulletin, 40(7), 1071–1077. https://doi.org/10.1248/bpb.b17-00143
Schwalfenberg, G. K., & Genuis, S. J. (2017). The Importance of Magnesium in Clinical Healthcare. Scientifica, 2017, 4179326. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/4179326
Takemoto, S., Yamamoto, A., Tomonaga, S., Funaba, M., & Matsui, T. (2013). Magnesium deficiency induces the emergence of mast cells in the liver of rats. Journal of nutritional science and vitaminology, 59(6), 560–563. https://doi.org/10.3177/jnsv.59.560
Tammaro, A., Abruzzese, C., Narcisi, A., Cortesi, G., Persechino, F., Parisella, F. R., & Persechino, S. (2012). Magnesium stearate: an underestimated allergen. Journal of biological regulators and homeostatic agents, 26(4), 783–784.
Workinger, J. L., Doyle, R. P., & Bortz, J. (2018). Challenges in the Diagnosis of Magnesium Status. Nutrients, 10(9), 1202. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10091202