This is one substance that has been largely taken for granted. It has been commonly used as a bath salt and as medication to treat skin inflammations such as localized infections or small boils. But Epsom salts offer a lot more benefits than we already know. It’s widely used for medical purposes to agricultural to household applications, and more.
What is Epsom Salt?
Epsom salts shouldn’t be confused with the traditional salt we are accustomed to. It’s a type of mineral compound of sulfate and magnesium, thus its chemical name, magnesium sulfate. Although it looks exactly like table salt because of its crystalline appearance, it’s completely different. Epsom salt is a nutrient that the body needs to be used for body functions. Through the years and, for some reason, a lot of us have been getting lower levels of this nutrient. Consider the following issues why there is a dwindling source of magnesium sulfate:
- For one, it has been extensively used for agricultural purposes. As more lands are developed for farming, essential minerals such as magnesium along with other types of trace elements are being used to improve crop growth.
- Using too many prescription medications which can contain magnesium sulfate.
- Consuming too many processed foods which contain magnesium sulfate.
All these factors contribute to the depletion of magnesium as a required nutrient. Aside from improving one’s health, Epsom salt has other health benefits which we will discuss later on.
Boosts the Levels of Sulfate and Magnesium
Both elements of Epsom salt, sulfate and magnesium are important to the body. Deficiencies in them could be potentially dangerous. Although sulfate deficiency is rare, the deficiency in magnesium is much more common and this is attributed factors like soil depletion and the increase in low-quality processed foods. The magnesium in water is also lost because of municipal treatment routines. Many illnesses can be traced back to a deficiency in magnesium and this can include type-2 diabetes, hypertension, and some heart diseases. One may need to make adjustments to his diet if he is deficient in both these minerals. Or the person can consider taking supplements. An Epsom salt bath can also help because the minerals can make their way through the skin during the bath. Such a relaxing luxury can be a preventative measure against mineral deficiency and the health problems they might create.
Relaxes the Body
Epsom salts are water-soluble, that means they can dissolve in water. Soaking one’s body in an Epsom salt bath makes an easy access for magnesium and sulfate to be absorbed into the body through the person’s skin and can immediately do their work inside the body. When inside, the magnesium ions will break away from the molecules of Epsom salt and start their work in relieving stress by enhancing serotonin production and reducing adrenaline’s effect on the body. Another function of magnesium is its vital role in energy production in the cells. This action will make us feel revitalized without causing any feelings of anxiety or restlessness.
If one should start to feel anxiety or is stressed out, he should immerse himself in an Epsom salt bath. It’s a quick remedy to relieve such stress by helping to balance electrolyte levels and promoting proper nerve functions. Magnesium is also responsible for maintaining hormone levels and neurotransmitter movements that are important in controlling the mood and overall attitude.
Relieve Cramping, Inflammation, and Pain
Epsom salt has been used for generations to help ease the pain caused by inflammations and cramps. Just a single bath in Epsom salts can already relieve the pain for hours. This is because of the soothing nature of the warm bath with the salt. As an added bonus, the bath can allow the person to fall asleep, giving the body the chance to heal itself.
In a bath, the Epson salts are absorbed directly into the body which makes it a faster and easier way to get relief from muscle tension, joint inflammation, and pain. Try submerging oneself in a warm bath with Epsom salts and experience its therapeutic effects. The person will get almost immediate relief from headaches or abdominal cramps, sore or tired feet, muscle tension, and more.
Enhances Blood Sugar Control
There are many disorders that are caused by insulin resistance and the most common of these are metabolic syndrome and type-2 diabetes. Diabetics usually experience spikes in their blood sugar levels after consuming sugary processed foods. These spikes can impair the body’s ability to properly regulate glucose. One nutrient that can help increase a person’s insulin sensitivity is magnesium because its presence can help the body control blood sugar levels thus reducing the risk of diabetes.
Again, Epsom salt baths are recommended because the magnesium can easily enter the body through the skin. Its presence, as discussed earlier, can help in controlling blood sugar. Of course, there is still no substitute for healthy living, where one eats healthy, sleep, and exercises enough. Consider the Epsom salt bath as an extra tool to make one feel better. Aside from magnesium, sulfate also contributes to improving the body’s capability to produce and utilize insulin. Regularly using Epsom salts, either through the skin or orally can help in regulating blood sugar, in lowering diabetes risk, and ultimately, improving the energy levels each and every day.
