Magnesium sulfate, better known as Epsom salt, is named after a bitter saline spring at Epsom in Surrey, England. Distilled from the water found there, these small colorless crystals have been used since the 1500s to cure a variety of ailments.
The scientific name is MgSO as it consists of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen.
To appreciate the benefits of Epsom salt, you have to understand more about the main ingredient – magnesium. Found in human cells, it helps to regulate the activity of more than 325 enzymes.
According to the Epsom Salt Council, it controls many bodily functions such as muscle control, electrical impulses, energy production, and ridding the body of harmful toxins.
Most of us are magnesium deficient. One hundred years ago, we got it through our diet. However, modern farming has depleted the soil of magnesium, so we don’t get nearly as much as we used to.
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Add to that our diet of sugar, fat, salt, and protein, it’s no wonder we are all magnesium deficient.
Another contributing factor to our magnesium deficiency is the emphasis on consuming high levels of calcium to prevent osteoporosis. Unfortunately, calcium can deplete magnesium and Americans have 5 times more calcium in their bodies than magnesium.
But calcium also needs magnesium to work better. The correct ratio for absorption should be approximately 2 to 1.
So what does all that mean? Magnesium deficiency leads to higher instances of heart disease, osteoporosis, stroke, digestive disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, and even mental illness in some people.
Okay, so just take supplements and be done with it, you might say. Not so fast. Magnesium, when absorbed through the digestive system, interacts with certain foods, drugs, and stomach acid.
In essence, it neutralizes oral supplements. The better way to absorb it is through the skin. This is why experts recommend soaking in Epsom salt.
Here are 10 benefits of Epsom salt baths:
Relieves pain and inflammation
The magnesium in Epsom salt can reduce inflammation, the cause of most pain. By raising the amount of magnesium in the body, C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation in the body, is significantly reduced.
Stress can deplete our bodies of – you guessed it, magnesium – and increase the level of adrenaline. While a little bit of stress and adrenaline can be good for us, too much can be harmful.
Soaking in a warm bath of Epsom salts can increase the level of serotonin, a chemical which produces a sense of relaxation and well-being.
Medicines, herbicides, and pesticides: These are among the over 21,000 toxins we are exposed to on a regular basis. The average American carries over 400 toxic residues in his or her body.
The sulfate in an Epsom salt bath pulls out those toxins through the skin.
Improves Nerve Function
The magnesium sulfate in Epsom salt helps the nervous system regulate electrical signals that are sent out and received. It regulates electrolytes which form electrically charged particles, or ions, in the body.
It is also known to aid in the body’s proper use of calcium, which conducts the electrical impulses in your nervous system.
Good for Your Heart
Epsom salt can improve your circulation and avert serious, life-threatening cardiovascular diseases such as stroke or heart attack by reducing inflammation. It also reduces blood clots and plaque buildup.
Helps Keep Skin Healthy
Soaking in an Epsom salt bath can make your skin softer, especially when you add a little olive oil to the bath. You can also exfoliate dead skin cells by taking a handful of Epsom salt, mixing it with olive oil (or coconut oil) and rubbing over your body. Be sure and rinse thoroughly.
Sometimes we forget to apply sunscreen and end up with painful sunburn. Soaking in a bath of Epsom salt can reduce the inflammation which causes pain and itching. It also helps keep your skin color even.
Eliminates Foot Odor
Mixing a half cup of Epsom salt in warm water and soaking your feet for 10 minutes can help get rid of foot odor. It also soothes achy feet and softens rough skin, especially on the heels.
Temporarily Reduces Bloat
Need to get rid of a little water weight to fit into that dress for the evening? Try an Epsom salt bath. It pulls toxins and water out of your system to temporarily get rid of bloat.
Add ½ cup of Epsom salt to your bath for every 50 pounds of weight.
Improves Bone Health
We’ve heard it for years –calcium, whether through dairy products or vitamin supplements, prevents osteoporosis. But, it’s actually magnesium we need. It works in conjunction with calcium to keep our bones healthy.
For that annoying and painful splinter, dissolve one cup of Epsom salt in a small tub of water and soak the affected area for about 15 to 20 minutes. This draws foreign bodies to the surface, making it easier to remove the splinter with tweezers.
No Bathtub? No Problem!
Not all of us have a bathtub to soak in. Before you start thinking you’re doomed to be magnesium deficient, there is a fairly easy solution. Spray it on! No, that’s not a misprint.
Heat equal parts Epsom salt and water in a pot until the crystals dissolve. When it cools, pour it into a spray bottle. Get into the shower and spray it on your skin.
There is no need to rinse it off. You can use lotion or oil on the skin before or after if you have sensitive skin.
Another alternative for getting magnesium sulfate through the skin is a foot soak (as mentioned above).
The internet is loaded with even more ideas and uses for Epsom salt. Who would have thought something you can get in a drugstore for so little could give so much?
Now, go out there and get you some Epsom salt to reap the health benefits!
Note: As with any other product, check with your physician before use. Certain conditions, such as those involving the kidneys, could be worsened by Epsom salt.
Otherwise, there should be no side effects as long as you don’t use too much or overdo it.