THE CALCIUM/MAGNESIUM RATIO
by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© August 2012, The Center For Development
The calcium/magnesium ratio on a hair mineral analysis can yield a lot of extremely valuable information. Along with the sodium/potassium ratio, it is the most important ratio on a hair mineral chart. This article is somewhat lengthy because there is so much to say about the calcium/magnesium ratio.
THEMES OF THE CALCIUM/MAGNESIUM RATIO
1. To understand this ratio fully, consider that calcium represents structure, compressive strength, and stability in the body. For example, in excessive quantity it can indicate defensiveness and a defensive or protective stance or posturing. Too much in the hair tissue is called a calcium shell.
As a mineral, calcium is non-metallic, very stable, hard to compress, lacks tensile strength, sluggish, dull-looking, dense and heavy. Think of cement, which is mainly made of calcium compounds. Calcium is the main structural element of the human body and of the primate and other animal bodies.
Calcium is also a buffer element, a damper, and a sedative. It is very alkaline-forming in most compounds.
Magnesium is similar to calcium in some ways, but very different. It represents a bright, shiny, hot-burning quality. Some call it “the lion”, representing controlled power.
Magnesium is a metal, first of all, and it is very light in weight. It is somewhat more acid-forming and it is energizing, as it is needed for thousands of enzymes. It has excellent tensile strength, but not much compressive strength. It is bright and shiny in color and it burns very hot and bright. (In contrast, calcium does not burn at all).
While calcium is more like cement or concrete, magnesium is used in high-tensile-strength fine wires and to make highly flexible, light and strong bicycle frames, for example. Magnesium is also used to start fires, and for flares that must burn brightly and hot.
Structural strength versus enzyme strength. While calcium is not used in many enzymes in the body, magnesium is a component of thousands of enzymes, and unlike some metalo-enzymes, many magnesium-dependent enzymes cannot work using a substitute mineral. In other words, magnesium is essential for thousands of enzymes in the body and may be said to represent enzyme strength, while calcium represents structural strength or bone strength.
Solubility. Dr. Eck loved to point out that magnesium compounds tend to keep calcium in solution in animal bodies and structures. For example, if one becomes low in magnesium, one is more likely to form kidney or gall stones that contain insoluble forms of calcium. In this regard, calcium represents a congealing or cementing quality, while magnesium represents dissolution or flexibility.
Intra- and extracellular. Calcium is found mainly outside of the cells. Magnesium is found in greater quantity inside the cells.
Bowel function. Calcium is constipating, while magnesium is a laxative.
Related to this is that calcium is hydrophobic, while magnesium is hydrophilic. This means that calcium tends to dry out or expels water, while magnesium tends to attract water to itself and will attract water into the intestines, causing diarrhea in some cases.
Glandular interaction. Parathyroid hormone raises calcium, while thyroid hormones lower calcium in the blood and tissues to some extent. Magnesium is controlled to some extent by these glands, but the pituitary also plays a role.
Nerve and muscle fiber relaxation and excitation. Calcium is required for nerve conduction and relaxes the muscles. Magnesium is not so involved in the nerves, as it is in the energy production aspect of a human being. This is rather important, as calcium stabilizes and balances the nervous system, while magnesium upsets it by producing fiery energy.
Yang and yin. The dense, heavy, congealing quality of calcium is much more yang in Chinese medical terms. The light-weight, electrical and fiery expansive quality of magnesium is more yin in Chinese terms.
Foods. The main calcium foods are raw, unpasteurized dairy products, and there is some excellent calcium in raw carrots, some greens, sesame and other seeds and some in nuts and other foods.
Magnesium foods include whole, unprocessed, cooked grains, especially wheat and corn, and there is some in cooked vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.
The carbohydrate ratio. The calcium/magnesium ratio has to do specifically with carbohydrates in the diet, rather than proteins, fats or other components. Carbohydrates are the main fuel food of the body used to generate energy and power.
In contrast, for example, the Na/K ratio has to do with protein, not carbohydrates.
Electrical balance. In electrical terms, calcium represents a compressive pressure or voltage. Magnesium is tensive and more about amperage or intensity. Ohm’s law and Joule’s law apply here. For example, Joule’s law states that voltage multiplied by amps = power or watts.
Believe it or not, this is related to this mineral ratio. When the ratio becomes imbalanced, energy production or electrical output suffers.
