Saturday, October 13, 2012

Epsom Salt Bath Benefits

I grew up with a container of Epsom salts next to my bathtub. My dad has a PhD in chemistry and worked for the EPA for over 30 years. He's always done some things that seem a little weird to me and one of those things was bathing in Epsom salt. It was always around so it seemed normal to take a salt bath, especially for sore muscles.

It was only as an adult I started buying it for my own bathroom and wondering what the science was behind it. How does it help sore muscles? Does it really flush toxins?

Epsom salt was named for a bitter saline spring at Epsom in Surrey, England. It is not actually salt but a naturally occurring mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. It has long been known as a natural remedy for many health conditions.

Magnesium and sulfate are readily absorbed through the skin and so soaking in an Epsom salt bath gives your body the benefits of these minerals. 

Magnesium regulates the activity of over 325 enzymes in the body. It reduces inflammation, helps muscle and nerve function and helps prevent artery hardening. Most Americans are magnesium deficient but an Epsom salt bath is a great way to absorb magnesium. Studies indicate that the magnesium absorbed during bathing may raise serotonin levels (the chemical in the brain that creates a feeling of well being), and may also offset excess levels of adrenalin caused by everyday stress.

Sulfates help improve the absorption of nutrients, flush toxins and help ease migraine headaches. The sulfates in Epsom salt help flush toxins and heavy metals from the cells and help the body eliminate harmful substances to ease muscle pain. 

Adding minerals to your bath causes reverse osmosis which actually pulls salt out of the body and harmful toxins too.

A study done at the School of Biosciences at the University of Birmingham in 2004 measured the magnesium levels of volunteers before and after taking baths in Epsom salt. Researchers concluded that prolonged soaking in an Epsom salt bath is a safe and easy way to increase sulfate and magnesium levels. According to the study it's best to bathe in 2 cups of Epsom salt dissolved in about 15 gallons of water for 12 minutes, 2-3 times a week.

After finding so many positive effects associated with soaking in Epsom salts I'm going to make it a more regular part of my routine.


  1. Epsom salt was always a remedy in my household ever since I could remember as well, except my mother really only used it and recommended its use for soaking aching feet in. It always worked wonders for my feet if I was on my feet all day, like when I was in cosmetology class in high school, or in my late teens and early 20s working in retail, spending anywhere from 6 to 9 hours a day on my feet. I just always figured that there was some kind of property in the salts, in combination with hot water, that acted like a muscle relaxant of sorts, but I never gave it anymore thought, or really considered soaking my whole body in a tub of Epsom salted water, until a few years ago when my back pain from a slew of spine-wide injuries and fibromyalgia on top of it, that I'd had since 2002, became much worse over a short period of time, and remained (meaning that it wasn't just a temporary flare up, and was an increase in my pain level and increased severity of my conditions). I could lay on a heating pad all day on my back, but as soon as I moved off the heating pad, all the pain floods right back as soon as the tissues cool back down. Massage is touch and go, as most days I can't stand even the idea of someone touching my back. I have a TENS unit that I use on occasion, but that's yet another one of those therapies where as soon as I remove it/turn it off, the pain comes back. I wracked my brain and finally thought back to the Epsom salts and how great they always worked on foot and ankle pain (I sprained my ankles too many times to count over the course of my life which, I found out just a few years ago, is due to my having hypermobile joint syndrome. I remember also using Espom salt foot baths for my sprained and twisted ankles, as well, and it worked great for that as well.) so I went online and looked up some information on Epsom salts beyond what I already knew about them, and if they were at all effective for pain related to both fibromyalgia and non-muscular spine pain, which they are! So I bought a large bag of Epsom salts and took my first full body bath in them about a year or two ago and I swear I didn't want to get out of the bathtub! It's not like there's a huge, incredible reduction in pain from an Epsom bath, at least in my case, but when I'm in the middle of a flare up, or it's one of those days where my pain spikes and nothing seems to work, it reduces the pain and relaxes me just enough the point where the flare up/spike becomes somewhat tolerable, and also seems to help aid in other treatments, kind of like a booster, and, a surprise to me, optimal effects last anywhere between 4 hours to 24 hours after taking the bath, depending on the pain type, cause, etc. I was quite surprised that it lasts even 15 minutes after getting out of the bathtub, let alone for hours, and even up to a full day, afterwards. Unfortunately, I can't do the baths very often at all, because I live in a house with one bathroom for 4 adults, all of whom are home most of the day (barring my father, who, though "retired", works part time, 4 hours a day 5 days a week, but my mom is totally disabled, my sister's unemployed and recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia and has some other health issues preventing her from finding, and being able to, work, and I'm totally disabled as well), so the majority of the time a bath is out of the question. It's tough enough figuring out the right time to take a quick shower without someone in the house needing to use the bathroom for whatever reason, let alone the 30-45 minutes it would take to prepare a bath, take a bath, rinse off from a bath, and clean up afterwards, as well as the time and effort it would take to wash the bathtub out before filling the bathtub out, which on a good day for me is a great effort, just imagine how it must be for me on the bad days when I really need to do that bath! (continued...)

