Epsom salt is often associated with a relaxing bath, especially after enduring a long work week. Although this is a great way to incorporate Epsom salts into your routine, it’s most certainly not the only way to benefit. Before we dive into the numerous benefits, what is Epsom salt?
Epsom “Salt” – What is it?
Contrary to its name, Epsom salt isn’t actually salt at all. This powerful therapeutic compound is composed of magnesium sulfate, in comparison to sodium chloride – better known as ‘table salt.’ Pure Epsom salt offers home remedies regarding health and beauty, as well as gardening solutions.
Although many have taken advantage of Epsom salt’s varied uses and benefits in more recent years, the use of this compound is nothing new. It was first discovered in the 17th century, when it was extracted from the bitter saline springs located in Epsom, Surrey, England. Since then, Epsom salt has been readily available, as it’s the easiest and safest way to increase sulfate and magnesium levels within the human body.
Why does this matter, why do we need magnesium sulfate?
Well, it’s clear that the human body requires magnesium for a wide range of functions, including the regulation of nerve and muscle function, stable blood sugar levels, bone health, cardiovascular health, and more. Unfortunately, numerous global studies have shown that even in developed countries, magnesium deficiencies are fairly common.
This is largely due to our changing lifestyle choices, as well as reduced essential minerals in farmed soil, and the increased use of prescribed medications. Luckily, along with a more balanced diet, Epsom salt can help target low levels of magnesium, while yielding a number of other impressive benefits.
The Key Benefits of Epsom Salt
Considering Epsom salt has so many possible uses and applications, it yields a wide range of benefits as well. Whether you’d like to enhance magnesium levels or soothe achy muscles, the following four benefits will encourage you to keep this trusty ‘salt’ on-hand at all times.
- Soothes Tired, Achy Feet
For anyone who works on their feet or is physically active, you can relate to sore muscles and achy feet. When you soak your feet in Epsom salts, you’re able to naturally reduce inflammation and ease pain. For added benefits, tea tree oil is the perfect addition, helping target bacteria and fungus.
If you work long hours on your feet, a tea tree oil foot soak is highly recommended. The same is true for achy muscles, as an Epsom salt bath will target anything from migraine headaches to bronchial asthma pain. A study, published in Acta Physiologica Hungarica, found that magnesium sulfate helped reduce lactic acid, the compound that builds in your muscles, resulting in that achy feeling after a workout.
- Increases Magnesium Levels
As mentioned, soaking in Epsom salts can actually increase magnesium levels within the body. Based on research, two cups per 15 gallons of bath water is recommended. Within a study conducted at the University of Birmingham, urine and blood samples were taken before and after participants had an Epsom salt bath. The total time in which these individuals soaked was 12 minutes
What they found, was that 84 percent of the participants experienced increased magnesium concentrations in plasma. While focusing on urine samples, it was believed that Epsom salt crossed the skin’s barrier and was then excreted based on kidney function. Since blood levels of magnesium were optimal, it’s thought that excess levels were eliminated through urination. No adverse effects were reported.
- Removes Splinters with Ease
The days of trying to pull splinters out with tweezers are over. When soaking your hand in Epsom salt, for instance, this compound has the ability to draw foreign items from the body, towards the surface of the skin — this is due to osmotic pressure. It will help draw any infection out that has resulted from the splinter as well. Also, this is a great trick if you get stung by a bee and are concerned that a piece of the stinger is in your skin.
- Natural Beauty Alternative
Epsom salt is a great exfoliator, so why not make your own face or foot scrub? All you need to do is mix 1/2 teaspoon of Epsom salt with your favorite all-natural cleanser or coconut oil. Work it into problematic areas and rinse – this will help to remove dead skin cells.
You can even pump up the volume of your hair by adding Epsom salt to your favorite conditioner. In turn, this combination will reduce excess oils. Since these oils weigh hair down, they leave your hair looking flat. Apply equal parts and wait 20 minutes before rinsing.
The truth is, Epsom salt is a multi-purpose compound that should be a common item within your medicine cabinet. You can even sprinkle some onto your garden, enhancing the soil content, supporting the health of your plants. Tough enough to fight muscle pain, yet gentle enough to use on a sunburn – Epsom salt is one-of-a-kind.
Cinar V., Nizamlioglu M., and Mogulkoc R. (2006). The effect of magnesium supplementation on lactate levels of sportsmen and sedanter. Acta Physiologica Hungarica. 93(2-3), 137-144.
Nuttal S. Report on Absorption of magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) across the skin. University of Birmingham. Retrieved from http://www.Epsomsaltcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/report_on_absorption_of_magnesium_sulfate.pdf
Author bio: Megan is a DIY health & beauty addict. She’s committed to making her itsy-bitsy apartment chemical free. You can find her work at Rocky Mountain Essential where she is responsible for the blog, Instagram and Pinterest.