Epsom salts, in my mind, belong in the realm of products usually found in an old people's home, along with large tubs of 'Aqueous cream' (what is that stuff anyway!?) and plastic cups with straws. Basically, I've developed a pretty negative stereotype towards this stuff, and it's not something I've ever used before. Recently though, I can't seem to escape the hype that Epsom Salts are becoming more than just a remedy for ailments associated with the elderly, so I bought some and did a little research. Here's what I found!
According to the 'Epsom salt Council' website, Epsom Salts (named after a salt spring in Epsom, Surrey) are actually Magnesium Sulfate, a mineral compound with many benefits. Our society's diet and lifestyle apparently leaves a lot of us deficient in magnesium, which has been attributed to a number of serious health problems, including high cholesterol, heart attacks, stroke, kidney problems and high blood pressure. Magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral in the body, and our body cannot produce it itself, meaning we have to make sure we are getting enough in our diet. Magnesium is vital for the healthy functioning of nearly every part of our body, from our brain to our heart to our muscles and nervous system. (Source)
So, as Magnesium is so important, evidently Epsom Salts are a great way of making sure we get enough to keep our body functioning well.
Taking regular Epsom Salt baths can apparently provide the following benefits:
Eases stress and relaxes the body- the magnesium helps boost serotonin levels in the brain, proving to be not just a physical relaxant, but a mental one too.
Eases pain and reduces inflammation- apparently good for muscle pain, cuts and bruises, and even migraine headaches. Epsom salt baths are recommended for women following child birth, to ease discomfort and promote healing. Also particularly good for reducing swelling in the feet, as it improves circulation and detoxes the body by being absorbed through the skin and flushing out your system.
Relieves constipation and cleanses the digestive system
Helps muscles and nerves function properly- magnesium helps regulate electrolytes in your body, which is necessary for healthy muscle function, and can treat cramps.
Prevents hardening of the arteries and blood clots, and also regulates insulin levels.
Bathing is not the only way you can get the benefits of Epsom Salts. They are also apparently good if mixed into a thick paste with water and applied topically, exfoliating the skin in the form of a scrub, or treating surface skin issues like eczema, athletes foot and cuts and bruises. Make a paste and lather onto the affected area, leaving for 5-10 minutes and rinsing away. It has also been suggested to mix equal parts Epsom Salt with your hair conditioner and adding to hair to improve volume and remove product build up.
AND it's also great to use around the house and garden apparently! Use salts mixed with washing up liquid to scrub your bathroom tiles, or add to your washing machine (empty of course!) to remove detergent build up. Epsom salts are also apparently great in the garden, providing essential magnesium to plants outside and inside the home. Just sprinkle around the base of the plant and gently dig in, or dilute in a watering can and soak your lawn or garden for greener, more healthy plants. (source)
I'm not ashamed to admit my preconception about Epsom Salt was totally unfair, and I am amazed at the benefits of adding this unassuming ingredient to my bath on a weekly basis. You can find Epsom salts in most pharmacies and chemists, or online. It's clearly not just for old folk!