Healing and the ocean

I grew up by the sea and often tell people that the ocean is in my blood. Recently I came across some fascinating old research that made me think that this is true in a far more literal sense than I had ever thought possible.

The research dates back to the early 1900s and was conducted by French biologist and self-taught physician Rene Quinton. In analyzing the composition of human plasma and that of ocean water, and superimposing the two, Quinton observed that they are virtually identical – the only real difference between the two being that ocean water is three times more concentrated than plasma.

Quinton attributed this difference to the fact that, since life originated in the ocean millions of years ago, seawater has become more concentrated. His conclusion was that we all still carry original ocean water in our blood. Human (and animal) plasma, in his view, is a “marine environment.”

To prove his point Quinton carried out a series of experiments that later came to be known as the “dog studies.” Though we are no longer accustomed to studies being performed on dogs, in his day dogs and cats were often used for medical research.

In a series of experiments he drained progressively more blood from dogs, replacing it with seawater diluted to have the same concentration as plasma. In the final experiment all the blood was drained from a dog and, when the poor animal was on the verge of death, an equal amount of seawater was introduced through a vein.

Although the dog experienced a rough couple of months, he recovered fully on his own with no medical treatment of any kind. He was then renamed Sodium, spared further experimentation, and he continued to live at the Quinton clinic until he died of natural causes years later.

If you think this story defies our basic understanding of physiology and that it must have been made up, you are not alone. I thought the same thing when I first read it. After all, even if plasma and seawater are alike, blood is much more than plasma alone and also contains cells and all-important hemoglobin that is key to carrying oxygen to the brain and other organs of the body that keep us alive.

However, aside from the thorough documentation kept at the time and the numerous witness reports, the experiment was also repeated by a team of French physicians in 1969 under modern-day controlled hospital conditions and the outcome was the same. The only explanation I can think of is that some yet-to-be-identified component of seawater must have compensated, at least partially, for the lack of blood components until the body was able to reconstitute them.

Quinton then observed that many illnesses plaguing humanity in his day were associated with a disturbance in the composition of plasma. His view was that this change in the inner “marine environment” of the body was far more likely to be the cause of illness than any bacteria attacking the body from the outside.

Modern medicine has clearly embraced the opposite view that it is bacteria (or viruses, or other pathogens) that cause illness, and that a person who becomes ill just happened to be exposed to a bug by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In Quinton’s day, however, the cause of illness was a topic of heated debate.

Today, a few of us – including myself – still basically agree with Quinton, and hold that illness takes place because an individual’s internal chemistry has become disturbed, whether this happens because of poor diet, toxins or other reasons. Though bacteria and other pathogens clearly play a role, in most cases they only seriously affect people who present an inner environment already favorable for disease.

Given Quinton’s belief that seawater had the right balance of elements to support optimal health, he theorized that by administering it to patients he could help reestablish a balanced internal chemistry that would enable them to regain health.

The rest, as they say, is history. Quinton developed a protocol for harvesting and purifying seawater, and administered it in pure or diluted form to patients either by mouth, injection or enema, and carefully recorded changes in their health keeping detailed progress reports including before and after photographs. Much of this data, including accounts of the dog studies, can be found on this Canadian website: http://www.oceanplasma.org/.

One of Quinton’s biggest claims to fame was to have cured thousands of children with cholera – in that era almost always fatal – with seawater intravenous drips. This is not the same as saline drips that were common at the time (and still are today) that were helpful, but seawater brought about much higher recovery rates.

Aside from cholera, looking at the case histories on the website, it is clear that Quinton treated a broad range of health conditions. Many of the patients he saw were small children with what would be called today failure to thrive, or an inability to gain weight. Other cases include children and adults with eczema, psoriasis, and a variety of digestive disorders from colitis to what is now known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

You may wonder why, if this treatment was so helpful, no one talks about it today. The reality is that medicine increasingly lost interest in natural treatments and opted instead for synthetic drugs that could be patented. This started slowly, but gained momentum after World War I with the development of the chemical industry. At that time Quinton and many other innovative doctors fell out of favor and were labeled as quacks. However, there still are doctors in France carrying out this work, apparently with continued success, as a brief internet search will reveal.

