Saturday, April 13, 2024

Epsom salts — folk remedy or real ?

A relaxing bubble bath with candles and bath salts after an exhausting day, could do wonders for your tired body. 

Ever wondered what these bath salts are actually made of or what they do for your body? 

Continue reading to find out. 


FUN FACT — “It is quaintly referred to in the plural – Epsom salts instead of Epsom salt.”


What Is Epsom Salts?

Epsom salts known as magnesium sulphate or as common folk call it- bath salts. 

It’s a chemical compound made up of magnesium, sulphur, and oxygen. Originally made by boiling down mineral waters at Epsom, England, hence the name. The source has been depleted over the years so now most epsom salt is chemically produced. Despite its name and structure, Epsom salts is a completely different compound from table salt. Epsom salt is quite bitter and unpalatable for most people. 


For centuries, Epsom salts has been the go-to, to treat ailments like insomnia, constipation, widespread muscle pain and tenderness. Unfortunately, its effects on these conditions have not been studied or been the topic of a lot of research so it isn’t recommended by most physicians.  

Most of the reported benefits of Epsom salts are attributed to its magnesium, a mineral that a lot of people do not get enough of. 


India produces Epsom salts using two methods: 

(i) By treating magnesium carbonate or hydroxide with sulphuric acid.

(ii) from ‘Sels’ mixture obtained during the manufacture of common salt from sea water.


How does it work?

The most common way to use Epsom salts is in baths, it is simply dissolved in warm bathwater where it releases minerals magnesium and sulphate ions, These minerals absorbed by the skin are hugely beneficial for health. 

Add two cups of Epsom salts to a bath of warm water. Stir the water to help dissolve the granules. It’s best to soak in the salt water for around ten to twelve minutes. Avoid overdoing it so there are no adverse effects.

Epsom salts can be applied to your skin as a cosmetic product or taken orally as a magnesium supplement or laxative. 


NOTE— You can buy Epsom salts online or at most pharmacies or general convenience stores.


Does it really work?

While the jury is still out on the scientific benefits of Epsom salts, the use of this magical salt has been around for aeons, as a common folk remedy. Folk remedies are often dismissed by researchers. Apparently, researchers just aren’t interested in studying the effect of Epsom salts on muscle pain, or they simply can’t get funding for the work. For their sake we’ll assume its the latter. 


What are the benefits of Epsom salts? 


  • Restore magnesium levels in your body — 

Once magnesium passes through your skin it penetrates the muscles and gets into your bloodstream. It is a great alternative to get your daily quota of magnesium. 


  • Ease aches and pains —

It is widely believed that an Epsom salts bath can help soothe away muscle aches and  soreness. Magnesium sulphate is absorbed by the skin and helps block pain receptors. Epsom salts baths are often used by athletes after rigorous exercise for muscle recovery. Some people say that it isn’t the effect of salts on your pain but the warm water that soothes your aching body parts. I mean, whatever gets the job done, right?


  • Soothe arthritis —

Epsom salts is often used as a compress for aching joints or people who suffer from arthritis.


  • Decreases inflammation —

Magnesium deficiency is one of the causes of increased inflammation and other conditions like cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, joint pain and even stress. Increasing your magnesium levels will help relieve these conditions. What better way to up those magnesium levels than a long, soothing bath?


  • Eases stress —

We’re always on the hunt for serotonin uppers. What if I tell you there is something to elevate your mood, do away with stress and even relieve muscular tension? 

Epsom salts! 

The magnesium in Epsom salts helps produce serotonin. However, critics will say that the calming effects of Epsom salts baths are simply because of the hot bath and not the salt. 


  • Detox dip —

The sulphate component of Epsom salts helps to extract all the toxins and heavy metals from your body. Its a great way to detox your body. But be sure to not overdo the bath as you can feel drained or nauseous. 


  • Constipation relief —

An Epsom salts bath or drinking Epsom salts is a great laxative. It helps ease stubborn bowels.


  • Eases eczema and psoriasis —

Epsom salts is recommended by skin specialists to to help soothe the dry and itchy skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema.


  • Healthy heart —

Magnesium improves blood circulation and keeps your arteries elastic. It improves the overall health of your heart by preventing heart disease, strokes, regulating your heartbeat and blood pressure.


  • Scrubs off dead skin and soothes sunburns —

Mixed with your favourite essential oils, epsom salt doubles up as a great skin or hair scrub. It exfoliates the skin, scrubs of dead and dry skin, a magnificent foot scrub and even eases the sting of sunburn. 


  • Promotes sleep —

A warm and relaxing bath is a sure shot way to make your eyelids heavy with sleep. A lot of people claim that taking Epsom salts baths allows your body to absorb magnesium through the skin making you sleepy and stress free as magnesium levels are essential for sleep and stress management. 


NOTE — Safety and side effects of epsom salt- keep in mind 

While it is generally safe, there are a few negative effects that can occur if you use it incorrectly. 

  • The main concern is when you take it orally. Magnesium sulphate can have a laxative effect on your body. Therefore consuming it may result in diarrhoea, bloating or an upset stomach. If you use it as a laxative, make sure to drink plenty of water with it. 
  • An overly long bath can cause nausea, headache, lightheadedness and flushed skin, do not overdo it. 


It truly is a wonder salt for your body.

Vinita Alvares Fernandes
Vinita Alvares Fernandes is an Economics graduate, a writer and a Trinity College certified public speaker and communicator

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