Epsom Salt Baths – do they work? Is there any science behind them?
Over the past year I’ve made it a goal to soak in an epsom salt bath at least once per week. It’s a time for me to escape from child-rearing and household chores for a few minutes, (OK who are we kidding, like an hour) and to rest and relax while watching my latest TV drama (I’m a sucker for Masterpiece theater). I add 2 cups of epsom salt into the hot water and usually a few drops of lavender essential oil for a calming sensation. After a good soak, I feel relaxed and ready to head straight to bed.
My husband recently jumped on the bandwagon as he’s suffering with intensely sore muscles after starting CrossFit. You can find him in the tub up to 3 times a week with peppermint or other essential oils added for that extra relief from the soreness. He has become a believer and some nights there is an intense negotiation about who gets the bath tub!
What is Epsom Salt?
Epsom salt is not a salt for food, but a mineral compound called magnesium sulfate that was first discovered at a salt spring in the town of Epsom, just south of London. The salt was purified from the water and has been used for the last several centuries for numerous therapeutic benefits from relieving headache to curing constipation.
You can purchase epsom salt at most general merchandise stores and it is very inexpensive. We will often use the Publix brand, 4lb bag, and it is only around $3. There are other options like Dr Teal‘s that include lavender or other ingredients.
Benefits of Epsom Salt
It is not a stretch of the imagination that a nice hot bath can reduce stress after a rough day. Adding epsom salt to these baths can amplify the benefits. Many people insist it reduces toxic load in the body by aiding the liver in the process of detoxification. This is thought to be done by the sulfur component of the compound that bind the toxins for expiration.
Epsom salt baths have also been known to relieve various types of pain, anything from muscle aches and strains to fibromyalgia. Some believe it helps tissues heal faster from ligament injury and tendon sprains.
Soaking in a tub of warm epsom salt water allows us to absorb magnesium, an element our bodies are usually deficient in. Why are we deficient? Many people believe it’s due to soil depletion from lack of crop rotation and allowing the ground to rest. Also, most of our diets are sufficiently lacking in nutritious food with so much processing in the standard American diet.
Magnesium performs numerous functions in the body including regulation of over 325 enzymes, as well as being involved in muscle control along with sending electrical impulses throughout the body. In medicine, it’s used in the treatment of conditions such as asthma and preeclampsia. Definitely an important mineral for the optimal functioning of our bodies.
Do Epsom Salt Baths Work?
It has never been scientifically proven that epsom salt baths provide the beneficial properties that I’ve mentioned above. This is probably because research is usually performed in connection with a specific drug, if drug companies aren’t involved then there isn’t the money to spend on the research. There is one study performed by a woman in England who showed that magnesium is in fact absorbed through the skin during an Epsom salt bath, which had been questioned by many for several years.
So can I prove that epsom salt bath relieves insomnia? No, not necessarily – whether it’s the stress relieving warm bath, the lavender essential oils, or the Epsom salt, I’m not sure, but I know I sleep like a baby afterwards.
Does it relieve muscle aches and pains? It does sufficiently enough to get my husband back in the bathtub night after night to relieve sore muscles.
Will it help with your headaches or migraines? It’s worth a try!
Take the Plunge
I would recommend that you start slowly with Epsom salt baths, as you can feel worn down the next day after taking your first one. Start with one cup in warm water, and adults can go up to 2 cups at a time. Children under 60 pounds should use half a cup of Epsom salt in the bath. You can do this up to three times a week, soaking for 20 minutes. You can eventually soak for much longer, as I mentioned I will sit for up to one hour once a week. You can even add your favorite essential oils for added benefit. I mean, who doesn’t want an excuse to take a hot back in the evening before bed? So, take the plunge and let me know what you think!
Thanks for reading this article and remember that every journey begins with a single step… Take one today.
~ Kelly ~