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benefits of epsom salt baths

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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.

benefits of epsom salt baths

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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.

benefits of epsom salt baths

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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.

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Relieve constipation

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.

benefits of epsom salt baths

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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.

benefits of epsom salt baths

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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.

benefits of epsom salt baths

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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.

benefits of epsom salt baths

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Relieve osteoarthritis

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.

benefits of epsom salt baths

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Cure a hangover

Okay, an Epsom salt bath can’t cure a hangover. However, it’s important to know that alcohol consumption depletes the body of magnesium (which contributes to that throbbing headache you feel the next day). An Epsom bath can restore your magnesium levels. Plus, the warm water can soothe your muscles and relieve some of that hangover anxiety.

benefits of epsom salt baths

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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.

benefits of epsom salt baths


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.

benefits of epsom salt baths

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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.

benefits of epsom salt baths

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How much and for how long?

Though again, there isn’t hard evidence that soaking up Epsom salt is as effective as the intravenous treatment, research that does exist on it says you don’t need to take a long bath to feel the effects. Around 300 grams of Epsom salt, and around a 10 to 15-minute soak, should have you feeling the effects.

benefits of epsom salt baths

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Never consume it

While a doctor may administer Epsom salt intravenously, and it has some possible topical uses, it should not be consumed. Some make the mistake of consuming it to alleviate constipation, but this can lead to dangerous side effects, including severe diarrhea and dehydration. Even in your bath, do not use more Epsom salt than recommended by your healthcare professional, as side effects can occur such as dizziness, slow heartbeat, or skin rash.

benefits of epsom salt baths

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Beware of open wounds

If you currently have any open wounds or active skin infections, do not take an Epsom salt bath. While ancient medicine may have used Epsom salt baths to heal wounds, they can further irritate wounds or infections. It should be used more for preventative treatment, but if you’re facing an active wound or infection, speak to your doctor about the best course of action.

benefits of epsom salt baths

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Buy the real stuff

When buying Epsom salt, it’s important to get the pure variety. Look for 100 percent magnesium sulfate. Whole Foods, as well as most health food stores, should carry the stuff. Avoid cheaper varieties that contain any additives, as you do not know how your body will react. Only pure Epsom salt can provide the benefits discussed here.

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