Here at home there are a few companies that still harvest and prepare seawater according to Quinton’s guidelines but with greater concern for purity. One of these is the Canadian company Ocean Plasma – http://www.oceanplasma.org/.

I have personally been taking and recommending their products and I am finding them to be helpful for many, including children. These products have been extensively purified, tested for possible contaminants, and found to be pure. They are high in sodium, which can be a concern in some cases, for instance those with high blood pressure. However, the sodium in this water has a different effect from table salt because it is balanced with a complete range of minerals and trace elements.

Because of their unique mineral balance, these products have significant benefits for the nervous system and electrical functioning of the body, and are key to effective detoxification, aside from more esoteric benefits that may result from the fact that life originated in the ocean.

If ocean water is so healing, concentrating certain components in it could even be better in some cases. As it turns out, there is a concentrated ocean water product that had been used in medicine over the ages, then was forgotten, and just recently was rediscovered.

This product forms spontaneously in the process of making sea salt. As seawater evaporates, sodium – or table salt – dries up, turning into the white grainy substance we all know. At the same time magnesium and other minerals remain wet, forming a type of brine that never evaporates completely and that gets separated out so the salt can fully dry.

Once separated, this brine forms a clear liquid that is much denser than water and feels oily to the touch though it contains no oil. It also contains no sodium, but contains close to 35% magnesium – an extremely high concentration – as well as a full range of trace minerals. This liquid can be seen as a true essence of seawater in that it takes a gallon of water to make just six ounces of the liquid. Because of its consistency and composition it is known as magnesium oil.

Since it is such a highly concentrated product, some have expressed a valid concern that it could be contaminated with mercury or other toxins. It is interesting to note, however, that mercury builds up through the ocean food chain but is not really found in clean seawater. Certificates of analysis I have seen for this product reported a mercury content of less than 0.01 parts per million, the lab’s detection limit. In fact, research has shown that mined magnesium used to make most magnesium supplements sold in stores is far more likely to be contaminated with heavy metals than this ocean-derived product (find a more detailed discussion of this in the book Transdermal Magnesium Therapy by Mark Sircus).

Pain management specialist and medical maverick Norman Shealy, MD, PhD is usually credited with rediscovering magnesium oil and making it available as a supplement. However, according to Dr. Shealy’s own account he first heard of it in the late 90’s from a free-spirited man named Jim Carter. Dr. Shealy calls him a modern-day Ponce de Leon, in homage to the Spanish explorer who searched for the secret of life.

Apparently Jim Carter never completed high school, though he acquired a great deal of uncommon knowledge through his personal reading and research. Among other things, when he came across an 1875 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica he read the entire set of volumes from cover to cover.

In doing so he rediscovered all sorts of forgotten knowledge including the information about magnesium oil and its medical uses. When he told Dr. Shealy about the oil, the health claims he made for it seemed outrageous. Nevertheless Dr. Shealy decided to put it to the test.

Given that this product is used topically and not usually ingested, Dr. Shealy decided to find out first whether the magnesium it contained could even be absorbed through the skin. He recruited a group of volunteers and tested their intracellular magnesium levels (the only reliable measurement of magnesium status).

He then had them mix the oil 50/50 with water, because occasionally it can sting or irritate the skin if used at full strength. He instructed them to spray the mix on their bodies once a day and have a 20-minute footbath in it once a week.

After four weeks he retested their levels and found that 75% of the participants had experienced a significant rise in intracellular magnesium. This is a dramatic result, considering that with the best-absorbed oral form of magnesium it can take one year to finally see a change in intracellular levels – and for some people this never happens.

