Epsom salts have been used for generations. There’s a good chance someone in your family has a story or two about their healing benefits. Everyone from doctors to gardeners to aestheticians puts them to good use.
What are Epsom salts?
Epsom salt, also called magnesium sulfate, is a bitter-tasting chemical compound of magnesium, sulfur and oxygen. Named after the town in which it was discovered, people flocked to Epsom to bathe in the mineral-rich waters said to relieve painful gout symptoms and other ailments.
What makes it so special? Both magnesium and sulfates are vital to bodily functions. Magnesium is crucial for both proper calcium distribution and energy production. It also supports muscle, nerve and enzyme function.
The science behind Epsom salts
Research shows that magnesium deficiency is common and can be linked to increased inflammation. This can lead to health issues like heart disease, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. On a smaller scale, it can also be linked to higher levels of pain, stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia.
Sulfur is found in living tissues and can be essential for the body’s biological functions. This includes synthesizing proteins and maintaining healthy skin, tendons and ligaments. It’s also been found to build and repair cells and DNA, protect against muscle soreness and osteoarthritis, detoxify the body, alleviate allergies and more.
Epsom salts are highly water-soluble, so when added to hot water, they break down into ions of magnesium and sulfur that are thought to penetrate the skin and absorb into the body. This makes them perfect for soothing baths, compresses and foot soaks.
Epsom salt benefits
1. Calm inflammation & pain
Epsom salts are anti-inflammatory due to high magnesium content. This makes them beneficial for headaches, sprains, bruises and muscle cramps. Nerve receptors associated with pain are inhibited by magnesium, and neurohormones that send signals to reduce pain are regulated.
2. Relieve stress
Stress can increase adrenalin and decreases magnesium and serotonin. Without serotonin, stress and anxiety run rampant. The ions released into the bath – inhaled and possibly absorbed through the skin – promote physical and mental relaxation.
3. Sleep better
Need sleep? According to Dr. Mao Shing Ni, doctor of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, muscle tension is a big reason people can’t sleep and it’s often because blood pressure is too high. The magnesium in Epsom salts may help improve blood flow and relax muscles and extremities. Magnesium also quiets the nervous system, providing the perfect wind down before bed.
Many believe Epson salts help to detoxify the body due to sulfur and magnesium’s detoxifying properties. Sulfates help remove heavy metals and toxins from the cells. Magnesium helps produce ATP, a molecule responsible for helping the body process and remove toxins.
Epsom salts can also be used as a laxative to relieve constipation and cleanse the intestinal tract. If you plan to take advantage of the laxative benefits, run it by your doctor first to make sure it’s right for you.
5. May boost immunity
Soaking in Epsom salts relaxes muscles and soothes aches, allowing for restorative sleep to help the body fight infection. The heat and minerals in the hot bath increase circulation, helping the body to heal itself.
6. Improve overall health
Magnesium regulates more than 300 enzymes in the body that control multiple biochemical reactions. These positively affect muscle control, nerve functioning, fluid retention, calcium usage, heart health and insulin regulation.
7. Improve skin health
Long used as a skin exfoliator and skin clarifier, Epson salts remove dead skin and excess oil from pores. It helps reduce inflammation and redness, soothes sunburns and insect bites, and leaves skin feeling smooth.
8. Sooth feet
Using Epson salts as a foot soak has numerous benefits as well. This includes neutralizing foot odor, treating fungus and relieving pain and swelling from ingrown toenails.Add Epson salts to your health and beauty routine. Add 2 cups of Epsom salts to a hot bath and allow them to dissolve. Soak for at least 12 minutes to enjoy the benefits of the magnesium and sulfate ions. You can also add them to compresses, foot baths and body washes or even to your home and garden care. If using as part of a personal care routine, look for the USP grade rating (United States Pharmacopeia-approved) signifying it is safe to use.
†These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.