Benefits of Epsom Salt
The benefits of epsom salts have been valued since the 1700s and their soothing nature, when added to a warm bath, is easily appreciated. Epsom salt is named for the area where it was originally discovered: Epsom, England.
Magnesium is needed in over 300 enzymes to complete bodily functions. It aids in our calcium absorption and about half of our magnesium is stored in our teeth & bones. Unfortunately, most American adults are deficient in this mineral.
The medical community has long been benefiting from magnesium when given IV. Women have been treated for eclampsia, and it has been effective in treating heart arrhythmis, cholesterol, stroke, and blood pressure.
Be careful of other products or advise articles suggesting that a benefit of epsom salt is their ability to "detoxify" or that their mecahnism of action is via osmosis. To say something detoxifies is rather vague, what is being detoxed? Some products use this claim to make it sound more therapeutic than it really is.
A better description may be to say that an agent helps to eliminate waste products. In general, most of these areas of study involving "detox" or "cleansing" simply do not have enough (if any) scientific data to support the claim.
It has been hypothesized that magnesium has a much higher affinity for carbons atoms instead of sulfate. Once magnesium sulfate is absorbed, the magnesium releases the sulfate in exchange for a carbon atom of a waste byproduct. In this manner magnesium may help to cleanse the body via waste removal through the kidneys.
People have been seeking the benefits of epsom salt to use as a sort of "hydro-therapy" for many years. The combination of a warm bath with epsom salt leaves users claiming reduced aches, pains and swelling. Does the epsom salt have anything to do with it?
Fortunately, a study conducted in 2006 on the absorption of magnesium sulfate across the skin demonstrated that blood levels of both magnesium and sulfate were increased in individuals who had epsom salt baths. Dr RH Waring from the School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, UK, had 19 subjects take 12 minute epsom salt baths for 7 days and her study suggests that most people would "find maximal benefit by bathing 2 or 3 times/week, using 500-600g Epsom salt each time." http://www.epsomsaltcouncil.org/articles/report_on_absorption_of_magnesium_sulfate.pdf
An additional benefit of epsom salt is that it acts as an anti-bacterial agent. Epsom salt may be able to pull water from the bacteria and cause them to dehydrate. This occurs through the osmotic effect of epsom salt and creates an environment inhospitable to micro-organisms. This may be helpful for minor topical wounds but not for deep puncture wounds which may be too deep to a soak to reach.
We will continue to follow the research as it unfolds. In the mean time, your benefits of Epsom salt can be enjoyed in the privacy of your home to relax, destress and support your body's mineral content.