I love a hot tubby during the cold winter months.
An Epsom salt bath is the one thing my sore muscles love even more despite the temperature outside.
I often prescribe this easy-to-do bath to most of my patients since it has so many health benefits beyond the old "soak in the tub" remedy.
Some think Epsom salt's healing powers are an old wives' tale but I disagree.
I can tell you personally the calming effects of a warm bath can take your busy mind, emotional stress, and physical pain to a whole other place.
Epsom Salt Bath: 11 Surprising Health Benefits
Cryotherapy and cold water baths are the new rage and have their place in healing for sure.
All the while, a practice from thousands of years ago, the Epsom salt bath, has fallen in the rankings.
I'm here to bring the warm water bath back to the mainstream!
Magnesium sulfate, hot water, and Epsom salt soaks should be included in your every day healing process.
So, move that shower curtain, draw your bath water and let's have a pow wow with the Epsom salt council!
This post is about the health benefits of taking an Epsom salt bath and why you need to include it in your weekly self-care routine.
The History of Epsom Salt
The story goes back to the 1600s from a town called Epsom in Surrey, England.
A cattle farmer noticed that his livestock refused to drink from a watering spring as it had a bitter taste and laxative effect on the animals.
Much to this farmer's surprise, the pool of water outside London had high concentrations of an essential mineral with anti-inflammatory properties.
As a result, the town of Epsom eventually became a spa destination.
What is epsom salt made of?
It is a chemical compound of magnesium, sulfate, and oxygen.
As a conventional bath salt, it is different from table salt entirely, so don't think of using it for cooking!
Epsom salt varieties differ in grade and is used for humans and farming practices.
"Generally regarded as safe" or a GRAS distinction is used for humans.
Therefore, it is important for us to use salt with the USP designation (a stamp of quality approval).
How does epsom salt work?
The healing properties of Epsom salt come primarily from the salt's magnesium levels.
Magnesium acts as a muscle relaxer.
It is also known to have potential benefits for healing the skin.
Injections of magnesium sulfate are given to women with high blood pressure during pregnancy to prevent seizures.
The Healing Benefits of Epsom Salt Baths
Pain relief from Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, Gout, and Psoriatic arthritis are all inflammatory diseases.
These conditions cause the body's immune system to short circuit. The immune system then attacks itself targeting joints, muscles, and soft tissue.
Some research shows that those with low magnesium have a higher risk of low-grade inflammatory conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Epsom salt can provide some short-term relief since it acts to combat the pain of inflammation.
Decreases Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
If you are an avid exerciser or Cross Fit enthusiast, you know well what DOMS means.
Delayed onset muscle soreness is a type of muscle strain injury that can begin 24-36 hours after a hard workout.
- muscle pain
- pain with movement
It is thought that improving circulation to the soft tissue during a DOMS episode can lessen the feelings of pain and improve mobility.
Soothes Dry Skin
Many skin conditions benefit from soaking in a salty tub.
If you have Eczema or Psoriasis, soaking in a mild temperature epsom bath can relieve itchy skin. However, it is essential to moisturize right after getting out of the bath to prevent the skin from drying out further.
Scrubbing the bottom of the feet with a salt scrub can help reduce the thickness of the skin and leave your feet feeling smooth.
Reduces the Burning of Athlete's Foot
Taking a foot bath in a gallon of water and 3 whole cups of Epsom salt can help to reduce the burning, itching, and scaling from the fungal infection known as athlete's foot.
This is a highly contagious fungus ( a form of ringworm) that can spread quickly. That's why it's essential to not go barefoot in public showers or locker rooms. Soaking the feet in 1 cup of Epsom salt can also help decrease the inflammation pain of an ingrown toenail.
There has been some mixed evidence that soaking the feet in Epsom salt can help to detoxify the body from heavy metals.
Calms the Nervous System
Have you ever noticed your shoulders have somehow crept upwards towards your ears?
When you do, do you know how long they have been up there?
If "I have no idea" is your answer, get into an Epsom salt bath NOW!
Magnesium helps to relax tight tissue.
It can be the perfect ending to a stressful long day.
By taking an Epsom salt bath combined with Ylang Ylang essential oil while sipping some Chamomile tea can promote a perfect relaxation trifecta.
Encourages Wound Healing
Warm compresses and salt water baths can help to "draw out" infections.
When the skin or tissue underneath it has been traumatized (cut, scraped, or punctured), the immune system helps heal all the injured tissue.
However, infections can occur when there is a delay in healing or the immune system isn't strong enough to help fight off other bacteria or fungus.
As a result, the infection can "come to the surface" more quickly and "draw it out."
Mental Stress Decompression
It doesn't take much to carve out "down time" for mental relaxation.
The problem for most of us is that we don't make this self-care break a daily priority.
We make a million excuses why 15 minutes of quiet time isn't possible in our daily grind.
Work, home, kids, pets, cooking, etc. Creating a night time wind down ritual could have side effects like:
- improved sleep
- low blood pressure
- less hot flashes
- more daytime energy
Improved Bowel Movement
Bathing in warm to hot water opens the pores.
In fact, whatever you soak in gets absorbed through the skin.
Chemicals, toxins, and medications can make their way through the skin barrier and into our system.
Since magnesium can relax the tissue, taking an Epsom salt bath can promote and improve bowel movements.
Strengthens the Immune System
One of the most beneficial properties of magnesium besides relaxation of smooth muscle is that it can help improve how white blood cells destroy germs.
Our immune system works to protect us from invaders like harmful bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
Studies show that people with a magnesium deficiency have higher infection and immune dysfunction rates.
Enhances Deep Sleep
When magnesium levels are optimal, they can support the brain chemicals that influence sleep.
In fact, when taken orally, some forms of magnesium can assist in 300 or more activities in the body, including all that are involved in a good night's sleep.
Many use melatonin as a natural sleep aid to help themselves fall asleep. However, magnesium aids in all the processes involved in staying asleep.
Therefore, there is some validity in using a combination of melatonin and magnesium at night before bed to help calm the mind, relax the body and sleep more soundly.
When the body experiences inflammation, chemicals released from cells cause fluid to leak into the tissue, causing swelling.
One of the roles of magnesium as an electrolyte is to balance out any excess sodium.
When there is too much sodium, fluid retention can occur.
Therefore, some believe that magnesium sulfate baths can assist the body in decreasing swelling.
When Not To Take An Epsom Salt Bath
In some rare instances, taking an Epsom salt bath might not be beneficial.
Those with the following conditions are advised against bathing in magnesium sulfate:
- Known high magnesium levels (typical with Addison's Disease, Kidney Disease, or Dehydration)
- Low blood calcium (often caused by the removal of the parathyroid glands)
- Myasthenia gravis (an autoimmune disease that causes the muscles to weaken...magnesium sulfate can cause the muscles to relax and weaken more)
- Cancers that cause muscle weakness
There are many healing powers of Epsom salt baths.
However, there are some conditions where magnesium sulfate should not be used. Being informed is the safest and best way to partake in conventional and alternative therapies.
As I write these posts as an integrative medicine provider, I, too, am a consumer and believer in the self-care movement. We owe ourselves to be good, kind, and nurturing, so grab your favorite essential oil, run yourself a warm bath, and get salty with me!
Products I Use
Dead Sea Soak
Dr Teal's Epsom
Epsom Salt Bath: 11 Surprising Health Benefits
by DR. BIANCA BELDINI
August 20, 2022
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read full disclosure here.