Ever taken a hot Epsom salt bath?
You might want to consider it if you’re experiencing the joint pain of arthritis. Maybe you’re sore from working out and don’t want to take any more Motrin or Aleve than you already are. Or perhaps you’re stressed out and need some help relaxing.
Either way, Epsom salts can help. It’s been successfully used for tens of thousands of years, is still in use today, and just might be the all-natural, drug free solution you’ve been looking for.
What exactly are Epsom salt baths?
While you wouldn’t want to sprinkle it on your french fries Epsom salts are, indeed, a salt. All salts are chemical compounds which contain a metal, usually negatively charged, and a positively charged “base” molecule. Opposite charges attract, and the two are loosely bound together. They’ll easily dissolve in water but are very stable solids when they’re not wet.
In the case of table salt the metal is sodium is attached to a chloride ion, hence sodium chloride. In the case of Epsom salts the metal magnesium is bound to a sulfite ion, hence magnesium sulfate. It’s term “Epsom” is used because the hot springs of Epsom, England are exceptionally rich in this compound. They’re still in use today and are basically large, natural Epsom baths.
Epsom salts are different than other types of salt traditionally used in bathing. An example is Dead Sea salts. They’re a blend of several different salts and minerals produced by evaporating sea water in the Middle East. Fancy bath salts typically use Epsom salts or large table salt crystals and in most cases are heavily perfumed. They might smell pretty yet mass produced chemical perfumes can act as irritants and aren’t exactly good for most people’s skin. It’s possible to buy bath salts with natural fragrances and oils but they’re many times more expensive.
How Does Epsom Salt Work?
There’s no doubt that you’ve seen table salt dissolve in water. Epsom salts are just as soluble and break down or “dissociate” into magnesium and sulfate. When you take an Epsom bath both compounds are absorbed through the skin, theoretically easing the pain of stiff joints and relieving muscle soreness. While this hasn’t been scientifically proven there’s literally tens of thousands of years of evidence that they work exactly as intended.
Epsom salt bath can prove helpful for:
- Minor pain associated with arthritis
- Excessive swelling.
- Sprains and strains.
- Post-exercise soreness
- The redness and discomfort associated with sunburn.
- Achy feet.
- Scaly, itchy skin associated with psoriasis.
- Other minor skin irritations.
- Fibromyalgia, a poorly understood condition which results in widespread pain and often debilitating fatigue.
- Bruises and sprains
You should technically talk to your doctor before making changes to your healthcare regimen. In reality Epsom salts baths cause no side effects and interfere with no medications you may be taking. If you’re being treated for a specific skin condition you should certainly consult your doctor but in general Epsom salts are completely safe.