Epsom Salt Uses for Health, Beauty and Others: Hope, Hype, or Hoax?

himalayan salt grains

Featured Image Pompi via Pixabay

Soak your feet in Epsom Salt.

Have you tried an Epsom Salt bath?

Epsom Salt will help that.

Chances are, you've probably heard one of these suggestions when you have some sort of ailment.

I'm glad you asked:

Because in some cases, it works.

In fact:

The many health claims and the long list of Epsom salt uses are driving up the demand for this product.

It is not surprising that drugstores have their shelves lined with Epsom salt. Uses for this compound varies from health to beauty, and even a fun afternoon with your children.

Have you ever wondered why Epsom salt is hip again?

It has been a home remedy for quite some time, but we have seen renewed interest in the product of late. Before you learn what it may do, though, first you should understand what it is.

Understanding Epsom Salt

Chemistry geeks call it magnesium sulfate. The rest of us call it Epsom salt.

salt in light blue and orange colors

Photo by Mareefe from Pexels

This compound, which is commonly used in bath salts, are inorganic. That means that it does not have hydrocarbons in it.

It is also not considered as a true salt. It gets its name because of its chemical structure qualifies it as a one.

That's not all:

The Epsom part of its name comes from a place in the United Kingdom where the compound is naturally abundant and where it was first discovered.

How Does Epsom Salt Work?


Epsom salt is soluble in water, and as it dissolves, it releases both magnesium and sulfate ions. This process will supply your body with the much-needed magnesium and sulfate.

So, how does that help you?

The general thought is that your body will absorb these ions through the skin.

1kg of epsum salt

Advocates say that you are stocking up on both magnesium and sulfates when you have an Epsom salt bath. -- Image by Nick Cheney via flickr

You can also apply it topically or ingest it.

However, don't get it twisted:

Epsom salt is not the same as table salt.

So, don't sprinkle it on your food.

Epsom salt has a different chemical structure than ordinary table salt. As mentioned above, Epsom salt has magnesium and sulfur ions, while the one you have in your kitchen is made up of sodium and chlorine ions.

salted french fries

Don't put Epsom salt on your fries! -- Image by GregReese via Pixabay

You cannot substitute table salt if you want to get the benefits of Epsom salt.  As you will see later on with our list of Epsom salt uses, the reason why magnesium sulfate is effective is because of the ions it contains.

History of Epsom salt

The discovery of Epsom salt has been mostly accidental.

It's true:

A farmer named Henry Wickes just wanted to get water for his animals during one dry summer in the 1600s. He found a small hole with water decided to dig it up. However, the water he got from it was bitter, and the cattle will not drink it.

It may have been first used in the UK, but most of the Epsom salt we buy now comes from China, Germany, or Pakistan.

view of a city near ashley centre

The discovery of wells filled with water infused with Epsom salt made the town a spa destination. Epsom was visited by people from all over England. -- By Oscar248 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via wikimedia

For some reason, the people then started believing that it was some sort of medicinal water and used it for bathing

And, that's not all:

They used to water to cure open sores and muscle aches. It was only years later when Lord Dudley North started suggesting that you can safely take it internally.

Ways Epsom Salt Can Make You Healthier

There are many benefits when you use Epsom salt.

Watch the video below to learn about some of them:

But of course, let's see what the various studies say.

Stress and anxiety


When you become stressed, the level of magnesium ion in your body decreases and your adrenaline increases.

Yes!

Here's how:

The magnesium component of Epsom salt can, therefore, help you relax and deal with anxiety.

Magnesium is needed in more than 300 metabolic processes in the body.

You read that right.

Magnesium can also help relieve your stress by encouraging your body to produce serotonin, which makes you feel calm and relaxed.

Magnesium also has a significant role in the generation of energy in cells, which lessens anxiety and restlessness.

red pencil with stress note

The magnesium in Epsom salt can help you fight stress and anxiety. -- Image by pedrofigueras via Pixabay

Pain and spasms


We sometimes suffer from muscle cramps and sore muscles. Good thing that pain relief is one of the best-known uses for Epsom salt.

man experience a muscle cramp while running gif

Muscle cramps? Get soothing relief with Epsom salt! -- via GIPHY

The analgesic effects of Epsom salts have been known for more than a century.

In the 1910s, Col. RD Rudol wrote in the Canadian Medical Association Journal how magnesium sulfate has proven effective in gonorrheal epididymitis, orchitis, rheumatism, neuritis, and other inflammatory diseases.

Aside from curing the pain, Epsom salt also controls and heals the inflammation itself.

It's great for tennis elbow as well.

Check out the video below:

And it is not just sore muscles.

That's right. Are you a migraine sufferer?

We have good news!

It can also help with migraines.

Watch the video below for more information:

There is also evidence that magnesium sulfate can block the receptors in nerves that regulate pain.