Balances. Thus the Ca/Mg ratio has to do with various types of balances in the body.
The calcium/magnesium ratio is the lifestyle ratio. This means it is associated with the diet, attitudes, and lifestyle factors such as one’s relationships, location, occupation, friends and perhaps other lifestyle factors.
These are all outer or surface aspects of a human being. In contrast, the Na/K ratio has to do with more internal matters.
The father/mother ratio. Calcium represents the more yang, father energy. Magnesium represents a more maternal, yin energy. This is another more esoteric understanding of the Ca/Mg ratio, though it can be used in interpreting hair mineral analyses.
Both the Ca/Mg and the Na/K ratios have to do with the hearts concept. This is a more advanced nuritional balancing and acupuncture concept explained in a separate article entitled The Triple Heart Concept and the Heart Protector Concept.
Pretense. Dr. Eck felt that the emotion or mental state associated with an out of balance Ca/Mg ratio is pretense or pretending. In other words, a person is not living outwardly in full integrity or unity with who he or she really is. For example, he or she is not eating the right food, or not doing the right job, or not living with the right people. Often one thinks one is different than who one really is. An elevated ratio often indicates false beliefs or improper attitudes, for example.
calcium and magnesium can be in bioavailable forms,
or they can become less bioavailable. This is another more advanced topic not
discussed in depth in this article, but it is discussed in the article on this
website entitled calcium.
Similarities between calcium and magnesium. Both are divalent cations, both form hard compounds, and both have a mainly calming effect on the body, although magnesium is needed for energy production, as well.
Both elements are used to counter the effects of sodium and potassium, which are excitatory, monovalent elements, and both of which are powerful solvents in the body.
Both calcium and magnesium are deficient in most diets today, and this is due to food refining in many cases. The refining of grains removes some of their magnesium, and pasteurizing dairy products reduces the bioavailability of calcium in these products.
This is in contrast to sodium and potassium, which are too high in many people’s diets due to overeating on salt, and high potassium in many foods, especially fruit, due to the use of superphosphate or N-P-K fertilizers. The form of potassium found in fruit today is not a good one.
These descriptions may seem esoteric or vague, but they can point the way to understanding the calcium/magnesium ratio very deeply. They can also help one appreciate the holographic nature of a hair mineral test. That is, the same item, the Ca/Mg ratio, tells one about physical, mental, emotional and other aspects of a person all at once.
Dr. Paul Eck was aware of many of these aspects, and used them to help him learn about this important ratio.
THE IDEAL AND GOOD RANGES FOR THIS RATIO
Dr. Eck felt that a healthful range for this ratio is about 3.3 to 10 in a hair sample that has not been washed at the laboratory.
Overall, I have confirmed this over a number of years of testing hair samples. However, I prefer to use a slightly tighter ideal range of about 4 to 9.5. In fact, I prefer that the ratio be in even a tighter range of about 5 to 8 for optimum health.
Washing hair at the laboratory. Washing the hair at the lab, as almost all laboratories do, will render the calcium and magnesium readings less accurate. For this reason, I only recommend Analytical Research Labs for hair testing. Trace Elements, Inc. does not wash the hair. However, they are not as careful, in my experience, their graph is hard to read, and their corrective programs are terrible.
A SUGAR AND CARBOHYDRATE TOLERANCE RATIO
Dr. Eck called the calcium/magnesium ratio the sugar and carbohydrate tolerance ratio because a high ratio, he felt, indicated that a person was eating excessive carbohydrates in the diet. These foods are most all fruits, juices, sweets, starches, grains, dried beans and a few vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams. Milk is also a very sweet food.
Overeating on these “fuel” foods can imbalance the delicate ratio between body structure and body movement or solubility. In most people, overeating on carbohydrates involves eating white flour and refined sugar, both of which have had most of their magnesium stripped away. Perhaps this could contribute to the imbalanced ratio as well.
An important note about this diet-related ratio. One person may “tolerate” many more carbohydrates than another. Thus, the calcium/magnesium ratio is not a measure of the exact quantity of carbohydrates in the diet. That which is too much for one person may be perfectly fine for another person whose carbohydrate tolerance is higher due to better health or other factors.
