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How Do Epsom Salts Reduce Swelling?

author image Leigh Good
Leigh Good has been writing for magazines and newspapers for more than 10 years. Her work has been published in numerous print and online publications. Good has a bachelor's degree in print journalism from Georgia State University.
How Do Epsom Salts Reduce Swelling?
Soak injured feet in Epsom salt to reduce swelling. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

Epsom salt is made from magnesium sulfate, a naturally occurring mineral that is often used to soak swollen, injured muscles. You can purchase Epsom salt over the counter at any drugstore or grocery store. If you have a muscular injury that is causing pain and swelling, talk to your doctor about whether you should try soaking the injury in a solution of Epsom salt and warm water.

How It Works

Soaking your swollen body parts in an Epsom salt solution combats inflammation because the magnesium in the salts reduce swelling. Magnesium is an essential mineral that can be taken internally or applied topically to lessen inflammation and swelling, reports Health Quest. Inflammation typically causes a depletion of magnesium, so as your body absorbs magnesium from Epsom salts, the magnesium works to combat the inflammation. Taking an Epsom salt bath is one of the most effective ways of getting magnesium into your body, according to the Epsom Salt Council.

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Wellington Chiropractic recommends soaking in an Epsom salt bath after running or extensive exercise. An Epsom salt bath may help prevent inflammation and irritation in your joints and muscles. You can use a warm Epsom salt water solution to treat injuries such as sprains and strains as well as any sore muscles.


To soak your entire body in an Epsom salt solution, fill your bathtub with warm water and add 2 cups of Epsom salt. Stir to dissolve, then soak in the tub as you would normally. You can also use Epsom salt to make a warm compress to put on an injury. Just dissolve 2 cups of Epsom salt in a gallon of warm water, then use the solution to moisten a towel. Wrap the warm, wet towel around your injured body part.


Epsom salt has a strong laxative effect when taken internally. If you make a solution of water and Epsom salt, keep the mixture away from small children and pets who may accidentally ingest the solution. If your child or pet does drink some of the solution, call a doctor, vet or poison control. Some people are allergic to magnesium sulfate. If you experience shortness of breath, facial swelling or hives after using Epsom salt, discontinue use and call your doctor.

Other Health Benefits

The magnesium found in Epsom salt is an electrolyte that can promote healthy muscle and nerve function. Since a soak in Epsom salt water relieves swelling and draws out toxins, soaking may also benefit migraine headaches, asthma and fibromyalgia pain.

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