You can buy Epsom salt from most drugstores and supermarkets. In pharmacies, you can find it in the laxative section, or where you can find bandages and aspirin.

Who knew that pain relief is one of the many uses for Epsom salt!

Blood circulation


Magnesium is one of the essential minerals that help you control blood pressure.

It's true!

According to Harvard Medical School, magnesium makes your blood vessels relax. It also helps to transport potassium and calcium, the two other minerals that are important for healthy blood circulation.

human heart blood flow

Magnesium makes your blood flow easier. -- By Bryan Brandenburg, CC BY-SA 3.0

Magnesium also helps in dissolving blood clots.

Nope, we aren't done yet:

Magnesium can help fight the calcification of arteries.

Blood glucose


Magnesium has also been tested, and researchers found that it has some benefits in regulating blood sugar.

diabetic test using a diabetes tester

Want another example of uses for Epsom salt? How about controlling your blood sugar. -- Image by TesaPhotography via Pixabay

What's more, both magnesium and sulfate ions have been shown to help with glucose intake and the secretion of insulin, making it easier to prevent diabetes from developing.

Detoxification


Cleansing your body is probably the most talked-about of all the ways to use Epsom salt.

The sulfate ion in this compound helps in removing toxins and heavy metals from your cells.

A lengthy soak is said to rid your whole body of toxins.

Additionally, Epsom salt is an excellent saline laxative, removing the bacteria found in your intestines and can be used to fight constipation.

It also increases the amount of water in your intestines, making it easier for you to pass waste materials out of your body.

How to Treat Constipation with Epsom Salt

For children 12 years or older and adults, you can dissolve around two to four teaspoons of Epsom salt in eight ounces of water. Drink the mixture once you mix it.

For kids from six to 11 years old, dissolve a teaspoon or two of Epsom salt in eight ounces of water.

If you still have not gone to the bathroom after four hours of drinking this mixture, you can prepare and drink Epsom salt mixture again.

General reminders:

  • It might taste terrible, but the mixture will help you with constipation
  • You should drink no more than 16 ounces of Epsom salt mixture day 
  • You should not do this without first consulting your doctor

Further, magnesium helps your body's detoxification systems do its job as it produces the energy carrying adenosine triphosphate. ATP is used by these systems to pump out the toxins.

Splinters


This is an odd one:

It can help remove splinters.

Splinters can range anywhere from mildly annoying to very painful.

Good news: you can quickly draw out splinters using Epsom salt.

Some of the most common home remedies that you can try to take out splinters painlessly.

Epsom salt is number two.

Add Epsom Salt to Your Beauty Regimen

There are several Epsom salt for beauty.

See the video below for more on that:

Yes, the affordable magnesium sulfate can help make you more beautiful.

Perhaps, better than cosmetics.

For example:

It can give your hair more volume. So if you're tired of flat hair, get Epsom salt now.

flower dropping its white pollen

Image: via Pixabay

Further, it provides much-needed relief for sunburned skin or bug bites.

It can also help chapped or dry lips. It can even make pedicures more luxurious.

Go all out and indulge in a deep cleaning facial with Epsom salt.

Lastly, if you have rough skin, you can use Epsom salt to smooth it all away!

epson salt inforaphic

Make Your Plants Healthier

What will happen if you add Epsom salt to plants?

This is really cool:

According to the Epsom Salt Council, it makes your plants more lush and healthier.

Further, they claim Epsom salt can make fruits sweeter and more nutritious.

That's not the only thing:

It can even help plants absorb nutrients from the soil a whole lot better.

In short, Epsom salt helps you plants be healthier, the leaves are greener, the fruits sweeter, and the flowers bloom more fully.

The science behind it


How does Epsom salt make your plants healthier? It provides the needed nutrients without harmful effects.

Magnesium is an essential nutrient for plants.

How so?

Magnesium is needed for chlorophyll to form. The leaves of a plant that lacks this element will turn yellow.

person holding a big yellow leaf

Interveinal chlorosis is when the veins of the leaves stay healthy while the tissues turn yellow and dry out. The lack of magnesium causes it. -- Photo by Mark Tacatani from Pexels

Not only that, but:

Sulfur is also essential for plant nutrition. The problem is that sulfur often reacts with water in the soil and forms sulfuric acid. This process makes the ground even more acidic.

shovel dug on a dirt

Acidic soil can negatively affect the growth of plants. -- Photo by Lukas from Pexels

In this scenario, Epsom salt comes in handy: the sulfate ions in this compound does not make the soil acidic.

Busting the myths of Epsom salt uses in gardening


Here are some unsubstantiated claims by organizations such as the Epsom Salt Council and others.