A diabetic trend. Dr. Eck also felt that when the ratio is greater than about 12:1 or less than about 3:1, a person has a diabetic trend. This may be true, but I have not been able to confirm this connection, as yet.
When Dr. Eck spoke of diabetes, I believe he simply meant a further derangement of carbohydrate metabolism. He did not mean a high fasting serum glucose, for example.
I have not been able to confirm this connection, as yet.
Spiritual defensiveness. I have found that when the ratio is above about 13.5, a person’s health is impaired due to holding on to an attitude or lifestyle factor that one needs to let go of. This is discussed below in more detail and in a separate article on this site.
A DEFENSIVENESS OR PROTECTIVENESS RATIO
A high calcium/magnesium ratio, in general, is associated with a more protective or defensive posturing. In contrast, a low ratio is associated with a more open or receptive nature or posturing.
With a high ratio, calcium, the cement-like mineral, is more dominant. This is associated with a kind of defensiveness. When the ratio is low, the opposite can be true, and a person often demonstrates less defensiveness.
COMBINATION PATTERNS INVOLVING THE CALCIUM/MAGNESIUM RATIO
The defensiveness concept is seen clearly in the bowl and the hill patterns, which involve the calcium/magnesium ratio.
Bowl pattern. The bowl pattern involves a high calcium/magnesium ratio combined with a low sodium/potassium ratio. Its meaning is that a person feels stuck or immobile, like being caught in a sink or bowl without a way out. The person may be defending a bad situation. In acupuncture, it is a deficiency of blood or yin. Read The Bowl Pattern for more on this sad and interesting pattern.
Hill pattern. The hill pattern is the opposite. It involves a low calcium/magnesium ratio combined with an elevated sodium/potassium ratio. It is a celebration, excitement and “moving on” pattern. In Tibetan, it is called a joy pattern. It indicates a certain openness and willingness to move on in life. It may indicate a celebration due to having “turned a corner”, or having “moved on”, or climbing to the top of a hill so that the way ahead is smoother sailing. Read The Hill Pattern for more about this happy pattern.
Double low ratio pattern. Another less defensive pattern is called double low ratio. It consists of a low sodium/potassium ratio and a low calcium/magnesium ratio at the same time. It is also called double give up pattern, as it is associated with extreme chronic stress, giving up and death if it not changed soon.
This is a more catabolic pattern associated with serious diseases.
Step up pattern. This is a variant on the double low ratio pattern. It consists of the latter, along with a fast oxidation rate and a visual pattern that looks like steps going upward from the left to the right.
It is also a death pattern, but a quick death pattern. It is a kind of recklessness, stubbornness and belligerent quality that is going in the wrong direction and leads to heart attacks and strokes quickly in most cases, unless it is reversed.
Double high ratio pattern. This is a more defensive and aggressive posturing. It consists of a high sodium/potassium ratio and a high calcium/magnesium ratio at the same time. It is associated with double anger, double acute stress and double inflammation in the body and mind.
It is a more anabolic or fight-or-flight pattern.
Step down pattern. This interesting hair analysis pattern is a variant of the double high ratio pattern. The latter is coupled with a slow oxidation rate and a visual pattern that looks like steps moving downward from the left to the right on a properly calibrated hair mineral graph such as that used by Analytical Research Laboratories only, at the time.
With its high Ca/Mg ratio, it is also a defensive, determined, focused, measured, digging-in-of-the-heels pattern that is considered very positive, even though the person’s energy level may be quite low. It also generally indicates a movement of a new beginning that in Tibetan is called “stepping into life”.
FURTHER DISCUSSION OF SPIRITUAL DEFENSIVENESS
I have found that when the calcium/magnesium ratio is above about 13.5, especially on an initial hair mineral analysis when the hair is not washed at the laboratory, it has a specific and interesting meaning. It appears to indicate that either a lifestyle factor such as a job or relationship or location, for example, is getting in the way of one’s health and needs to be changed. It may also indicate an attitude that needs to be shifted in order to improve health.
An important aspect of this is that a person is often consciously or unconsciously defending the lifestyle factor or attitude that is holding the person back. This defensiveness is the real problem, as the situation or attitude usually no longer applies or no longer makes sense for the person. In this regard, the pattern may be described as one of “holding on after the need is over”. This can also be phrased as “a need to let go of something or someone”.
