By Carolyn Dean, MD ND
Do you suffer from a heart arrhythmia?
You’re not alone. Millions of people in the U.S., and the world, are experiencing some type of arrhythmia.
Heart arrhythmia can be a frightening and frustrating condition. The palpitations, chest discomfort, dizziness, lightheadedness, faintness, anxiety, and shortness of breath can make you feel like you are going to die. The thought of invasive surgical procedures like catheter ablation only adds to the fear and stress, which can make the situation even worse.
The way doctors can bounce you through a maze of different treatments without ever solving the problem can make you feel hopeless. It doesn’t help when they insist there is no cure and you should “just learn to live with it”.
Yet, follow that advice and, at best, you’ll live a life on the sidelines, always avoiding an ever-growing list of possible triggers rather than living your life to the fullest.
Many arrhythmias can be very dangerous and contribute to approximately 500,000 deaths in the US each year – but not all those deaths are due to arrhythmia itself but to the combination of medications used to treat it. Of all the arrhythmias, Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) is set to reach epidemic proportions.
An estimated 2.7–6.1 million people in the United States have AFib, making it the most common medically-significant arrhythmia. It occurs more often in people age 60 and older, and while it's not generally fatal, it may lead to further problems – including over-medication.
Magnesium deficiency, which is widespread, is central to creating conditions in the heart that cause AFib. Doctors don’t even pause to think that their drugs can be causing more magnesium and mineral deficiency and worsening of symptoms. They give AFib patients no natural or alternative options; they immediately prescribe several medications and recommend cardioversion or catheter ablation of the AFib site in the heart.
Fortunately, there are other options.
This article is for anyone looking for natural, mineral and dietary alternatives to overcome their arrhythmia. While the focus will be on AFib, the information and recommendations also apply to other forms of arrhythmia.
Types of Heart Arrhythmia
| Atrial arrhythmias:
- Sinus tachycardia,
- Sick sinus syndrome,
- Atrial flutter
- Sinus arrhythmia
- Premature supraventricular or atrial contractions (PACs)
- Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT)
- Paroxysmal atrial tachycardia (PAT)
- Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome
- Ventricular tachycardia
- Ventricular fibrillation
- Premature ventricular complexes (PVCs)
Why people end up seeking alternative solutions to AFib
Doctors believe that most cases of AFib are secondary to heart disease so the standard treatment is to preventively medicate those symptoms to try and alter the course of AFib.
At one time doctors described 2 types of AFib – Adrenal Simulation [adrenaline surging] and Vagus Nerve Relaxation [relaxation slump]. But, doctors no longer discuss these causes of AFib because there are no specific drugs indicated for these conditions. This leaves patients even more anxious because nobody can tell them what’s actually going on with their heart when they have these roller coaster AFib symptoms.
Here’s what one client said about her brush with modern medicine:
I saw a doctor from hell who diagnosed me with having Atrial Fibrillation. He told me outright that the bad news was that I would be on blood thinners for life. I told him, no, that if I had AFib I would opt for the catheter ablation procedure that would be my best chance for a cure.
He screamed at me that there is NO CURE for AFib. By the time I got out of there I thought I was going to stroke out in the parking lot. Then, to top it all off, he only spent 10 minutes with me and billed my insurance $600.00. I never went back but after that appointment my symptoms were much worse. I was scared.
I did a lot of research and found another cardiologist. He looked at the EKGs and said I had been misdiagnosed. I had no signs of AFib. Instead I have relatively benign PACs (premature atrial contractions). But even he said I would develop AFib down the road. I had a consult with one of the best electrophysiologists in the country and he also said I don’t have AFib or anything serious, yet!
From the time an AFib diagnosis happens, the doctors start moving down a road familiar to them, while you and your spouse are sitting in the exam or hospital rooms in completely uncharted territory wondering what happened, why, and what's in your future.
A 5-minute consultation with a cardiologist can be very little help in answering your questions and give you next to nothing concrete to pursue a better quality of life with AFib.
Then, you find yourself lost and scouring the internet for information on what is happening to you.
Magnesium is your best bet
Most often when you consult Dr. Google magnesium comes up. Magnesium deficiency is very common in people with heart disease. In hospitals where doctors understand the importance of magnesium, it is administered for acute myocardial infarction and cardiac arrhythmia. Like any other muscle, the heart requires magnesium. Magnesium is also used to treat angina, or chest pain.
After all, magnesium relaxes the heart muscle cells.
Most people who follow my blogs know how magnesium fits. Too much calcium and not enough magnesium can rewire the heart and cause erratic firing. And, the structure of the heart can be affected by calcification of arteries in the face of magnesium deficiency.