Naturally cleanses the face
Epsom salt can also be used as an excellent exfoliating agent. Moreover, it’s super simple to make the mixture. Just combine a teaspoon of the salt with a cleanser for a nightly treatment. Apply the mixture on the face then rinses after 15 minutes using lukewarm water. This is an excellent skin treatment with clarifying effects.
Epsom salt can remove dead cells from the skin and unsightly oils from the pores. To treat blackheads, one will need to first exfoliate dead skin cells from the surrounding areas of the blemishes. Then, make a mixture composed of a teaspoon of Epsom salt with a few drops of iodine and place this into a half cup of hot water. Stir the mixture until the salts have dissolved completely then let stand until it’s just warm. Massage this mixture into the areas of the skin with blackheads. Let it completely dry before washing it off with warm water. Finally, pat the face dry using a piece of cloth that’s clean.
Helps Relieve Constipation
One can also get relief from constipation using Epsom salt. Actually, it even has an FDA approval seal as a laxative to relieve one of constipation. Numerous studies have indicated that Epsom salt has great laxative properties. The magnesium ions in the compound can put forth an osmotic effect, causing water retention in the intestines, thus, increasing fluidity and resulting in the easier elimination of waste.
Most Epsom salt products already contain instructions on how one takes them internally to bring about its laxative effects. Just follow the directions by mixing the right amount of water and salt, then drink. Expect bowel movements within the next couple of hours. If digestive issues continue, there might be an underlying problem, like a leaky gut or an autoimmune condition. Consult with a doctor for tests to determine the source of the digestive issue.
Improves the quality of sleep
Do people want to get rid of their insomnia? Do they want to dream away in uninterrupted sleep? If so, try getting an Epsom salt bath just before going to bed. Magnesium in the salts, which is also found in our bodies, is linked to the production of neurotransmitters. These are chemical substances released by neurons to stimulate other neurons or muscle or gland cells. An excess of magnesium means that the body will be able to convert more serotonin, a hormone that aids in sleep and the regulation of the body’s circadian rhythms.
Promotes the Health of the Hair and Skin
There are several reasons why one should include Epsom salts in his personal care routine. We already have discussed its benefits when used as an additive in baths. One can also combine Epsom salts with a cleanser of choice and a carrier oil or simply moisten it with water to create a very effective facial and body scrub. Try the mixture to rid oneself of dead cells on the face and body. Exfoliation will result in the production of new cells which will give the person a healthy glow.
People who suffer from chronic disorders like psoriasis, acne, rosacea or eczema can also get relief from Epsom salt baths. Actually, it’s precisely what they need because the bath can stimulate circulations in the affected areas. This action can improve the healing rate, at the same time, improving the skin’s health by stripping away dead skin cells.
Epsom salt is also great for the hair. Mix equal amounts of hair conditioner and Epsom salts that have been warmed slightly. Apply to the hair to soften it and increase its volume. This is very effective especially for those whose hair is the oily type. For the best results, the person should massage the mixture into his hair and scalp. Wait for about 20 minutes or so before rinsing. One can even use Epsom salts as a natural hair spray. This is a simple procedure. Just combine equal amounts of Epsom salts and water along with some fresh lemon juice and pour this mixture in a spray bottle. Shake well then start spraying.
A couple of studies have shown that Epson salts can hasten the detoxifying ability of the body. That means, getting rid of toxins. Immersing oneself in an Epsom salt bath will have an impact on the electrolyte levels of the body. Toxins are eliminated at a faster rate if the body can process fluids with more efficiency. This will result in fewer toxins, thus, reducing inflammations at the same time aiding the immune system. During the bath, toxins are drawn out of the skin through reverse osmosis.
Soothe Skin Issues
When used as a paste, it decreases the reddening, reduces itchiness associated with insect bites. An Epsom bath will give relief to sore muscles. Or one can use a cold compress or an Epsom salt paste for achieving the same relief. The paste is also effective against poison ivy, poison oak, rashes, and sunburn. Making the paste is easy. Just dissolve a teaspoon of Epsom salts into a cup of hot water. Let cool in the fridge for about 20 minutes to speed up the process. Then apply as needed.
