Epsom Salt Bath Benefits
From a stiff and aching body to relieve stress and stabilize the mind, many people turn to Epsom salt bath soaks to help with their ailments. Here is what you need to know about Epsom salt, including common uses and benefits.
What is Epsom salt?
Though it has the word “salt” in its name, Epsom salt has a different chemical structure than the common table salt we use every day. Its taste is much more distinct and bitter than table salt and not something you would want to use to season your food. It is a naturally occurring mineral compound made up of magnesium, sulfur and oxygen. Epsom salt got its name from where it was originally found – Epsom, England.
What are the benefits of Epsom salt?
When Epsom salt is added to water and dissolves, it breaks down into magnesium and sulfate. Magnesium is an important mineral playing a role in over 300 enzyme reactions in the human body. It serves many functions, including reducing inflammation, helping muscle and nerve function and supporting the immune system. Sulfates can help flush toxins within the body. You can get your daily dose of magnesium through your diet with foods such as vegetables, legumes and whole grains. However, some people turn to supplements, including Epsom salt, to increase their levels of magnesium.
While more studies need to be conducted, the belief is when soaking in an Epsom salt bath, magnesium and sulfate are absorbed into your skin, helping to calm many ailments, including:
- Sore muscles – One of the benefits of magnesium is to reduce inflammation, which helps to relieve pain and tenderness from sore muscles. Many athletes turn to Epsom salt bath soaks for post-workout recovery.
- Pain relief – Epsom salt can help draw toxins from your body to relieve swelling, sprains and bruises.
- Foot care – Epsom salt soaks can be beneficial for those who experience a variety of foot issues. For those experiencing athlete’s foot, Epsom salt can provide relief from pain and help reduce itchiness. These soaks can also help in resolving swelling and discomfort from ingrown toenails.
- Stabilize mood – Some research shows that magnesium can increase serotonin levels within the body. Serotonin is a key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being and happiness.
How to use Epsom salt
The best way to use Epsom salt is to dissolve it into your bath. Mix 2 cups of Epsom salt in your bathtub as it fills with warm water. Once the tub is filled to your desired level, soak your body for at least 15-20 minutes.
Are there any side effects of using Epsom salt?
Generally, Epsom salt is safe to use when dissolved in your bath. However, taking a salt bath is not recommended for people with:
- Open wounds
- Skin infections or conditions
- Skin burns
If you have these conditions, talk to your healthcare provider before starting any routine with Epsom salt.
Should I drink Epsom salt?
While some sites state consuming Epsom salt can act as a laxative to help relieve constipation or “detox” the body, drinking Epsom salt is not recommended. This can cause changes in your bowel movements, leading to diarrhea, and increased levels of diarrhea can cause dehydration. If you are experiencing constipation, talk with your healthcare provider to get to the root cause so you can develop a safe and healthy way to improve your gut health.
Learn more about Dr. Kazumi Yoshinaga.