Using Epsom Salt in Your Garden:
The Myths and the Truth

Myth

Truth

Can make seeds germinate
Viable seeds need oxygen and water to grow, nothing else.
Makes your plants bushier and produce more flowers
These claims are not backed by comparative treatment since magnesium and sulfate are naturally found in soil. Meaning, a plant having more leaves and flowers might be getting all that added foliage even under normal conditions.
Helps the plant produce more flowers
Magnesium and sulfur do not affect flower production. If you the plant has many blooms, make sure that you water your plants and keep the temperatures at the right level.
Helps your plants produce more chlorophyll
The amount of available light will help with chlorophyll production. Putting in more magnesium will not have this desired effect.
Keeps slugs, voles, and other pests away.
Studies have shown that magnesium deficient plants are more resistant to pests.
You need fewer fertilizers
Epsom salt does not have phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen, and other essential nutrients found in fertilizers so it cannot be used as a substitute.
You can use as much Epsom salt as you want
You can damage your plants when you put in too much magnesium sulfate.

The skinny on Epsom salt uses for plants


There is no question that Epsom salt can make your plants healthier.

However, these benefits are more readily seen when you use Epsom salt on plants that suffer from magnesium deficiency.

Gardeners should test the soil they have to know for sure if it lacks magnesium before using Epsom salt on their plants.

You should also avoid using Epsom salt if the earth has high salinity levels.

epsom salt

You should only use Epsom salt when the soil has low levels of magnesium.

What about cases wherein the ground has the right levels of magnesium, but have insufficient sulfur?

Skip the Epsom salt and use ammonium sulfate, a well-known fertilizer, instead.

Fun: Arts and Crafts with Epsom Salt

If you like to create, then you will love Epsom salt.

Epsom salt to spice up the holidays.


One of the more surprising Epsom salt uses is that you can add these to your holiday decors.

You can get some quick and nifty ideas in the video below:

DIY candle luminary


You can glue Epsom salt on the outside of candle holders to help give your room a softer glow.

You can further use it to add a touch of color to boring transparent candle holders.

Check out the video below:

Help kids create snow scenes


With its white and sheeny appearance, Epsom salt can make beautiful ice art.

Or have them create full-color scenes using colored salts.

Crystalizing watercolors


A watercolor art with textures?

You can use Epsom salt for that!

watercolor painting

Give your watercolor paintings great texture with Epsom salt. -- Photo by Steve Johnson from Pexels

And here's how you do it:

Glistening candles


Make an ordinary candle sparkle.

Watch the video below to learn how:

Frosted windows


Give your windows a winter look even in the middle of summer!

How to Use Epsom Salt

First things first:

Can you eat Epsom salt?

Yes.

You, however, should take precautions not to ingest too much of it because you might suffer from magnesium toxicity.

Adults can safely ingest 350 milligrams of magnesium per day.

Different ways of using Epsom salt


There are different ways of using magnesium sulfate.

You can include it in your bath.

Or, you can turn it into a paste.

Further, you can use it with lotion or as a facial scrub.

Bath soak

How long should you soak in an Epsom salt bath?

The answer depends mainly on what your goal is.

Bath salts usually have Epsom salt as one of its components.

To make it easier, here is a cheat sheet:

The Epsom Salt Soak Guide and Cheat Sheet

Benefits
Duration of bath soak

How it works

Soft skin
20 minutes
May soften your skin, reduce inflammation and reinforces your skin's barrier to keep the moisture in.
Muscle pain and soreness
12 minutes
Reduces inflammation, alleviates muscles tensions and aches. Might also reduce muscle cramps.
Anti-stress and relaxation
60 minutes
Can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Laxative
20 minutes
Bowel movement may happen anywhere from 30 minutes to six hours after dosing.
Ingrown toenails
12 minutes
Reduces pain and inflammation
Magnesium balance
12 to 20 minutes
Might restore the balance of magnesium in your body

 Epsom salt uses: paste

Epsom salt can be turned into a paste by adding water to it in a ratio of 2:1. For instance, you mix half a cup of water to one cup of magnesium sulfate.

salt

To make a paste, just add water to your Epsom salt! -- Photo by Jason Tuinstra on Unsplash

Epsom salt paste can draw out splinters.

Further, you can add a few drops of lavender essential oil if you want to make your Epsom salt paste even more effective for muscle tightness

extract liquid of an aromatherapy in a bottle

Put some lavender essential oil into your Epsom salt paste. This concoction will help your muscles relax. -- by Mareefe via Pexels

Beauty recipes with Epsom salt


How do you skip a trip to the salon with Epsom salt? Here's another cheat sheet!