One journal article indicating the calcium connect said “magnesium stimulates renin release through the elevation of prostaglandins and suppresses aldosterone production through the intracellular calcium mobilization.” Another stated that there is a “salutary effect for magnesium supplementation in the treatment of Angiotensin II-induced myocardial complications.”
So, medical researchers admit that magnesium can be an answer to the rennin-angiotensin problem. Yet, doctors wouldn’t think of actually using magnesium. They blatantly ignore the obvious and continue to try and suppress symptoms with ACE inhibitor drugs that cause even more magnesium deficiency, which they treat with more drugs.
I wrote one blog about the “Atrial Fibrillation Assembly Line” in which I talk about the epidemic of magnesium deficiency matching the epidemic of heart disease. As I’ve said before, the heart has the highest amount of magnesium in the body. If the heart muscles are lacking in magnesium, they can go into spasm causing pain or heart rhythm disturbances. You may not even feel any symptoms but on a routine physical with an EKG your doctor may say – “Oh, you have atrial fibrillation – take this medication”, as we saw in the client’s testimonial above.
Since doctors do not look closely at the role that magnesium plays in AFib, they miss the opportunity to give their patients a treatment that can help electrical disharmony of the heart.
How to tell if you’re Magnesium deficient
I recommend the Magnesium RBC test because it’s inexpensive and can be ordered without a doctor’s prescription. But I have to caution people constantly not to regard their Magnesium RBC results as the only way to follow their magnesium levels since the test is not as accurate as the Ionized Magnesium Test. Use it as a useful and inexpensive guide to watch your levels increase over time. How to get an RBC test is outlined in the e-book: Atrial Fibrillation: ReMineralize Your Heart.
If you’re not up for taking an RBC test or can’t wait, the e-book lists 100 factors that indicate magnesium deficiency, including:
- Bowel problems
- Certain food cravings
- Chronic Fatigue
- High Blood Pressure
- Cold Extremities
- Concentration difficulties
Treating AFib with Magnesium
Regarding the use of magnesium, it’s obvious that I would like to see everyone who suffers from atrial fibrillation become saturated with the mostly highly absorbed form of magnesium, which is ReMag®, before resorting to medical intervention. In fact, you may find that ReMag® is just what the doctor ordered. Of course, some people will require medication, cardioversion or catheter ablation, but why not try something safe and natural first – not last.
I repeat - the reason doctors do not offer the option of magnesium is because they didn’t learn about it in medical school. But you should not have to suffer because of their ignorance. Most people are already on medications and have often had cardioversion and ablation before they find magnesium – and then it’s another long journey before they discover ReMag®, which is the best therapeutic and only non-laxative form available.
Not all Magnesium is created equal
Most forms of magnesium are poorly absorbed, and simply get eliminated in the bathroom.
It’s rare for a doctor to recommend a magnesium supplement, but if they do, it’s usually magnesium oxide, a form that’s only 4% absorbed and that causes an overwhelming laxative effect. Diarrhea can flush out more magnesium further upsetting the electrolyte balance. Doctors focus on magnesium oxide because it’s the form that has been used in the majority of magnesium studies because it’s so inexpensive.
Another magnesium product recommended by doctors is Slow-Mag. The list of ingredients will make you question why anyone would take it. The company advertises that they use magnesium chloride and not the lesser absorbed magnesium oxide but then they put double the amount of calcium compared with magnesium in the formula, which would certainly dissuade me from taking it because calcium can block magnesium absorption.
ReMag® is the perfect therapeutic magnesium. It’s an oral, liquid magnesium that is 100% absorbed at the cellular level. I call it picometer magnesium because the magnesium ions are picometer in size and stabilized (so they don’t bind with anything else). This stabilizing technology is a proprietary process allowing the individual magnesium to slip easily into cells through picometer-sized mineral ion channels.
Such unprecedented concentration and absorption allows you to reach therapeutic levels of magnesium without any laxative effects. Thus the true miracle of magnesium can be realized when the body is saturated with magnesium and able to properly carry on its 700-800 biochemical functions. I go into detail about the effects of different forms of magnesium in the ReMineralize Your Heart e-book.
What else supports Magnesium in AFib treatment?
Minerals, especially magnesium, sea salt in water, proper hydration and taurine (amino acid) are the main components of my protocol.
ReMyte®: Dr. Dean’s Pico-Ionized Minerals™ in liquid form provides 12 minerals that should be taken in balance with magnesium.
Water with Sea salt or Himalayan salt: Guidelines: Drink 1/2 your body weight (in pounds) in ounces of water. Add ¼ - ½ tsp Sea Salt or Himalayan salt to every quart of drinking water – to one of those bottles add ReMag® and ReMyte®.