A person can even dislodge splinters using Epsom salts. Simply soak the affected area in warm water with Epsom salts for a few minutes. The magnesium sulfate in the salt will reduce the inflammation and will soften the splinter, making it easier to remove. The anti-inflammatory properties of the salts can alleviate the soreness caused by sprains and bruises. Just mix warm water with about two cups of Epsom salts. Immerse oneself into the bath and while away the pain. Salt scrubs are usually composed of the salt and an oil, like almond oil or olive oil. One can substitute the salt with magnesium-rich Epsom salts for an extra boost of magnesium. The resulting salt scrub will be an effective facial cleanser with an extra magnesium boost.
Helps Maintain the Health of the Nervous System
Since an Epsom salt bath can aid in the regulation of electrolyte, this could only mean that nerve functions will be improved in the body. Our nervous system depends upon the fluids in the body which are electrically-balanced so that they can effectively pass signals and messages. This would lead to better muscle functions as well as cognitive activity.
Cleanses the Hair for More Volume
Remove the build-up of styling products. The hair is subjected every day to the build-up of many chemicals like hair sprays and other styling products. One can remove this build-up by a preparation which contains Epsom salts. Mix a cup of lemon juice and Epsom salts in a gallon of water. Cover the concoction, let it sit for one whole day. The person can the mixture after the time elapsed by simply pouring it over his hair and leaving it for up to 20 minutes. Rinse and then use a conditioner.
To add volume to the hair, mix in equal parts Epsom salts and a deep conditioner that’s all-natural and sulfate-free. Make the mixture slightly warm just a bit above body temperature, and work this through the hair. Leave for up to 20 minutes before rinsing.
Many studies have shown that magnesium can help decrease the pain caused by headaches and migraines if used regularly. Other studies have also indicated that a deficiency of magnesium can cause headaches. Either taken orally or transdermally, magnesium can offer relief to pain. People who have hangovers because of their nights out swear that a dip in the ocean can cure their condition. There can be some truth in this since the ocean is magnesium-rich.
Keeps the Feet Healthy
Swollen feet can really be annoying, especially for pregnant women as well as those whose jobs keep them on their feet the whole day. Again, Epsom salts can help. One can either take an Epsom salt bath or simply soaking his feet in a small vat. The Epsom salts will definitely work their magic on the feet by reducing the swelling and easing the pain. For those who have been suffering from swollen feet for much longer, maybe he should consider trying a different pair of shoes.
So far, we have been discussing the benefits of Epsom salts in relieving a person from pains and aches. But Epsom salt can also be an effective treatment against athlete’s foot and toenail fungi infections. Again, the mixture is simple. Add half a cup in Epsom salts to warm water. Soak the feet for as long as needed or until the water gets cold. This treatment can alleviate the itching and burning associated with the conditions and can also help the feet heal faster.
Other Health Benefits
Simple as it may look, Epsom salt is a “miracle wonder” because of the many health benefits it has to offer. People have been using the salt for hundreds of years now, beginning with its discovery in Epsom, England at a bitter saline spring. Boiling the water from the spring produces the salt. Since then, the salt has been used for various applications.
Epsom salt can be used for beauty, health, and even gardening. After hundreds of years, man has found a multitude of applications for the incredible Epsom salt. It has been used in the treatment of many ailments, it has been used for aesthetic benefits and has been used in our very own homes. The compound is known as magnesium sulfate but is better referred to as Epsom salt. Don’t get confused about brand names because Epsom salt of different brands all come from the same compound.
It’s good for nerve and muscle functions. We have discussed, quite extensively, the role of Epsom salts in relieving pain, cramping, and tension. Magnesium sulfate actually offers more than that as it does have several good effects on our bodies. On a deeper subject, the compound helps out in several enzymatic functions, it aids in the fluid retention in our cells, facilitates the body’s utilization of calcium in the transmission of chemical signals all throughout the person’s nervous system.
Epsom salt is also important in improving the functioning of our circulatory system. Its presence in the body prevents the occurrences of cardiovascular disorders by decreasing inflammations and maintaining the elasticity of our blood vessels. If one has healthy arteries, there will be a lesser risk of getting blood clots and the build-up of plaque which could damage our artery walls. Make it a habit of soaking one’s body in an Epsom salt bath up to 4 times each week to help reduce stress and lower one’s blood pressure which will ultimately improve the cardiovascular health.