  2. (continued...) So I just keep this as a "desperation" treatment, meaning that if all else fails, I take a bath and everyone in the house will just have to wait to use the bathroom while I'm soaking. The other issue is the size of the bathtub, too. I'm 5'4" and still have to scrunch up my legs and body just to fit in the tub, which is an issue for someone like myself. But it's worth it when I can do it. Sorry for such a long comment, but you asked if anyone had experience with this ;)

    1. Our tub doesn't work, so we just do foot baths with a dish pan. You can also add water and just spritz some on or soak a wash cloth and lay it on the skin. Or take it internally to bowel tolerance....

  3. When I was growing up, it was common to use epsom salts for soaking a sprain. I never knew why, though. I found your post to be very interesting. I have only used them to fertilize pepper plants! :D But I am going to keep this in mind. Thank you so much!

  4. Hi Nicole, I’m Anne from Life on the Funny Farm (, and I’m visiting from the barn hop.

    I had heard of people doing this, but never knew the "why". Now I do! Thanks...

    Anyway, it’s nice to “meet” you! Hope you can pop by my blog sometime to say hi…

  5. Epsom Salts are highly recommended in the treatment of kids with autism. I didn't know that "typical" folks grew up using it on a regular basis! Thanks for all of the valuable information!

    1. Daisy- My oldest son who's 10 is on the spectrum so I'd heard of it for autism as well. I didn't encounter any info on that when I was doing my research and don't feel qualified to go into the specifics of that so I didn't include it here. I only went into the generalities of Epsom salts removing harmful toxins out of the body. I did add it to my sons bath when he was younger but I don't know if it made a difference. He takes showers now so it's not an issue.
      I was using ES as a child so I've known it was a good thing for a while ;)

  6. I use them all of the time - and so does my mother. They have always been our after gardening go-to soak. I often mix in essential oils that are supposed to help with whatever it is that i am trying to relieve, too - some are good for anti-inflammatory properties, some are good for pain relief, some are mood elevators, etc. As long as you keep the total amount of drops added to the bath around 6-8, you can mix the oils in pleasing combinations without risking skin irritation. And the baths always smell nice.

  7. I never knew all this! I've been wanting to use them for sore muscles, but I'm super glad to know that there are even more benefits. Totally going to go buy this now. Thanks for the info!

  8. I didn't know about this. I think its great I should try this one. Thanks for that wonderful info.

  9. Fantastic information, thank you for linking up with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop! I hope you’ll join us again next week!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick

  10. I love epsom salts and you explained them so well! I use them all the time for my bad back and knees. I also use an epsom salt bath for detox or when i am having stomach issues, especially when I am exposed to gluten!

    Thanks for sharing on Natural Living Monday! You were featured! I am excited to see what you have to share this week!

  11. I read a book one time about the use of Epsom salts, soaking in it every night (just one cup) with 3 drops of Rosemary Oil and you will sleep like a baby. I started doing it, and now I have a hard time "relaxing" at night if I have not had my Epsom/Rosemary soak. I totally sleep like a baby. That being said, when I over do something and have sore muscles, I soak in 2 cups of it in the hottest water I can for 15 minutes, the next day I feel amazingly better. It works so well, I love that stuff!!

  12. Try adding 3 drops of Rosemary oil to your bath and you will sleep so soundly, it is amazing!!!!

  13. I have just found the miraculous healing property,s of ES. I went the doctors with what I thought was an infected stye. He said it was a chalazion ( cyst), and refered me to an eye speciaist who would lance it. I had 2 days before seeing the specialist, so proceeded to research alternative therapys.
    I began with a mixture of 50/50 solution of ES and boiled water.
    When it was still hot but cool enough to put on skin i soaked eye make up remover pads in the water one at a time. i then squeezed out the excess water and placed on eye until it was cold. I repeated this for about 15 mins using a new eye pad each time.the water needed re heating,so i popped it in the microwave for a few seconds.
    Results were miraculous! Chalazion gone. No surgery required. Please try ES .

    Results were mirac

    Results were amazing, after 2 days using the hot co
    mpress about 4 times daily I am now free from the chazalin!:-)

  14. I love epsom. Epsom Salts are highly recommended in the treatment of kids with autism. I use them all the time for my bad back and knees. Improved heart and circulatory health, reducing irregular heartbeats, preventing hardening of the arteries, reducing blood clots and lowering blood pressure.




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