Appropriate levels of magnesium are absolutely key to good health, but it is very common to have a magnesium deficiency. Alcoholism, severe diarrhea, malnutrition or high calcium levels (hypercalcemia) can all cause hypomagnesemia or low magnesium levels. By simply soaking your feet or entire body in a bath containing Epsom salts, you can increase internal levels of magnesium naturally without taking magnesium supplements.
Magnesium regulates over 300 enzymes in the body and plays an important role in organizing many bodily functions. These vital functions including muscle control, energy production, electrical impulses and elimination of harmful toxins. Magnesium deficiencies are associated with a number of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). By boosting your internal magnesium levels through external use of Epsom salt, you can help improve or ward off many avoidable health ailments.
2. Reduces Stress
Is soaking in Epsom salt good for you? Everyone has heard of the recommendation to have a good soak in a warm bath after a rough day. Whether it’s rough mentally, physically or both, a warm bath is such a great way to relieve stress. If you want to amplify the stress-reducing benefits of a nice, long soak, then add a cup or two of Epsom salt to your bathwater. Not only does the magnesium help relax your muscles, but it can also help relax your mind.
According to research from the University of North Carolina, magnesium deficiency enhances stress reactions. Further studies show that magnesium has a profound effect on stress and neural excitability. Magnesium salts, such as Epsom salt, can reduce stress and may improve neuropsychiatric disorders.
Magnesium is critical to the production of energy in cells. By increasing magnesium levels, you can feel revived without feeling restless. It’s a much more calm energy as opposed to how people feel revived from caffeine consumption.
3. Eliminates Toxins
The sulfates in Epsom salt assist the body in flushing out toxins. That provides a heavy metal detox from the body’s cells. This can help lower the internal accumulation of harmful substances. Human skin is a highly porous membrane. By adding minerals like magnesium and sulfate to your bathwater, it sparks a process called reverse osmosis, which literally pulls salt out of your body and dangerous toxins along with it.
Is Epsom salt bath weight loss possible? As part of a healthy weight loss plan, detox baths with magnesium sulfate and baking soda are sometimes recommended. This doesn’t mean that Epsom salt weight loss is really “a thing,” but since the salt can discourage water retention and promote elimination (more on that next), it’s not a bad idea to add it to a holistic weight loss approach.
Recommendations of how much epsom salt for bath water can vary. For an Epsom salts detox bath, add at least two cups of Epsom salt to bathwater and soak for 40 minutes total. The first 20 minutes give your body time to remove toxins from your system, while the last 20 minutes allow you to absorb the minerals in the water and help you emerge from the bath feeling rejuvenated. Make sure to consume water before, during and after the bath to protect yourself from dehydration and increase detoxification.
4. Relieves Constipation
Can you drink Epsom salts? Epsom salt is an FDA-approved laxative and commonly used to naturally relieve constipation. When taken internally, it acts like a laxative by increasing water in the intestines and cleansing the colon of waste. A roundup of studies published in Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology notes that there is strong evidence that Epsom salt “has potent laxative effect in vitro through the release of digestive hormones and neurotransmitters.”
Internal use of magnesium sulfate can bring about temporary relief from constipation, but like any laxative, Epsom salt for constipation is not meant to be a long-term solution or a substitute for a healthy high-fiber diet.
If a laxative solution is a must, it’s smart to avoid many of the harsh laxatives on the market today. Why? They are commonly loaded with artificial colors and flavors and questionable chemicals. To take magnesium sulfate orally, a typical suggestion is to dissolve one dose in eight ounces of water. Stir this mixture and drink all of it right away. You may add a small amount of lemon juice to improve the taste.
Drink plenty of liquids while consuming an Epsom salt laxative to prevent dehydration. Magnesium sulfate taken orally should produce a bowel movement within 30 minutes to six hours.
5. Reduces Pain and Inflammation
A warm bath containing Epsom salt is known to ease pain and relieve the inflammation at the root of most diseases. This makes it a beneficial natural treatment sore muscles, headaches (including migraines) and arthritis pain.
Soaking in warm water is one of the oldest forms of alternative therapy for arthritis. If you add Epsom salt, the bath becomes so much more therapeutic. According to the Arthritis Foundation:
Data collected by the National Academy of Sciences show most Americans don’t get enough magnesium, a mineral that’s important for bone and heart health. One way to help remedy that: bathing in magnesium sulfate crystals, also known as Epsom salts. They’re relatively inexpensive, can be found at grocery and drug stores and can boost magnesium levels as much as 35 percent, according to researchers at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.
