by Benita Zahn
In my book, one of life's little pleasures is soaking in a tub to which I've added Epsom Salt. It's both relaxing and, perhaps it's just the placebo effect, but I think it eases sore muscles after a workout. Like so many products that have been around for ages there's plenty of anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of Epsom salts but very little bona fide research. Let's face it, no one is going to get rich by investing a bundle of cash studying this stuff.
So, what is Epsom salt and how does it work?
It's a naturally occurring mineral composed of magnesium sulfate, sulfur, and oxygen. It's not to be confused with any type of table salt. Most of the reported benefits of Epsom salt are linked to the magnesium, a mineral most of us don't get enough of. It's linked to bone health, stress reduction and supporting our immune system.
Soaking in a bath with Epsom salt reportedly helps relieve inflammation, relieve aches and pains and helps relax you. How much magnesium we actually absorb through the skin remains debatable. The Mayo Clinic recommends using 2 cups of the salt to a gallon of water or simply the water that fills a traditional bathtub. Then soak for 15 -20 minutes. Keep in mind that some find Epsom salt drying to the skin so you may have to adjust the amount that feels best for you.
There's really no downside to an Epsom salt bath unless you have an open wound. However, if you have diabetes, kidney disease, heart problems or are pregnant, talk with your doctor before using this product.
If you're not ready to take the plunge, you can simply fill a small tub for a foot soak. Epsom salt has been used to battle stinky feet and may also be used in conjunction with medication to treat foot or toenail fungal infections. It's recommended you soak your feet twice a day for 20 minutes but be sure to check with your doctor before you do this if medication has been prescribed for your foot condition.
So, the next time you stop by the drug store consider buying a bag of Epsom salt. You can get the plain old variety or one that's infused with scent and see if you can soak away your soreness.
About Dr. Benita Zahn
Benita is a certified Health and Wellness Coach working with clients at Capital Cardiology Associates. Benita spent more than 40 years as a health reporter and news anchor at WNYT in Albany, NY. She covered issues such as wellness, treatment breakthroughs, aging, nutrition, and the latest health care trends. Benita’s work has taken her around the world and across the USA. Benita is a contributor to the weekly “Live Smart” page in the Times Union, the HMRRC Pacesetter and the new magazine 55+LIVING. Benita also created and co-hosts the podcast EVERYTHING THEATER.