Epsom salt was first discovered bubbling up from an underground spring in the early 17th century. Local farmers noticed wounds healing on the legs of cattle that waded in the water. Soon people began flocking to the underground springs for its healing powers.
What is Epsom Salt?
Epsom salt is not actually salt at all. The minerals magnesium and sulfate form the mineral compound. It is widely believed to have been discovered in Epsom, England. Hence the name Epsom salt.
Benefits of Epsom Salt Baths
Multiple benefits come from taking an Epsom salt bath. Most of the benefits come from the absorption of magnesium. Magnesium is a necessary mineral that helps multiple body systems, including the brain, respiratory system, muscles, and immune system. Dry brushing before soaking in an Epsom salt bath may help maximize the benefits.
Low levels of magnesium may cause anxiety. Soaking in an Epsom salt bath promotes relaxation while the magnesium may help to reduce stress.
Decrease Muscle Aches and Pains
Magnesium deficiency is directly related to muscle cramps. Evidence has shown that soaking in Epsom salt baths will decrease inflammation and muscle pain.
Studies show that bathing in magnesium-rich salts promotes skin hydration, decreases inflammation, and improves the skin barrier.
There is a positive correlation between sleep and blood magnesium levels. Magnesium promotes GABA. GABA is an acid that can be found in the nervous system. It helps to boost mood and calm the nervous system.
There is little research regarding the absorption rate of magnesium from an Epsom salt bath.
The effects of Epsom salt baths were studied in the United Kingdom. The study included 19 participants that soaked in Epsom salt baths. Specimens of blood and urine were collected from the participants, at specific intervals. The levels of both magnesium and sulfate were measured in the blood and urine of the participants. Both magnesium and sulfate levels were found to be increased in the blood and urine of all 19 participants.
Dr. Norman Shealy, MD, Ph.D., a holistic practitioner, believes magnesium supplements are better absorbed through the skin than by taking them orally.
There is no reason to think Epsom salt baths pose a risk to the healthy general public. Though you should always consult your personal healthcare provider before adding any type of medication or supplement into your routine. Additionally, if you have certain medical conditions or are taking medications you will want to check with your medical provider.
The absorption rate of transdermal magnesium is not thoroughly researched or understood. Therefore, I personally prefer to limit Epsom salt baths to no more than once a week.
Lastly, it is vital that you closely monitor your children to be sure they are not ingesting the bath water. The Federal Drug Administration has approved Epsom salt as a laxative. Therefore it is safe for consumption. However, ingesting the bath water may cause loose stools and electrolyte imbalances.
Are They Safe While Pregnant?
Epsom salt baths are usually safe during pregnancy. An Epsom salt bath may help with common pregnancy complaints. Muscle cramps, hemorrhoids, and stress can all be relieved with an Epsom salt bath. Before soaking in a bath confirm with your prenatal care provider that they are comfortable with you partaking in Epsom salt baths.
How To Prepare An Epsom Salt Bath
Pure Epsom salt is used to make an Epsom salt bath. To make an Epsom salt bath, you need to scoop the proper amount into a cup. Add the Epsom salt into the bath by slowly pouring it from the cup into the bath water, under the running spout. This will help to dissolve the flakes quicker.
Adults and children over 80 pounds of weight can add 1-2 cups of Epsom salt to warm bath water. Soak for 15-20 minutes then rinse. Remember to rehydrate after soaking in the bath.
It is important to stay well hydrated during pregnancy. I recommend drinking 8-12 oz of water prior to entering an Epsom salt bath and being sure to rehydrate again after the bath.
Pregnant women can add 1 cup of Epsom salt to warm bath water and soak for 15 minutes. It is important to pay careful attention that the bath water is not too warm. After soaking you will want to rinse with fresh water. Epsom salt can leave a white salty looking residue on your skin.
There is no research stating that Epsom salt baths may have a negative effect on the pregnant female or unborn child.
Children aged 4 and up can soak in Epsom salt baths.
I suggest starting with a small amount of Epsom salt and working your way up to 1/2 cup of Epsom salt. I like to start with 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt. When the child appears to be tolerating the baths well, without signs of hyperactivity or loose stools, you can double the amount of Epsom salt that you are adding to the bath water on the next bath. As the child tolerates the weekly Epsom salt baths you can continue to double the amount of Epsom salt that you are adding to the bath water. Once the child shows that they are tolerating 16 tablespoons or 1/3 cup of Epsom salt, you may move up to 1/2 cup of Epsom salt per weekly bath.
You may allow your child to soak in the bath for 15-20 minutes at a time. Monitor them closely to be sure they are not ingesting the bath water. Children should be provided with fresh water, to sip, during their bath. It is also important to have children rehydrate after their bath.
Buying Epsom Salt
When making an Epsom salt bath I prefer to use the cleanest products I can find. You can read here why it’s so important to me to research the products I use.
I like this one this from Amazon. It has the USP label, which means it is verified by the United States Pharmacopeia. It is produced without the use of genetically modified organisms and is organic.
I have used this organic Epsom salt as well.
How We Use Epsom Salt Baths
I prepare Epsom salt baths for my older kids as part of our weekly routine. My oldest will soak and enjoy his peaceful time in there while my younger son likes having a toy. We use toys to keep him entertained in the bath while he soaks.
My children instantly feel relaxed upon entering the water. We have found that they sleep better following an Epsom salt bath as well.
Are Epsom salt baths part of your weekly or monthly routine? If you have any questions or comments I would love to hear them!