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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?
A warm bath with Epsom salt is often recommended for recovery. Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/ Images

Epsom salt, or magnesium sulfate, is dissolved in warm water and used for therapeutic soaks and baths. A study at the University of Birmingham showed that magnesium is able to diffuse through the skin in a hot bath, and magnesium has been associated with cellular events in the inflammation response. (ref#1 and ref#2) Water with dissolved Epsom salt can also draw water out of a surface edema. (ref# 3)

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Reducing Swelling

Magnesium is a mineral that is associated with muscle and nerve function. It has been suggested that concentrations of magnesium in the tissue between cells affects enzymes that control swelling and inflammation. When magnesium diffuses through the skin during soaking, the extracellular magnesium increases and could decrease the inflammatory response. (ref#2) Salty water is also able to draw out the liquid from a surface edema through osmosis, causing the water to diffuse from the edema into the salty water. (ref#3)

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