Author: Serena Amarakoon
What are Epsom Salts?
Epsom salts are small, white crystals used for various purposes of medicinal treatments. They are what the medical field would call an ‘integrative medicine’, which works by treating the patient’s mind and body . Epsom salts are a folk remedy, and have not been through enough clinical trials to be proven effective . Yet, doctors continually encourage their patients to have Epsom salt baths because they tend to show many health benefits, not to mention they are easy, noninvasive, and economical .
How They Work
Epsom salts consist of the chemical compound magnesium sulfate . The magnesium and sulfate chemically break down and soak into the warm water that touches the skin . Taking an Epsom salt bath is also called an Epsom salt detox, because the bath boosts the body’s natural way of fighting toxins, and thus promotes healing . This system works when the sulfate strengthens the walls of the digestive tract, which promotes toxin release. The magnesium salts enhance this toxin release .
To make the Epsom salt bath, run warm (not hot) water in a bathtub, and put 1-2 scoops of Epsom salt into the running water. Soak in the tub for 15 minutes, concentrating on areas you are attempting to heal .
Benefits for Muscles and Joints
A benefit of taking Epsom salt baths is that it relieve sore muscles, stiff joints and swelling . People with chronic inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis or lupus, can benefit from taking Epsom salt baths for their flare-ups . The Epsom salt works when the magnesium and sulfate work together to release toxins that were potentially worsening the inflamed area . Epsom salt baths are also very effective for relieving sore muscles after exercising, as it allows the muscles to relax . Additionally, they can relieve neck, shoulder, back and skull tension. This can aid in migraines and other severe headaches .
Benefits for Stress, Sleep, and Mental Health
The magnesium in the Epsom salts promotes the release of melatonin, a sleep inducing hormone, therefore increasing sleep quality and length . This is extremely useful for people who suffer from insomnia, a condition in which a person finds it challenging to fall or stay asleep during the night . Along with improved sleep, the salt can improve mental health, reduce stress, and stabilize mood . Magnesium can increase the release of serotonin, a natural hormone used to boost mood .
Benefits for the Skin
Epsom salts have beneficial effects on soothing and softening skin from dryness and scaliness . Skin conditions such as psoriasis, which is a condition caused by red, itchy skin, as well as eczema, can be relieved by salt baths . The salts will exfoliate the dead skin cells away so the new layer of skin can thrive . Painful sunburns can be relieved through Epsom baths as well . Similarly, Epsom salts can do a number of different things for foot care. As mentioned before, the magnesium sulfate can help reduce swelling on swollen feet , and reduce odor and itchiness/irritation . Conditions such as athlete’s foot (fungal growth in between toes) and ingrown toenails can both cause pain and irritation, and can be relieved by Epsom soaks . By reducing the itchiness, it helps the foot heal faster .
Although not clinically proven, Epsom salt baths have many clear benefits for the body and health, through relaxing sore muscles, increasing sleep quality, reducing stress, and maintaining proper skin and foot care. They are easy, low priced treatments for chronic and acute conditions and offer relief from pain and stress.
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Medical News Today [Internet]. Brighton (U.K): Red Ventures; 2004. What are the benefits of an epsom salt detox?; 2018 April 26 [cited 2021 Mar 17]. Available: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321627