ReAline®: a capsule containing methylated B vitamins, l-taurine and dl-methionine. Taurine helps stabilize cell membranes, which helps to keep magnesium and potassium inside the cells where they belong and the excitatory electrolytes calcium and sodium outside.
RnA Drops: a product made from barley seeds that has the most unique properties that I’ve ever come across in almost 50 years of studying natural medicine.
My Completement Formulas are the main focus of treatment for AFib however, the treatment of AFib goes beyond the physical magnesium deficiency and the physical damage to the electrical conduction pathways in the heart. It is also important to address the fear and hopelessness that you may feel in the face of a condition that your doctors keep saying is incurable. Yet it keeps you so sick and terrified you end up being rushed to the ER over and over. My AFib ebook [link] features a detailed protocol including my Completement Formulas, Bach flower remedies, and affirmations for Breaking The Links With Illness And Grief, Diet guidelines, the Transition diet, sample AFib menus, and the stories of people who successfully overcame their own heart arrhythmias.
What depletes magnesium?
Calcium, for one. A high dairy diet and eating calcium-fortified food and drink (orange juice) can overwhelm your magnesium stores and lead to a relative magnesium deficiency state. When you lower your calcium intake you may find your AFib attacks diminish.
We’re living in a calcified world. Magnesium controls electrical cell-to-cell communication allowing the correct amount of calcium to enter a cell to create cell contraction. This may be one of the hardest tasks set for magnesium because the level of calcium outside our cells can be tens of thousands of times the safe level allowed inside the cell. Magnesium’s job is made even more difficult because, as I mentioned above, so many people take extra calcium in supplement form and ingest it in dozens of fortified foods and drinks. They don’t realize they need equal amounts of magnesium in the body to bring calcium into proper balance
Besides calcium, stress, heart medication, diuretics, and sugar, as well as carbonated, caffeinated, and alcoholic drinks can also play a part in depleting your magnesium levels.
How much should I take?
How much magnesium to take depends on multiple factors, including the form of magnesium you take, your body’s ability to absorb magnesium, your current level of saturation, and your Magnesium Burn Rate.
Up till now, many people haven’t known how much magnesium to take and when they get diarrhea they immediately stop their magnesium and don’t know how to proceed. They either think they are saturated and don’t need more or that they are having a bad reaction nto magnesium. Cardiologists, to this day, prescribe magnesium oxide, which is only 4% absorbed causing worsening magnesium deficiency as the diarrhea progresses. Again, my protocol for remineralizing the heart with magnesium is outlined in detail in the AFib ebook [link].
Gauging your Magnesium Burn Rate is a brilliant concept because we are burning off magnesium with all types of stress and don’t even realize it. So being aware of your burn rate gives you an idea of how much magnesium you are using and how much you need to replace. This is much more important than just taking the RDA for magnesium. Just as a reminder, here is a list of stressors as outlined by my friend, Dr. Elson Hass.
1. Physical: intense exertion, manual labor, lack of sleep, travel
2. Chemical: drugs, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and environmental pollutants such as cleaning chemicals or pesticides
3. Mental: perfectionism, worry, anxiety, long work hours
4. Emotional: anger, guilt, loneliness, sadness, fear
5. Nutritional: food allergies, vitamin and mineral deficiency
6. Traumatic: injuries or burns, surgery, illness, infections, extreme temperatures
7. Psycho-spiritual: troubled relationships, financial or career pressures, challenges with life goals, spiritual alignment, happiness
Pico-Ionic ReMag® is a much higher concentration and potency at 60,000 ppm compared to 3,000 ppm in the angstrom form. ReMag comes in 8oz. bottles at an average daily dosage of 300 mg per 1 tsp = 5 ml.
300 mg a day may seem like a low dose, but, since it’s 100 per cent absorbed at the cellular level, 300 mg may be all you require. Personally, I used to take 1 tsp three times a day to manage my heart palpitations and leg cramps. But after about 18 months I only needed 1 tsp a day. If I take less, I know right away that I’m not taking enough!
My entire protocol is outlined in “AFib: Remineralize Your Heart”
On every page of the book I discuss how magnesium deficiency is associated with all the so-called causes of AFib such as: high blood pressure, heart attacks, coronary artery disease, and exposure to stimulants like drugs, caffeine, tobacco and alcohol. So, it’s not enough to give these “causes” of AFib without acknowledging that all these causes are really just more manifestations of increasing magnesium deficiency!
Dr. Carolyn Dean MD, ND
Dr. Carolyn Dean is the author of the bestselling book “The Magnesium Miracle”. She received “The Arrhythmia Alliance Outstanding Medical Contribution to Cardiac Rhythm Management Services Award 2012” from the Heart Rhythm Society. You can read Dr. Dean’s 125 page CV on her website, DrCarolynDean.com.