So this thing is happening, and it aches and fills me with joy and makes me wish for a pause button at the same time. One minute I’m standing in a grocery store aisle nodding my head to a “those were the days” comment – while mentally calculating how much longer I can shop before a toddlerpocalypse, of course – and the next I’m standing behind my daughter as she zooms in to take this photo . . .
. . . for a project she’s working on. And my boys? I’m savoring snuggles with them while trying not to sustain Lego-induced foot trauma. (This is real life after all.)
So yeah, they’re growing up, and with that comes some not so fun territory. I’ve written about natural remedies for growing pains before, but today I wanted to share something that we’ve recently found helpful in addition to those suggestions. It’s a magnesium oil rub with essential oils that support muscle relaxation.
Magnesium – both in supplement form and topically applied – transformed my sleep years ago when I discovered it eliminated my restless leg symptoms. It’s also been very helpful when my littles have achy legs at night.
While there is no agreed upon cause of growing pains, one common theory is that it’s often due to the inability of ligaments and muscles to keep up with rapid bone growth.
As children are growing fairly rapidly, their muscles, tendons, and ligaments are growing as well,” says Jason Homme, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Those body parts “may not be growing at the same pace, which can cause protesting a little bit.” (source)
My children’s pediatrician shares this view, and suggested magnesium as one of the things that may be helpful.This recipe makes a wonderful bedtime rub for achy or restless legs, and it’s incredibly easy to make. Here’s a breakdown of what I used (and why):
There’s a reason magnesium is often called the magic mineral. As I mentioned in this post on science-backed tips for deeper, more restful sleep, it fuels about 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Some of those reactions help to relax achy muscles, mitigate the effects of stress, and calm the mind by supporting the production of the neurotransmitter GABA.
Magnesium deficiency is very common, and unfortunately not all oral magnesium supplements are well-absorbed via the digestive tract. (source 1, source 2) There are some that are, which I’ve covered in this post on magnesium supplements, but another way to improve levels is through dermal (skin) absorption.
One way is through epsom salt or magnesium chloride baths. Another option is magnesium oil– which is not actually an oil but a mixture of magnesium chloride and water that feels oily to the touch. Magnesium oil is well-absorbed and dries without any greasiness. If you do as much laundry as I do, I’m guessing the last thing you want to deal with are oily sheets after the application of an essential oil rub diluted in a carrier oil. (Magnesium oil makes a great deodorant too, but that’s another post.)
A quick note on absorption: Because Vitamin D, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, and a little calcium are essential for magnesium absorption, you’ll want to make sure your little one is getting adequate amounts of those as well. According to Kristen Michaelis’ book, Beautiful Babies, magnesium levels show more improvement when Vitamin D is obtained through sun exposure rather than oral supplements.
Several essential oils are helpful for relaxation, and Plant Therapy (one of the essential oil companies I purchase from) even makes a Growing Pains blend. I’ve already shared with you a list of essential oils that are considered safe for children and general dilution guidelines, however for this recipe Clinical Aromatherapist Lea Harris recommends a higher than normal dilution ratio.
Lea, who is the founder of Using Essential Oils Safely and the Using Essential Oils Safely community on Facebook, suggests a 2% dilution for under 5 (or at least 1%) and then 3-5% for the over age 6 crowd.
In terms of specific essential oils, here are the ones I think are best for this recipe:
- Growing Pains blend
- Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia)
- Sweet marjoram Origanum majorana)
- Black pepper (Piper nigrum)
- Juniper berry (Juniperus communis)
- Copaiba balsam (Copaifera officinalis)
- Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum)
One more thing before we get to the recipe. While growing pains are a normal (though hopefully occasional) part of childhood, there are other possible causes of leg discomfort. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should consult “your child’s doctor if you’re concerned about your child’s leg pain or the pain is:
- Still present in the morning
- Severe enough to interfere with your child’s normal activities
- Located in the joints
- Associated with an injury
- Accompanied by other signs or symptoms, such as swelling, redness, tenderness, fever, limping, rash, loss of appetite, weakness or fatigue” (source)
Coconut Oil and Beeswax
For some people, magnesium oil can cause an itchy or uncomfortable sensation when applied in undiluted form. For that reason, I’ve blended it with coconut oil and beeswax to ensure that it doesn’t irritate sensitive skin.
How To Make Magnesium Body Butter
For this recipe, you will need an immersion blender and a pint-sized (16 ounce) mason jar.
- 1/4 cup magnesium oil (for this recipe I prefer this form of magnesium oil because some people find other forms to be itchy and/or uncomfortable)
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon beeswax pearls
- Optional – Up to 27 drops lavender, sweet marjoram, black pepper, juniper berry, copaiba or helichrysum essential oil, or an essential oil synergy like this Growing Pains blend. (This is a 1% dilution, which is considered appropriate for children age two and up. Click here for my guide to diluting essential oils.)
Place magnesium oil, coconut oil and beeswax pearls in a pan and melt over low heat. Pour mixture into a mason jar and allow to separate (this should take about 30-45 seconds). Place your immersion blender at the very bottom of the jar, then slowly pull it up after about 30 seconds. Starting at the bottom helps to create an emulsion, which is a way of suspending oil in water so that they mix together. If you’re new to this process and want to see it – it’s the exact same technique demonstrated in my video about making lotion.
Once you’ve blended the body butter, add the essential oils and blend again. Set your timer for 7 minutes and blend one more time before transferring the body butter to a small jar for storage.
Massage a small amount into skin. I aim for daily application, although it doesn’t always happen due to busy schedules, etc.
In general when you mix water and oil, you reduce the shelf life of a personal care product. However, in this case the water is mixed with a very high concentration of magnesium, which has natural antimicrobial properties. (source) One well-known example of this is the Dead Sea. (source) I personally try to use mine within 3-4 months, which is pretty easy to do with a batch this size.
Store in a cool, dark cabinet to prevent premature oxidation of the essential oils.
Want more research-backed natural remedies?
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