Do you love relaxing in a nice, warm bath at the end of the day? For many people, a bath is a chance to unwind, destress, and relax sore, tired muscles. For some with chronic pain and illness, it’s a necessary tool to help them to feel better and navigate their day-to-day life. There are many more than 3 reasons to take Epsom salts baths. But these are my favorites:
- They are calming to the nervous system
Epsom salts are made up of magnesium sulfate. Magnesium is a mineral that has calming, soothing effects on the nervous system. This means that taking in magnesium can help reduce anxiety, prevent headaches, lower stress levels, elevate depressed feelings, and promote restful sleep. Some people supplement with magnesium orally at night for these same reasons – but an Epsom salts bath is another way to bring magnesium on board.
2. They help to relax smooth and skeletal muscles
Magnesium is needed for muscle relaxation, in the same way that calcium is needed for muscle contraction. This has many effects in the body, including healthy heart health and healthy digestive function (if the smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal tract are not working optimally, constipation and slow motility can occur, which magnesium can help!). Realistically, one would want to be supplementing orally for that too. But magnesium sulfate is great for sore, achy muscles – whether due to chronic illness or post-exercise.
3. They boost detoxification
The sulfate part of magnesium sulfate helps to boost detoxification. Part of the detox effect is through elimination as the hot water can promote sweating. More importantly though, is the effect on liver detoxification pathways. The liver requires certain substrates to combine with toxins for elimination. Sulfation is one of the pathways through which this occurs. More sulfates allow for better sulfation of toxins and great elimination. Sulfation is also necessary for the hormone cholecystokinin to function, a necessary trigger for pancreatic enzymes and bile release from the gallbladder. And, it nourishes the gastrointestinal system via the production of mucins – glycoproteins that line and protect the GI tract.
Epsom salts baths have so many health-promoting properties, but as with anything, are not for everybody. People who are really sulfur sensitive may not do well with them. People who are highly toxic may feel awful at first as their body is trying to throw off toxins. Starting with small amounts of Epsom salts and shorter baths and building up gradually is important. Really sensitive folks are advised not to have their bath too hot too, as the heat can make some people feel worse.
And for those who do not have a bathtub – a footbath will still give some health-giving benefits, perhaps just not to the same extent as a full-body soak.
You can add essential oils to Epsom salts baths for additional relaxation effects. Start with 1/2 cup of the salts, then build up to 2 cups, adding just a couple of drops of your favorite oil.