Who doesn’t love a warm, relaxing bath?  With aromatic oils, a good book (and maybe a glass of wine) a bath can feel like a mini-vacation from your busy, potentially stressful world.  It can also provide therapeutic relief of muscle tension resulting from that stress or from a physically active lifestyle.

As bodyworkers, we often recommend epsom salt baths to our clients to offer a way for clients to enhance and expand on the work we have done in the office and to encourage self-care at home.

What is epsom salt?

Epsom salt (an inorganic salt) is actually a combination of magnesium and sulfate that is naturally present in some  mineral waters.  It is known for its many health benefits and can be purchased inexpensively at any store that carries health and wellness products.  The many benefits, cost and accessibility makes epsom salt a great staple to keep on hand in your medicine cabinet! We recommend Epsom Salt By Sky Organics – 100% Pure Magnesium Sulfate.

According to the Epsom Salt Council, a certain amount of magnesium in Epsom salt is readily absorbed through the skin. Supporting this statement is a 2004 study conducted by the School of Biosciences at the University of Birmingham, which measured the magnesium status of participants before and after taking baths containing dissolved Epsom salt. From the results, researchers concluded that prolonged soaking in an Epsom salt bath indeed raises magnesium levels, and without any adverse effects

Why do we need Magnesium?

A lack of magnesium—which helps regulate the activity of more than 300 enzymes in the body—can contribute to high blood pressure, hyperactivity, heart problems and other health issues, doctors warn. Sulfate is essential for many biological processes, helping to flush toxins and helping form proteins in joints, brain tissue and mucin proteins. (Epsom Salt Council)

Americans’ intake of magnesium dropped 50% in the last century, and the consequences are alarming. A lack of magnesium underlies our epidemic of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and osteoporosis, says Lawrence Resnick, M.D., a professor of medicine at Cornell Medical Center. Minus magnesium, hearts beat irregularly; arteries stiffen, constrict and clog; blood pressure rises; blood tends to clot; muscles spasm; insulin grows weaker and blood sugar jumps; bones lose strength; and pain signals intensify.

“Many people needlessly suffer pain — including fibromyalgia, migraines and muscle cramps — because they don’t get enough magnesium,” says Mildred Seelig, M.D., a leading magnesium researcher at the University of North Carolina. (USA Weekend, by Jean Carper 9/1/2012)

What are some of the therapeutic benefits of epsom salt baths?

(From Saltworks.us)

Eases stress and relaxes the body

Stress drains the body of magnesium and increases levels of adrenaline. When dissolved in warm water, Epsom salt is absorbed through the skin and replenishes the level of magnesium in the body. The magnesium helps to produce serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of calm and relaxation. Research shows that magnesium also increases energy and stamina by encouraging the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the energy packets made in the cells. Experts believe that bathing with Epsom salt at least three times a week helps you to look better, feel better and gain more energy. Magnesium ions also relax and reduce irritability by lowering the effects of adrenaline. They lower blood pressure, create a relaxed feeling, improve sleep and concentration, and help muscles and nerves to function properly.

Relieve pain and muscle cramps

An Epsom salt bath is known to ease pain and relieve inflammation, making it beneficial in the treatment of sore muscles, bronchial asthma and migraine headaches. In addition, it has been known to heal cuts and reduce soreness from childbirth. Mix a thick paste of Epsom salt with hot water and apply to get soothing comfort.

Helps muscles and nerves function properly

Studies show that Epsom salt can help regulate electrolytes in your body, ensuring proper functioning of the muscles, nerves and enzymes. Magnesium is also known to be critical in the proper use of calcium, which serves as a main conductor of the electric impulses in your body.

Helps prevent hardening of arteries and blood clots

Epsom salt is believed to improve heart health and help prevent heart disease and strokes by improving blood circulation, lowering blood pressure, protecting the elasticity of arteries, preventing blood clots and reducing the risk of sudden heart attack deaths.

Makes insulin more effective

Proper magnesium and sulfate levels increase the effectiveness of insulin in the body, helping to lower the risk or severity of diabetes.

Eliminates toxins from the body

The sulfates in Epsom salt help flush toxins and heavy metals from the cells, easing muscle pain and helping the body to eliminate harmful substances. Your skin is a highly porous membrane and adding the right minerals to your bathwater triggers a process called reverse osmosis, which actually pulls salt out of your body, and harmful toxins along with it

Soothe sprains and bruises 

May reduce the pain and swelling of sprains and bruises.

Ease discomfort of Gout

Eases the discomfort of gout and reduce inflammation. Try adding 2-3 teaspoons of Epsom salts into a basin and immersing the affected foot/joint. The water should be as hot as it is comfortable. Soak for about 30 minutes.

How do I use epsom salt in my bath?

Add 2 cups of epsom salt to a warm (not hot) bath.  Relax for about fifteen minutes in the bath, get out and give your body a thorough vigorous rub using a dry towel. Avoid becoming chilled. Try to rest for about two hours afterwards. Simple and enjoyable!

Is there anyone who shouldn’t take an epsom salt bath?

Anytime you try something new to affect your health, you should check in with your doctor to make sure its right for you.  Some people pregnant women or people with cardiovascular conditions are advised to avoid baths in general.  When giving children epsom salt baths take care to prevent them from ingesting the water as epsom salt is a known laxative and could cause a laxative effect on the child.

We hope you will enjoy a good soak soon!