Epsom salt is a popular remedy for many ailments.
People use it to relieve health problems such as muscle aches and stress. It is also affordable, easy to use, and non-toxic if used properly.
This article provides a comprehensive overview of Epsom salt benefits, uses, and side effects.
What is Epsom Salt?
Epsom salt is also known as magnesium sulfate. It is a chemical compound consisting of magnesium, sulfur and oxygen.
It takes its name from the town of Epsom in Surrey, England, where it was first discovered.
Despite its name, Epsom salt is a completely different compound than table salt. It is probably called “salt” because of its chemical composition.
It has an appearance similar to table salt and is often dissolved in the bath, so you call it “bath salt”. It is similar to table salt, but the taste is very different. Epsom salt is quite bitter and unpleasant.
Some people still drink the salt by dissolving it in water. However, because of its taste, you probably won’t want to add it to food.
For centuries, this salt has been used to treat conditions such as constipation, insomnia, and fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, the effects in these conditions have not been well studied.
Many of the benefits of Epsom salt are related to magnesium, a mineral that many people do not get enough of.
You can find Epsom salts online and at most drug and grocery stores. It is usually located in a pharmacy or beauty salon.
How does it work?
When Epsom salts are dissolved in water, they release magnesium and sulfate ions.
The idea is that these particles are absorbed by the skin and provide magnesium and sulfate, which are important to the body.
Despite claims to the contrary, there is no good evidence that magnesium or sulfates are absorbed through the skin (1Trusted Source).
However, the most common use of Epsom salt is dissolved in bath water.
However, it can be applied to the skin as a cosmetic and taken orally as a magnesium supplement and sedative.
Health benefits and uses of Epsom salt are reported
Many people, including some health professionals, consider Epsom salt to be therapeutic and use it as an alternative treatment for a number of ailments.
Magnesium is the fourth mineral found in the body, the first being calcium.
It is involved in over 325 biochemical reactions that benefit your heart and nervous system.
Many people do not consume enough magnesium. Even so, factors like dietary phytates and oxalates can limit how much your body absorbs ( 2Trusted Source ).
Magnesium sulfate is valuable as a magnesium supplement, but some people report that magnesium is better absorbed in an Epsom salt bath than when taken orally.
This claim is not based on any available evidence.
Proponents of the theory point to an unpublished study of 19 healthy people. The researchers reported that all but three of the participants experienced increased blood magnesium levels after soaking in the Epsom salt bath.
However, no statistical tests were performed and the study did not have a control group (3).
As a result, his conclusions were unfounded and highly questionable.
Researchers agree that magnesium is not absorbed through the human skin, at least not in scientifically valid amounts ( 1Trusted Source ).
Helps to reduce stress and sleep
Magnesium helps your brain produce neurotransmitters that promote sleep and reduce stress, so getting enough magnesium is important for sleep and stress management ( 4Trusted Source ).
Magnesium helps your body produce melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep ( 5Trusted Source ).
Low magnesium levels can negatively affect sleep quality and stress. Some people claim that taking an Epsom salt bath can cure these problems by allowing your body to absorb the magnesium through your skin.
The soothing effect of an Epsom salt bath is likely due to the relaxation that comes with being in a hot bath.
Helps with constipation
Magnesium is often used to treat constipation.
It draws water into your colon, which promotes bowel movements ( 6Trusted Source , 7Trusted Source ).
In most cases, magnesium is taken orally as magnesium citrate or magnesium hydroxide to relieve constipation.
However, the use of Epsom salts is not well researched but is believed to be effective. However, the FDA considers it a proven sedative.
It can be taken orally with water according to the instructions on the package.
Adults are usually advised to dissolve 2-6 teaspoons (10-30 grams) of Epsom salt in at least 8 ounces (237 ml) of water and drink it straight away. You can expect a calming effect within 30 minutes to 6 hours.
You should be aware that using Epsom salts can cause unpleasant side effects such as bloating
d liquid stool (7Trusted Source).
It should only be used occasionally as a laxative, not for long-term relief.
Exercise Performance and Recovery
Some people claim that taking Epsom salt baths can reduce muscle soreness and relieve cramps — both important factors for exercise performance and recovery.
It is well known that adequate magnesium levels are helpful for exercise because magnesium helps your body use glucose and lactic acid (8Trusted Source).
While relaxing in a hot bath may help soothe aching muscles, there is no evidence that people absorb bathwater magnesium through their skin (1Trusted Source).
On the other hand, oral supplements can effectively stave off magnesium insufficiency or deficiency.
Athletes are prone to low magnesium levels, so health professionals often recommend that they take magnesium supplements to ensure optimal levels.
While magnesium is clearly important for exercise, the use of bath salt to enhance fitness is not well researched. At this point, the supposed benefits are purely anecdotal.
Reduced Pain and Swelling
Another common claim is that Epsom salt helps reduce pain and swelling.
Many people report that taking Epsom salt baths improves symptoms of fibromyalgia and arthritis.
Again, the magnesium is deemed responsible for these effects, since many people with fibromyalgia and arthritis are deficient in this mineral.
One study in 15 women with fibromyalgia concluded that applying magnesium chloride to the skin may be beneficial for reducing symptoms (9Trusted Source).
However, this study was based on questionnaires and lacked a control group. Its results should be taken with a grain of salt.