If you’ve been curious about salt baths, don’t just grab your Kosher table salt and pour it into your tub. The only thing that might fend off is a witch (if you believe in that sort of thing).
Epsom salt isn’t really a salt at all. It’s an essential mineral that’s a combination of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen, and it’s heavily involved in the proper functioning of the nerves and muscles, as well as the electrical and muscle activity of your heart. That’s part of the reason you often find magnesium in laxatives and sleep aids: it can help relax your body and mind at some important times. It’s even used as an intravenous medicine for more serious issues such as seizures or possible premature birth.
As for using Epsom salt in a soak, the medical community is not entirely unanimous in their opinion of its effectiveness. However, many individuals report feeling relief from several ailments including muscle pains and headaches after taking an Epsom salt bath. There is scattered and relevant research on the treatment, but the idea behind an Epsom bath is that the same benefits it offers when administered intravenously, it might also offer when absorbed through the skin. Let’s take a look at how an Epsom salt bath works and what it might do for you.
Soothe a throbbing head
The magnesium in Epsom salt can alleviate sore muscles, including those surrounding the skull. For that reason, it may provide some relief to migraine sufferers. Thanks to its analgesic effect, magnesium has even been studied as a substitute for opioids in treating pain, specifically migraine pain. That could be why, when a headache sets in, loved ones tell you to take a salt bath.
Improve heart health
Because magnesium plays a role in cardiovascular activity, regular Epsom salt baths might improve the health of that important system. One study found that the magnesium found in Epsom salt can reduce the chances of stroke and heart failure. However, it does not appear to reduce the risk of total cardiovascular disease.
Some medical professionals prescribe Epsom salts to patients reporting irritable bowel syndrome symptoms – particularly constipation. They theorize that the magnesium soaks into the digestive system, relaxing the gut, and helping the bowels move more freely. This type of bath is also said to draw more water into your gut, which can help soften stool.
Fight chronic fatigue syndrome
If you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome (FTS), particularly due to Fibromyalgia, you may benefit from taking regular Epsom salt baths. Experts have discovered that both those with Fibromyalgia and FTS are low in something called adenosine triphosphate – something your body uses to store energy. The magnesium found in Epsom salt helps your body produce proper levels of adenosine triphosphate.
Help in your weight loss journey
Epsom salt baths should not be the main tool in your weight loss goals, but it can provide supplementary support by improving nutrient absorption (which can help fight off cravings), and by alleviating constipation (proper digestion = better hunger management). If you struggle with emotional eating, you may find that a warm Epsom bath is just as good at soothing difficult emotions as food is – if not better.
Improve your complexion
One dermatologist says that, because the magnesium in Epsom salt can reduce inflammation, it may improve your skin’s health and lead to a better complexion. He also notes that our modern diet doesn’t give us enough magnesium and that it’s better absorbed through the skin anyways, either through a magnesium spray, or Epsom salt bath.
One small study compared a control group and a group undergoing spa treatments containing mineral-infused additives, such as Epsom salt. Individuals in both groups suffered from primary hand osteoarthritis. The two groups’ pain levels were examined multiple times between two weeks and 12 months of treatment. There was a significant improvement in pain management for the group receiving regular magnesium-containing spa treatments.
Get a better night’s sleep
Magnesium has been found to help combat insomnia. Bear in mind it helps control heart rate and the nervous system, so it can greatly relax your entire body at bedtime. Baths have also been found to help with sleep issues. So combine the power of magnesium-containing Epsom salt and the healing properties of warm water, and you may sleep much deeper.
Relieve irritated skin
You may know that thousands of people visit the Dead Sea each year to float in its colorful waters. They float because of all of that salt, and some studies suggest that the magnesium found it can alleviate irritated skin. An Epsom bath salt containing some added oils, (like coconut oil, or jojoba oil) can soothe inflamed skin while fortifying the skin’s protective barrier and adding hydration.
De-stress after a long day
If you need a way to quickly take the edge off after a stressful day but are trying to hit the wine bottles less, try an Epsom salt bath. Magnesium supplements have been shown to boost the production of serotonin aka the happy brain chemical. It might do the same when absorbed through the skin, especially since warm water can also help fight stress.