What could be better than a nice, hot soak after a long, hard day of.... anything?! How about a nice, hot soak in a bathtub with Epsom Salt? That is, if you're not walking distance from a natural mineral hot spring. And, since I am no longer residing at a hot springs retreat center in the Sierras, I take a lot of Epsom Salt baths.
This long standing folk remedy (the name comes from the mineral rich waters of Epsom, England - where the salts were known at least as far back as Shakespeare’s time) for aching muscles is very inexpensive and available at most supermarkets and drug stores.
The scientific name for Epsom Salt is magnesium sulfate heptahydrate (MgSO4·7H2O). And apparently, soaking in a tub with it increases the body's levels of both magnesium and sulfate.
According to the Epsom Salt Council (yes, there is one), magnesium, a major component of Epsom Salt, helps to regulate the activity of more than 325 enzymes and performs a vital role in orchestrating many bodily functions, from muscle control and electrical impulses to energy production and the elimination of harmful toxins.
Here are some more benefits of magnesium:
• Improves heart and circulatory health, reducing irregular heartbeats, preventing hardening of the arteries, reducing blood clots and lowering blood pressure.
• Improves the body's ability to use insulin, reducing the incidence or severity of diabetes.
• Flushes toxins and heavy metals from the cells, easing muscle pain and helping the body to eliminate harmful substances.
• Improves nerve function by regulating electrolytes. Also, calcium is the main conductor for electrical current in the body, and magnesium is necessary to maintain proper calcium levels in the blood.
• Relieves stress. Excess adrenaline and stress are believed to drain magnesium, a natural stress reliever, from the body. Magnesium is necessary for the body to bind adequate amounts of serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of well being and relaxation.
And of sulfates:
While increasing your magnesium levels, Epsom Salt also delivers sulfates, which are extremely difficult to get through food, but which readily absorb through the skin. Sulfates serve a wide variety of functions in the body, playing a vital role in the formation of brain tissue, joint proteins and the mucin proteins that line the walls of the digestive tract. Sulfates also stimulate the pancreas to generate digestive enzymes and are believed to help detoxify the body's residue of medicines and environmental contaminants.
That's a lot of info. All's I know is that the soak feels great, softens the skin, and it's cheap and easy to find.
Use at least 2 cups to a full tub, and soak at least 15-20 minutes. I recommend moisturizing with coconut oil after the bath.
(Remember, I'm not a doctor, so if you have any health concerns, consult a doctor before using home remedies.)
Bonus: you can also use Epsom Salt in the garden! Read this for more info.