You may ask what is so special about raising intracellular magnesium. In fact, magnesium is known to be essential to life, meaning that if we had none in our bodies we would die, while lesser deficiencies cause some type of health problem. Compared to other essential nutrients, magnesium has the double distinction of being needed for the greatest number of health functions, and of being the most commonly deficient mineral.

Unfortunately magnesium is very often overlooked, even among experts. No one in America seems to pay much attention to it while everybody wants to make sure they get enough calcium. The reason for this, according to author Mark Sircus, is that there has been no powerful lobby, like the dairy lobby, to promote the need for magnesium.

As hard as this may seem to believe, magnesium is more important than calcium even for bone health. While many of us obsess about getting 1,000 mg or more of calcium per day, only to find out year after year that our bone density levels have dropped, there are countries where osteoporosis is rare or doesn’t exist. In those countries, some of which are in Asia, adults only get 200 to 300 mg of calcium per day, whereas their magnesium intake is much higher than it is in the US (see Transdermal Magnesium Therapy by Mark Sircus).

To get an idea of how common magnesium deficiency is, consider that a recent study by the respected National Academy of Sciences found that roughly 70% of Americans obtain less than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium from their diet. Among children I would bet that number is much closer to 100% given that magnesium is found mostly in whole grains and green vegetables. However, magnesium deficiency is not about intake alone. Stress, alcohol consumption, caffeine, sugar, excessive sweating, and fluoride all cause the body to excrete increased amounts of magnesium and can lead to deficiency even in people who have enough magnesium in their diets.

Conditions that can be helped by restoring normal magnesium levels in the body read like a who’s who of modern-day American ills, including irritability, hyperactivity, depression, anxiety, tics, seizures, migraine headaches, asthma, osteoporosis, diabetes, fatigue, high blood pressure, muscle and joint pain, and more. To get a thorough and organized review of conditions that can be helped by magnesium, read the informative book Transdermal Magnesium Therapy by Mark Sircus. Below I will touch on a few topics of particular interest to me.

Magnesium is essential for integrity and stability of cell membranes and the blood-brain barrier. These are critical factors for function of the brain and nervous system. Thought we think of fish oil, B vitamins and other nutrients in this context, no one seems to remember the most essential of all, and the most likely to be deficient: magnesium.

Magnesium is a regulator of the NMDA receptor. This is a receptor for excitatory neurotransmitters. When everything is in harmony it plays an essential role for healthy function of the brain. However, with exposure to mercury and certain pesticides, this receptor can become over-sensitized leading to disastrous consequences, including destruction of brain circuits. According to biochemist and researcher Martin Pall, PhD malfunction of this receptor is to blame for the development of many modern epidemics, including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Fibromyalgia, as well as Autism and ADHD.

Magnesium oil, when absorbed through the skin, raises DHEA levels in aging individuals. This finding led Dr. Shealy to call magnesium oil the “fountain of youth.” DHEA has been described as the master hormone in the body, and dropping levels of this hormone are tantamount to aging. Because DHEA is used in the body to make sex hormones, magnesium oil alone has been reported to control menopausal symptoms.

Magnesium is a key for the body to make glutathione. Glutathione is a protein made in the body that is essential for detoxification. Although glutathione injections can help in autism and many neurological conditions, they do not induce the body to make its own glutathione and must be repeated regularly, whereas magnesium has been shown to trigger natural glutathione production.

Dr. Shealy also wrote a book on this topic entitled Holy Water, Sacred Oil but it is now out of print. I managed to find and read a copy and it is informative, but it’s actually not the easiest book and can be confusing at times.

Magnesium oil also has a more esoteric aspect. When we use a dipstick designed to test urine and dip it in magnesium oil it always tests positive for blood. Could it be that we are finding the mystery element that kept Sodium – the bloodless dog – alive? No one knows, but it’s a thought. Another thought is that the ocean, where life originated millions of years ago, could be the place where we finally find some answers to our 21st century health crises.

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