What you need

What to do

Give body to your hair and get rid of excessive oils
Mix equal parts of your hair conditioner and Epsom salt, then massage the mixture into your hair. After 20 minutes, wash it all off.
Facial scrub
Mix around half to one teaspoon of Epsom salt with your favorite skin cleaning cream. Massage into your face with circular movements.
Soften callused feed
Put in half a cup of Epsom salt in a tub of water and soak your feet for 15 minutes.
Moisturize your lips
Add a one to two tablespoons of Epsom salt to petroleum jelly. Apply to your lips and wipe off.
Get relief from sunburn
Dissolve two tablespoons of magnesium sulfate in a cup of water and then put the mixture in a spray bottle. Give the affected area a generous spritz to reduce irritation.
Relief from bug bites
Prepare the same solution as the one used for sunburn and then use a washcloth to apply the mixture to the bite.
Body scrub
Mix two tablespoons of Epsom salt into your body wash and massage it all over your body.

8 Warnings When Using Epsom Salt

  • 1
    Epsom salt is generally safe to use. However, if you are ingesting it, do make sure that you keep these in mind:
  • 2
    Epsom salt has a laxative effect. It might cause an upset stomach, abdominal discomfort, bloating, and diarrhea.
  • 3
    Ingesting too much Epsom salt has some very serious side effects, including cardiac arrest.
  • 4
    Epsom salt poisoning is characterized by confusion, limb weakness, and vomiting.
  • 5
    If you have kidney disease, then know the adverse side effects of Epsom salt are less likely to be experienced by those with normal renal function.
  • 6
    Some people are allergic to Epsom salts. Some signs to look out for: rashes, itchiness or swelling of the face, lips, or tongue, hives, and difficulty breathing.
  • 7
    Magnesium can lower blood pressure. It relaxes your blood vessels.  Ingesting too much Epsom salt might cause your blood pressure to drop.  Hypotension can lead to dizziness or shock.
  • 8
    Always consult with your doctor. It never hurts to discuss your intention to use Epsom salt for any condition you have with a healthcare professional. This way, you can be guided on everything from dosage, interactions with other medications, and other safety precautions.

For instance, even if Epsom salt has shown promise in controlling blood sugar levels, it is still not advisable for a diabetic person to have a foot soak using it.

Other reminders


When used to promote healthier plants, be sure not to overdo it.

Too much Epsom salt can cause salt injury.

There is also a possibility that your plants' growth might be negatively affected by Epsom salt.

When gardening, you should only add Epsom salt when necessary. A review of studies has shown that Epsom salt only benefits plants that lack in magnesium.

Does Epsom salt really work?


Epsom salt.

Essential oils.

And others.

These potentially helpful substances that can positively impact our health may not be widely recommended because there is still no conclusive studies that prove that they do what people say they do.

Magnesium is among the most abundant essential minerals in the human body.

Many of the studies you will find on the benefits of Epsom salt touches on the effects of magnesium on the body. Even so, the results might be positive, but these effects need to be studied further.

One of the biggest criticisms against Epsom salt is that there is no proof that it gets into your system by soaking your foot or any part of your body in it.

Here's why:

The reason for this that your skin is designed to keep different substance out and it does not let just anything in.

An estimated three in every four Americans are not getting their recommended dietary allowance when it comes to magnesium.

As such, soaking in an Epsom salt solution will not bring magnesium into your body.

But, I felt better after an Epsom salt foot soak?

The best evidence we have to prove that Epsom salt works are people who testify that it works.

However, this might be the placebo effect. These are the "benefits" you get that is not because of Epsom salt. It may be your belief that you will get better or your trust in the treatment.

Should You Use Epsom Salt?

When you read the list of Epsom salt uses, you cannot help but think that it is a miracle cure. However, the studies done on the effects of Epsom salt on health and wellness are scarce and inconclusive.

Researching for articles that will provide scientific backing to all the claims can ultimately be frustrating or disappointing.

There are very few studies done involving Epsom salt, and most of the "benefits" it supposedly offers come from magnesium.

Maybe researchers ignored Epsom salt because everybody "just knew" what it is used for. The body of literature does say that Epsom salt is an excellent laxative.

Science has proven that Epsom salt helped those with irregular heart rhythm, eclampsia, low blood magnesium, and severe tetanus.

As such:

There is no concrete proof that Epsom salt really does what supporters are saying it will do.

But what's more perplexing is that nobody is sure if you are absorbing magnesium when you use Epsom salt through your skin. While everyone who is singing praises for Epsom salts says that it "sucks the toxins out," there is no proof that your body does pull in magnesium from the soak.

But don't snub Epsom salt just yet...

Epsom salt is generally safe. If you do not have impaired kidney function, then you might want to try out soaking your feet or whole body in a salt bath.

Ingesting Epsom salt is an entirely different matter, however. Because it is a laxative, eating Epsom salt is not recommended. Plus too much Epsom salt in your body might lead to magnesium toxicity.

Remember:

The information contained herein should not be taken as medical advice. Always consult your doctor if you have health conditions that you will like to try treating using Epsom salt.

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