Drought, Dehydration and Stress

“I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.”
(From the poem My Country by Dorothea McKellar – 1908)

Maybe this country can get too sunburnt sometimes.  Extreme or chronic stresses and dehydration-drought-low-magnesiumtraumas are known to deplete the body’s magnesium reserves, leading to deficiency.  When weather heats up in extended drought conditions, such as during El Nino events, the impacts are felt very dramatically in Australia. Both animals and humans suffer great stress in extended drought due to dehydration, magnesium loss and of course – danger of destruction by fires.

Australia is arguably the hottest continent on the planet at the moment, enduring record temperatures and hundreds of fires simultaneously raging all over its landmass during the latter part of 2019.  The fires are a natural progression after a number of seasons of extreme drought, as its grasses and forests have become choked off from vital water nourishment. 

Many farmers have relinquished their farming businesses, whilst others tenaciously hang on by a thread. This crisis affects the whole economy, as the food basket burns to a crisp.

Temperature records indicate that Australia has been moving through an El Nino event.  There is an ebb and flow of climate cycles whereby El Niño (warming and excessive drought) and La Niña (cooling and excessive rain and flooding) oscillate. The current El Nino is a particularly harsh one with extended drought and dehydration because it is accompanied by a Positive Indian Ocean Dipole event.

According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the natural cycle known as the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the central and eastern tropical Pacific loosely operates over timescales from one to eight years.

Potential effects of El Niño on Australia include:

  • Reduced rainfall
  • Warmer temperatures
  • Shift in temperature extremes
  • Increased frost risk
  • Reduced tropical cyclone numbers
  • Later monsoon onset
  • Increased fire danger in southeast Australia
  • Decreased alpine snow depths

The BOM explains further : “As a result of decreased rainfall and increased maximum temperatures, the frequency of high fire danger ratings and risk of a significant fire danger season in southeast Australia are significantly higher following an El Niño year, particularly when combined with a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) event. Some El Niño years have been
followed by very severe summer fires, including Ash Wednesday (16 February 1983) and the 2002–03 and 2006–07 seasons.”

I think 2019 will now also go into the annals of history as a dire bush fire catastrophe for the whole of Australia.  However, as all cycles move and change, we will inevitably move out of drought and into the next part of the wave.  The BOM and other international climate monitors predict that this system should be returning to a neutral position by January 2020.

Mitigation, Water and Land Management

Given thwater-lifeat Australia’s weather history is punctuated with extreme ENSO cycles and Positive Indian Ocean Dipole events, it should be a logical conclusion that more needs to be done to mitigate against such extreme events.  Particular attention and government funding would be well spent in redirecting natural water outflows lost to the ocean, as well as to conserve and recycle what we have.  Land management and water retention strategies such as that promoted by Peter Andrews should be given priority.   Working towards prevention of dehydration of environment, animals and humans is a ‘no brainer’!

Water is a natural right for all and should be treated like the right to breath clean air:  Not, as we have seen in recent reports, treated as a commercial commodity sold to the highest bidder at the expense of the community whose livelihood suffers as a consequence.  Water supply is a matter of national security.  No water = no life.

Recovery From Dehydration and Magnesium Deficiency

Any kind of stress or anxiety will cause loss of magnesium reserves.  This includes heat, physical exertion and dehydration.  When these circumstances come together it is a perfect storm impacting our health.

Wherever there is a lot of electrical activity in the body – like brain and muscles – more water and electrolytes are needed. Dehydration may lead to some adverse results such as decreased muscle endurance and strength – and even increased chances of kidney stones or urinary tract infections.

Athletes and people that perspire excessively may need to add magnesium deficiency athleteextra sodium to their electrolyte mineral mix because food may not be providing sufficient sodium for their extra losses.  Extra sodium is not recommended for those with hypertension, as sodium rends to thicken blood viscosity and therefore pushes blood pressure upwards.

An average daily water consumption over 24 hours for an adult may be 3 litres, a bit less in cold conditions, and a lot more potentially in hot weather conditions or if people perspire a lot.  I have known construction workers out in the hot sun to consume ten litres of water in a day.

Note that dehydrated states can cause feelings of anxiety where we just don’t know the reason for our fear or agitation, but the feeling persists.  Re-hydrating the body with ample water and magnesium can calm down these sensations because magnesium has a dampening effect on adrenaline and cortisol.  When the brain has ample water and magnesium we can think more clearly and make better decisions.  This is especially important during crises because our magnesium reserves can become dangerously low.