Have an annoying and painful splinter stuck in your hand? Soak the problem area in warm water and Epsom salt, and the splinter should be drawn out of the skin in no time! Soreness after childbirth? Epsom salt can help with that, too. In general, healthy magnesium levels from Epsom salt use can help overall bodily inflammation since low magnesium has been linked with higher C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation in the body.
6. Improves Blood Sugar Levels
Type 2 diabetes is frequently associated with both extracellular and intracellular magnesium deficiencies. Meanwhile, healthy magnesium levels are linked with a reduced risk of developing diabetes. As you now know, Epsom salt is an excellent source of magnesium.
Regular intake of Epsom salts, either orally or transdermally, may help regulate blood sugar, lowering the risk of diabetes and improving daily energy levels. Of course, check with your doctor before using any new natural diabetes remedies.
7. Volumizes Hair
Adding Epsom salts to hair products can help decrease excess oil. Excess oil contributes to hair looking flat and weighed down. One easy way to create your own volumizing conditioner at home is to combine equal parts salt and conditioner (example: two tablespoons conditioner + two tablespoons Epsom salts). After shampooing hair as usual, apply the volumizing conditioner mix to hair, coating it from the scalp to the ends. Leave the mix in for 1o to 20 minutes before rinsing. This is a great weekly hair treatment.
8. May Boost Plant Health
Epsom salt garden usage is common and for good reason — it works as a natural fertilizer. Epsom salt is known to enhance the vibrancy of plants. It can also help them to grow better and even bigger, though some experts remain skeptical. Still, many gardeners love using Epsom salt for tomatoes, roses and peppers, and some people find it increases plant yields.
Some suggested ways to use epsom salt for plants include:
- When planting vegetables or roses, sprinkle around one tablespoon of Epsom salts into the planting hole.
- Combine one tablespoon of salt per gallon of water to use as a foliar spray, and apply when the plants start to flower and again when young fruit appears.
9. Helps Breathing Problems
Magnesium sulfate has also shown success as a natural treatment for bronchial asthma. A scientific review published in 2012 points out that magnesium sulfate “has been considered as an adjunct therapy for severe and life-threatening asthma exacerbation.”
The first clinical use of magnesium for asthma was actually reported back in 1936. Why can magnesium sulfate be helpful? One main reason is that magnesium relaxes bronchial smooth muscles in a dose-dependent manner. Today, the use of magnesium sulfate intravenously is an add-on therapy along with standard treatment in acute and severe asthma exacerbations.
10. Helps Prevent Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia is a potentially dangerous pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure. Magnesium sulfate is one of the ways some doctors and pregnant women use to improve or help to prevent preeclampsia. Research shows that magnesium sulfate has in vivo and in vitro vasodilator properties. What is a vasodilator? It’s something that helps widen blood vessels and improve blood flow. Magnesium sulfate is especially known for its use in the management of severe cases of preeclampsia to prevent the progression to eclampsia, which is the onset of seizures in women with preeclampsia.
Where to Find Epsom Salt and How to Use It
It’s easy to find Epsom salt at any drugstore and many supermarkets. And it’s very affordable. One- to two-pound bags are typically in stock, but smaller sizes are available as well. You can usually locate Epsom salt where you find peroxide and rubbing alcohol or in the laxative section. Once you have your Epsom salt at home, store it at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
When it comes to external use of Epsom salt for health reasons, the most common recommendation is to soak the entire body in warm water containing one to two cups of Epsom salt for at least 20 minutes. A half cup of Epsom salt can also be added to a large pan of warm water for a 20-minute foot bath. For internal use of Epsom salt, follow the guidelines on the packaging, or consult your physician.
Epsom salt has a long history of use in the garden as well. For more robust vegetables, try adding a tablespoon of Epsom salt to the soil underneath a plant to boost growth. Epsom salt is also great for indoor gardening too. For potted plants, simply dissolve two tablespoons of Epsom salt per gallon of water, and substitute this solution for normal watering once a month.
Looking to get rid of slugs from your walkways and patios without using chemicals? Sprinkle some Epsom salt to keep them away. For itchy skin, bug bites or sunburn, you can dissolve a tablespoon of Epsom salt in a half cup of cool water in a spray bottle and spritz on skin as needed.
You can use Epsom salt for household cleaning, too. To clean tile and grout, mix equal parts of liquid dish soap and Epsom salt, and apply this mixture to dirty and/or stained surfaces anywhere in your home. Allow the mixture to soak in for a couple of minutes, scrub away the loosened filth and rinse clean.