It’s not a good idea to indulge too much on foods that will raise the uric acid levels. This, of course, will result in the inflammation and swelling of joints, commonly known as gout. In case one has a gout attack, make a simple preparation. A few tablespoons of Epsom salts in hot water, then soak the parts of the body affected by gout. The magnesium sulfate will quickly soak through the skin and also into the joints which are swollen. This will surely alleviate the inflammation and pain.
Precautions and Potential Side Effects of Epsom Salt
Generally speaking, Epsom salt is a safe product. But just like any other substance, it has the potential to cause adverse side effects, especially when not taken or handled properly. Also, there are certain medications which might interact with Epsom salts. These include proton pump inhibitors or PPIs, diuretics, and even medications which are used in the treatment of osteoporosis. The magnesium content of Epsom salts may even interact with tetracycline and quinolone antibiotics. Therefore, if one is taking these medications, he should check with his doctor first before using Epsom salts. It’s also important to check with one’s health care provider for those who are pregnant, nursing or suffering from a chronic medical or health condition.
A lot of people enjoy Epsom salt baths and for good reason. Such baths provide a lot of health benefits but they do come with potential side effects including dehydration and diarrhea. However, as long as the person doesn’t take excessively frequent or long baths, these side effects may not be an issue. But let’s discuss these side effects anyway to make people more aware of them:
Dehydration. Too much exposure to Epsom salts may have a laxative effect on the person depending on the amount of magnesium sulfate his body absorbs. In some cases, this may result in diarrhea so it’s best not to soak in an Epsom salt bath for too long.
Diarrhea. When water has a very high salt content, this may soak the moisture from a person’s skin which, in turn, might have a dehydrating effect. Again, taking frequent or prolonged Epsom salt baths might lead to mild dehydration so it’s best to limit the frequency and time one soaks in such baths.
Worsen foot wounds. For those who have foot wounds caused or induced by diabetes, it’s not a good idea to soak in Epsom salt baths or Epsom salt foot soaks. The reason for this is that the Epsom salt might make the skin dry which may cause aggravation or irritation of the wound. This may also be true for other types of wounds so it’s best to avoid taking Epsom salt baths until such injuries have completely healed.
Home Uses for Epsom Salt
Aside from the health benefits of Epsom salts, one can also use this miracle product all around the home. Here are some household uses of Epsom salts:
For washing pots, pans, and dishes. Pour some Epsom salts into those tough-to-clean pots, pans, and dishes. Let sit for a moment before scrubbing them. The crystal salts have an abrasive texture which can help remove tenacious dirt easily without damaging the cookware.
Cleaning tiles . Prepare a mixture of equal parts of Epsom salts and a liquid dish detergent. The combination will make an extremely effective tile cleaner. Use the mixture on stained or dirty surfaces wherever applicable. Let the mixture soak for a few minutes before scrubbing away to loosen the grime. Rinse afterward.
Make a handwash. Combine equal parts of baby oil and Epsom salts. This will create a cleansing and moisturizing handwash. Store the solution in a bottle right next to the sinks at home. One can use this regularly to keep his hands smooth, clean, and soft.
Removes the build-up of detergent. We have all seen the scum build-up in our washing machines after long periods of time. This is actually caused by laundry detergents and other kinds of contaminants. Use Epsom salts to get rid of this gunk. If done, the person will see his washer run more efficiently. Just fill the washer with hot water. Then add a quart of vinegar and a cup of Epsom salts. Pour this into the machine and let it run for a minute or so. Leave the machine with the mixture for about one hour.
To give batteries a boost. The use of Epsom salts has had its share of controversy. One of this is its usage in restoring or enhancing car batteries. Some say adding a mixture of hot water and Epsom salts to weak or old batteries can enhance the performance. Before doing this, check the plates within the battery and make sure they have not been corroded. Also, check if the contact points which join the cells together are still in good condition. Otherwise, adding the Epsom salt mixture will result in nothing much. As a safety precaution, make sure to wear acid-proof clothing, goggles, and safety shoes. Also, work in an area that’s well-ventilated. Remember that when dealing with battery acids and anything could go wrong, especially if one has no experience in repairing or restoring batteries.