The pattern is called spiritual defensiveness simply to refer to lifestyle and attitudes, rather than a biochemical, dietary or nutritional type of holding on. In rare cases, the diet with excessive carbohydrates is a factor in a very high calcium/magnesium ratio, but not too often, in our experience so far.
So, in this regard, the calcium/magnesium ratio may be called a lifestyle ratio, especially if we include diet as a factor in the lifestyle. By this I mean that the calcium/magnesium ratio appears to have more to do with external events or circumstances in a person’s life, whereas the sodium/potassium ratio, by contrast, seems to have more to do with internal biochemical imbalances. This is a generalization, but it often appears to be the case.
A possible reason for this is that calcium and magnesium are more structural elements, particularly calcium. In contrast, sodium and potassium are the body’s internal regulators. They are more responsible for the biochemical balance, for example, than are calcium and magnesium. I know this is vague, but as we search for the meaning of various ratios and levels in the tissues, these simple understandings actually take on great meaning.
Another possible explanation is that calcium and magnesium indicate more about cellular situations, while sodium and potassium may have more to do with the cell membrane potential, something that is slightly different.
Movement or karmic aspects. A calcium/magnesium ratio above about 13.5 without an elevated sodium/potassium ratio signifies a need to move on in one’s life. This is what is called a movement aspect of this pattern. Interestingly, hair mineral patterns can often help a practitioner identify either a movement direction that is occurring or that needs to occur to clear the pattern. This is the subject of a separate article entitled Movement Patterns.
This is most evident, perhaps, in the bowl pattern and the step down pattern. Both involve a high calcium/magnesium ratio so they may tell us more about this ratio:
The bowl pattern often indicates a person is defending his frustration and hostility, and thus feeling very stuck. One might say that the defensiveness of the high calcium/magnesium ratio is compounded by a low sodium/potassium ratio, which reinforces a type of stuck pattern.
On contrast, the step down pattern often indicates a person who is exhausted but is feeling a need to move on, and is doing so. In the case of step down pattern, the protectiveness and defensiveness of the high calcium/magnesium ratio is being used to good advantage to “cover” or protect the person in his or her effort to move on in life. Although one may be defensive, the high sodium/potassium ratio indicates an ability, both physically and perhaps emotionally, to move forward in life and experience some acute stress to do this.
Living a lie. This may be a description of the meaning of a calcium/magnesium ratio greater than about 40. This needs more research.
Lifestyle and a low calcium/magnesium ratio. When the ratio is less than about 3 or so, it may indicate a lack of defensiveness or a high degree of openness. This is occasionally a good thing, as when a person has a hill pattern. However, most of the time it is not healthful. It may indicate a type of “giving up” pattern, somewhat similar to a low sodium/potassium ratio. In the case of a step up pattern, it may even indicate recklessness and a desire to harm oneself in some way. The step up pattern and the hill both involve a low calcium/magnesium ratio, so they can teach us more about this ratio.
A VERY HIGH and VERY LOW CALCIUM/MAGNESIUM RATIO
When the calcium/magnesium ratio is above about 35 to 40, or below about 1.5 to 2, it may have a different meaning, at least to some degree. It often indicates poorer health and a less stable structure or life force, perhaps. This is because the balance of calcium and magnesium in the body is very critical and when it is extremely unbalanced, it is not healthy, just as is the case with the sodium/potassium ratio and other ratios as well.
It may indicate a need to hold on more to oneself and one’s values and attitudes.
An extremely low calcium/magnesium ratio (less than 1.5 to 2) also needs more study. It is seen in some cases of magnesium loss or biounavailable magnesium, both of which are not healthful. It may be related to lowered calcium levels. Recall that calcium represents structure, protection and life, in general.
It is not due to low calcium in the diet, as far as I can tell. While hair mineral levels correlate well with the diet in animals, the mineral levels tend to correlate much more poorly in human beings with the mineral intake in the diet.
An extremely high calcium/magnesium ratio (above 35-45) has not been studied as much, but is the same as other spiritual defensive patterns and just more severe.
QUANTIFYING THE CALCIUM/MAGNESIUM RATIO
Another more advanced nutritional balancing concept is that all of the levels and ratios can be quantified for more exact interpretation. We do this less with the calcium/magnesium ratio at this time. This interesting topic is addressed in more detail in the article entitled Quantifying The Patterns.