Before you go racing out to get a blood test, take note: 99% of magnesium is stored in muscle and bone, with only 1% in blood. Tissue cells that store our magnesium reserves can sacrifice their magnesium to supplement the blood. The body gives priority to magnesium levels in blood. This is why magnesium blood tests are not an accurate indicator of total body magnesium levels, and by the time you show up with below normal blood tests, your tissue magnesium levels can be a lot worse and even life threatening. In the absence of tissue level magnesium tests, deficiency symptoms are the best indicator of magnesium status. Don’t wait until symptoms get extreme before supplementing with magnesium. This is easily the most important mineral to energy and life.

Studies show also that low magnesium on its own is enough to cause anxiety because, like a see-saw, its decline automatically pushes up release of stress hormones – and vice versa.[1]  Note how dry your mouth gets when you have more stress hormones circulating.  Stress activation causes magnesium loss, which has a dehydrating effect.

The presence of ample magnesium also supports better metabolism and energy production because magnesium is essential for mitochondria to produce Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) – our tiny energy powerhouses.  When magnesium drops too low, energy and cell voltage also drop.  This will affect electrical energy supply to brain and heart. 
We can get a ‘foggy brain’ or feel dizzy.  Mental processing slows when hydration and magnesium are low.  It can even cause heart arrhythmia and Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD).  Remember that your heart is the most important muscle in the whole body, having to work 24/7 to pump vital blood supply with oxygen and nutrients.

Athletes or fire fighters in a crises and under huge pressures with physical exertion, lack of sleep (another terrible stress) and dehydration from heat exposures can become prone to muscle weakness, mental fatigue and heart attack.  Their needs for magnesium and water can go up to three times normal in order to recover.

Getting More Out of Your Drinking Water


The best hydration comes from mineral water in the alkaline range (over 7pH).  If you filter your drinking water, that’s good insofar as you are taking out dust or chemicals like fluoride and chlorine that can kill beneficial gut bacteria and cause digestive issues.  However, drinking demineralised water like reverse osmosis, rain water or distilled, tastes empty and it’s hard to drink enough without gagging.  Demineralised water also passes through the digestive system and out more quickly – without necessarily providing full hydration to tissue cells.  This is because tissue cells need to have essential electrolytes present for absorption of water – like magnesium!

To make your own mineral water that mimics a quality natural smagnesium-mineral-waterpring water, tastes great and has a superior hydration capacity, you can add one pinch of Elektra Magnesium Flakes (which are food grade) per one litre of
filtered water.  You will find it has a velvety smooth texture and goes in very easily.  People are able to drink more magnesium mineral water and have it transit through the body a bit more slowly without having to pee every half an hour.  This is because the tissue cells are soaking up more water to flush out more toxins and carry out other metabolic processes. Magnesium mineral water helps to keep us ‘juicy’ on the inside.

The brain also needs a lot of water with electrolytes for its electrical activity.  As soon as you drink magnesium water, some of it goes straight to the brain as a priority and you can feel much better quickly.  It could be that the increasing number of accidents occurring with fire fighters is because they are suffering from exhaustion, dehydration and magnesium deficiency – all coming together and having a compounding effect.

In the Case of High-End Needs

Of course, people under high stress will need a lot more magnesium that can be supplied merely by drinking water. 
This is a very diluted amount – sufficient to make the water more hydrating, as well as being a low enough concentration to make it through the gut wall.  However, extra supplementation is recommended for high-end needs.  This can be supplied more efficiently via transdermal magnesium absorption in the form of Magnesium Oil Spritz (strong), Magnesium Lotion (medium) and Magnesium Cream (mild), compared to oral tablets and powders.

Any combination of these products can be used to achieve desired results. There is no danger of overdose, so you can apply as much as you like until you feel better, more relaxed and recovered.  If skin is dry it is recommended to lubricate
first with Elektra Magnesium Charge Lotion or Elektra Magnesium Cream, which offer great skin barrier protection and antiaging benefits. Use them to massage tight muscles and feel the difference!  It’s so easy to make this a daily regime to stay on top of your magnesium needs.

By Sandy Sanderson © 2020


1.            Fawcett, W.J., E.J. Haxby, and D.A. Male, Magnesium: physiology and pharmacology. BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia, 1999. 83(2): p. 302-320.


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