For the garden. Surprisingly, Epsom salts can be used as a fertilizer for the plants and the lawn, it can remove unwanted insect pests, and prevent slugs from eating up the garden. For the environmentally conscious, they should know that healthy plants indoors can help clean-up the air by absorbing carbon dioxide. That is one reason we keep them around. Like us, plants also need some magnesium boost every once in a while. Add a small amount of the salts during the regular fertilizing or watering routines. This will create more robust and healthier houseplants.
An effective fertilizer. Like us, plants do need their dose of magnesium to stay healthy and to carry out their functions to survive. Many soils don’t contain enough magnesium but this can be remedied using Epsom salts. Just provide the soil with a cup of Epsom salts for every 100 feet while turning the soil over before planting.
Use Epsom salts to fertilize the plants when it’s growing season. Just make a simple mixture by combining 1 or 2 teaspoons of the salt to a gallon of water. Pour this mixture on the plant’s base so it can go right to the roots. This is particularly great for peppers and tomatoes because they always require more magnesium. Apply this mixture to the plants every two weeks. Epsom salts can also be used on roses. Rather than applying this mixture, one can also add a teaspoon of the salt to the soil for each foot of plant growth. After this, one can continue with watering the plants.
Almost all garden plants can benefit by adding Epsom salts to their soil. Fruit trees, flower beds, and the lawn will perform much better when nourished with Epsom salts. Just find out about the plants one is raising and their Epsom salt requirements. In general, if the plants start to have curled or yellow leaves, one can attempt to revive them by adding Epsom salts in the soil or thru water mixtures.
Improve the germination of seeds. In case the starting seeds have a low viability, the seedlings aren’t strong enough or they tend to perish, Epsom salts might just be a cure for such problems. Through generations, gardeners have used Epsom salts to improve germination. It has also been observed that the seedlings are much sturdier when they emerge from the soil.
Epsom salt is composed of magnesium and sulfate. Both these minerals are needed by plants, especially on their germination stage. As seedlings start to emerge from the ground, they will need the minerals in higher quantities. One can provide this supplement. Mix a tablespoon of Epsom salts in a gallon of water and use this for watering the seeds when one first plants them.
Lessen transplant shocks. People usually start their plants in a seedling bed, waiting for them to germinate. At one point in time, they will need to be transplanted to a more permanent setting. It’s inevitable that one will lose some of these plants during transplanting. He can reduce such losses at the same time, accelerate the growth of seedlings by making use of Epsom salts. When planting new bushes or trees, soak the root ball of the plant in a gallon of water containing half a cup of Epsom salts. When transplanting plants from a container to the soil, water them using a mixture ratio of a tablespoon of Epsom salts to a gallon of water just after transplanting. This will lessen the shock of the plant’s roots and will improve the leaves’ ability to provide all the nutrients needed for the other parts of the plant. One can also apply a tablespoon of Epsom salts to each of the holes where the plants are to be moved. After adding, cover the hole with some soil then place the plants in the holes. As the plants grow, the roots will be able to reach the Epsom salts late in the growing season which is when they will need it the most.
Also, keep in mind that too much of a good thing can be harmful. The same is true for Epsom salts when used in gardening. Too much may cause harm to the plants. One will need to test the soil for its nutrient contents before he adds Epsom salts or any other fertilizer. Do this will ensure the right balance in the nutrient contents of soil rather than creating some harmful distractions.
Raccoon deterrent . Everybody loves raccoons, those lovable little-masked bandits we so love watching in our favorite cartoon shows. They are clever and have adorable fur patterns. In reality, raccoons are actually nuisances who ruin our gardens, scatter our garbage, and can even cause rabies. They’re really not that lovable and we want them away from our homes, the sooner the better. Epson salts can do the trick. To keep them away, just sprinkle the salts around the areas where they congregate or the areas one doesn’t want them to be. The person may have to add more during the rains because it’s the taste and smell of the Epsom salts that keep the raccoons at bay. If the person sprinkles salts around the garden’s borders, he will need to re-sprinkle after he waters the garden, especially if the salts are moistened.
Don’t underestimate raccoons because they are very clever. For instance, if the person was able to stop them from getting to their goal, they will find a new route to their destination. In combination with Epsom salts, one will need to find other ways to deter these bandits. Removing things which attract the raccoons can keep them at bay too. Also, observe the paths the animal takes and outwit them. In case one is at the losing end of this raccoon-initiated battle, then it’s time to seek professional assistance.