We all know what table salt is, and its rather humble beginnings. But, what about the miracle that is Epsom salt? Do you know its convenience or its healing properties? What about its fascinating background? If you want to learn more about this glorious compound, then this article is for you.
As you read, you’ll be introduced to the history, the uses, the benefits, and the side effects of this unassuming remedy. But first, what is it in the first place?
What is Epsom Salt Anyway?
Also known as magnesium sulfate, Epsom salt is not your everyday table salt. It does look a bit like it. They have the same powdery-white consistency. Their main difference is that it’s rather unpleasant taste-wise, with a bitter taste throughout.
With 9.8 percent magnesium, along with sulfur and oxygen, it’s a prominent source for your magnesium needs. Because of this, people have been using it for health reasons like as a natural laxative and muscle relaxant. If you’re having trouble finding Epsom salt, it’s called मैग्निशियम सल्फेट (maignishiyam salphet) in Hindi or ملح إنكليزي (milh ‘iinkiliziun or malh inglizi, which translates to English salts) in Arabic. You can find high-quality Epsom salts online or in your local pharmacies.
The History of Epsom Salt
You’ll be surprised to know that Epsom salt was named after the town of Epsom in Surrey, England. It was 400 years ago, or roughly 1618. During this time, a local cow herder named Henry Wicker noticed something about his cows.
Even during a drought, his herd refuses to drink the water from a special underground spring. It was rather bitter and acidic, so understandable. Although, the cows never refused to wade in it. Upon further inspection, he observed that the cows’ scrapes heal faster when they do.
Ever since then, the healing properties of this spring have become the focal point of tourists. And by the late 17th century, chemists like George and Francis Moult have been manufacturing the substance for the masses. It was only in 1695 that Nehemiah Grew named Epsom salt with his official Royal patent, calling them his “Bitter Purging Salts”. Then gradually, scientists discovered its other effective uses, such as for muscle soreness and inflammation.
How to Use Epsom Salt
Epsom salt cal can be used in a variety of ways, for a variety of purposes. Generally speaking, you can have them in three broad categories: as a bath, as a compress, and as a laxative.
As a Bath
Feeling tense? Why not make yourself a nice, warm Epsom salt bath? It’s the more widely-used method of using the substance. You can easily dissolve the salt in water. It’s also the safest way to use it. Many people have felt the calming and relaxing effects of soaking in this type of bath.
Of course, you can soak your entire body in an Epsom salt bath. For your sore feet, you can even make your own foot bath or soak. A 20-minute soak should be enough, especially for the full-body experience. Use half a cup for the footbath or 2 cups for the bathtub.
As a Compress
If you want a more localized way to ease your aching muscles, an Epsom salt compress is the way to go. An aching shoulder might not get the full bath treatment. Instead, you can make your own Epsom salt concentrate and use a towel to administer the solution right on the affected area.
It can help treat stiff joints to sunburns in this way. Just be sure to keep the compress on for around 15-30 minutes to get the full effect. For every quart of warm water, measure in a cup of Epsom salt, or around 8 ounces per 2 tablespoons respectively.
As a Laxative
Getting a small dose of Epsom salt relieves your constipation symptoms as well. It’ll leave you feeling refreshed once you’ve done your business. Though, as a laxative, you don’t eat the stuff straight up. You’ll need to dissolve the preferred amount in water.
When kids are between the ages of 6-11, 1-2 teaspoons of Epsom salt in 8 ounces of water is recommended. For 12-year-olds and above, use 2-4 teaspoons in the same amount of water. Adding a bit of lemon juice cuts the disagreeable taste. Passing the 30-minute mark with no trip to the bathroom, you can take doses. A maximum of 2 doses a day are allowed.
The Benefits of Epsom Salt
Epsom salt has a lot going on. For such a simple-looking compound, it does a myriad of wonders for the body. Look through all of the benefits that it can do for you with the list below:
When you experience constipation, your stool takes a while to travel through your digestive tract. Over time, it becomes harder to pass because it becomes denser and heavier. Epsom salt gives you an easier time by hydrating your intestines, making the process way easier.
For Stress Relief
Neurotransmitters are these chemicals that trigger your nerve cells to signal between them. They deal with regulating your mood, stress levels, as well as your sleep. Magnesium can boost these neurotransmitters and excite your nerve cells, thereby reducing stress.
Swelling in and around your internal organs can be alleviated with the magnesium in Epsom salt. Using controlled doses of the substance could potentially cut down the proteins responsible for chronic inflammation. An example of this is the C-reactive protein from the liver.
For Muscle Pain
Muscle cramps are rather unpleasant to experience. Luckily, Epsom salt can relieve the pain you feel in your head, back, neck, and shoulders. Magnesium can soothe the muscles around your skull if you endure a lot of migraines or headaches.
For Various Skin Conditions
A good Epsom salt bath does your skin good too. When you submerge yourself in the bathwater, you can feel your rough and dry skin soften. Moreover, it exfoliates dead skin cells. It’s a rather soothing experience for people with psoriasis and eczema.
This compound does work wonders on minor wounds and sunburns as well. A warm Epsom salt soak or compress lessens any discomfort you may feel.
For Performance & Recovery
This particular benefit deals with before and after your workouts. It has been shown that taking magnesium before exercising may improve your overall performance. It does this by possibly expelling the buildup of lactic acid in your muscles.
As for after your workout, magnesium is also believed to decrease muscle soreness. It relaxes your body while you take a well-deserved soak. Since it enhances muscle regeneration and blood circulation, it shortens your recovery time too.
The Side Effects of Epsom Salt
Like any other remedy, there will always be some possible issues that could happen. If you want to use Epsom salt, consider the following side effects when not used in the right way or in the right dosage:
- Blurry eyesight
- Acute fatigue
- Short of breath
- Arrhythmia or an irregular heartbeat
- Muscle weakness
- Dizziness or bouts of fainting
- Digestive upset
- Sudden change/s in bower and/or bladder habits
It is generally very safe to consume. There are still a couple of exceptions. It’s recommended that children under 6 years of age, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or kidney disease shouldn’t use the substance. It’s best to check with your doctor before taking in the substance.
Epsom salt, or magnesium sulfate, is not table salt. Instead of sodium, it’s a great source of magnesium. When you need to order Epsom salt for a warm bath, you can easily find it in pharmacies and online.
The discovery of Epsom salt is way older than you think. Thanks to Henry Wicker and his cows, the people of Epsom in 1618 witnessed its curative properties. Then, people like Francis Moult and Nehemiah Grew commercially made the product available for everyone.
You can use Epsom salt in many ways, like as a bath, a compress, or a laxative. The compound greatly helps people who experience constipation, excessive stress, inflammation, muscle pain, and various skin conditions. It can also improve your performance and recovery time during and after a workout.
Though, consider possible side effects, such as acute fatigue, digestive upset, or even diarrhea. Children under 6, pregnant women, and people with possible kidney or heart disease shouldn’t use Epsom salt unless a doctor approves it.