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How Epsom Salt Works

by
author image Cheryl Jones
A medical writer for 25 years, Cheryl Jones assists researchers in writing articles for various medical journals, including the "New England Journal of Medicine" and "Headache." Her news articles have appeared in specialty publications, such as "Infectious Diseases in Children," "Ocular Surgery News" and "Hem/Onc Today." Jones holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism with a minor in biology from New Jersey's Glassboro State College.
How Epsom Salt Works
Soaking in Epsom salt lessens stress and promotes well-being. Photo Credit milk bath image by forca from Fotolia.com

Epsom salt is the overachiever of the mineral world. The naturally occurring mineral crystals help heal aches, improve digestion, expel toxins, relieve stress and prevent circulatory problems. Simply soaking in a warm bath with Epsom salt enables your skin to absorb the minerals.

Description

Epsom salt is composed of magnesium and sulfate, says the Epsom Salt Council. The mineral crystals occur naturally. The body needs magnesium to regulate enzymes and to control muscles and electrical nerve impulses. Cells require magnesium for energy. Sulfates are important in forming proteins in the brain, joints and intestinal lining.

Benefits

Epsom salt has a multitude of uses. Epsom salt baths relieve stress and muscle soreness and cramps, notes Saltworks. The minerals reduce inflammation and improve nerve and muscle function, as well as improve digestion and aid in nutrient absorption. Baths with the minerals may improve circulation and reduce the risk of hardening of the arteries and heart attacks. Taken internally, Epsom salt relieves constipation. Sulfates improve digestion and help rid the body of toxins and heavy metals. The Epsom Salt Council adds that some parents of children with autism use Epsom salt baths to calm their children before bed to improve sleep.

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Epsom salt acts in various ways to produce benefits. Stress depletes magnesium and raises adrenaline levels, says Saltworks. Epsom salts replace magnesium, which stimulates the production of serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical in the brain. Serotonin promotes feelings of well-being and calmness. Magnesium regulates the electrolyte balance in the body, restoring proper nerve and muscle function. The body requires magnesium to use calcium, a primary conductor of electrical impulses. An Epsom salt bath draws toxins out of the body, says Saltworks.

Dietary Sources

Magnesium and sulfates are readily absorbed through the skin, says the Epsom Salt Council. Magnesium can be obtained through diet, but many factors, such as certain foods, medications or individual stomach acids, can block magnesium uptake. Sulfates are largely unattainable through diet.

Use

Bathe in Epsom salts three times a week, advises Saltworks. Add a cup of Epsom salt to warm bathwater and soak for at least 12 minutes. Avoid using soap, which could interfere with the action of the salts. For maximum benefit, rest for two hours after your bath. For a soothing foot soak, add a half cup of Epsom salts to a basin of warm water. Soak feet for 20 minutes. Epsom salt may be taken as a laxative, but consult your health care provider before using.

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References

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