If you’re of a certain age, you might remember your parents or grandparents soaking tired and aching feet in Epsom salt baths. This “old-fashioned home remedy” is still an effective way to rejuvenate tired muscles – and do so much more for our health.
Epsom salt isn’t really salt. First discovered in Epsom, England, its scientific name is magnesium sulfate; the “salt” comes from the fact that it looks like table salt. But there the similarity ends.
Table salt has the benefit of providing iodine, an essential nutrient that helps maintain a healthy thyroid. Table salt also is a major player in increasing our blood pressure. Epsom salt, on the other hand, can actually help lower blood pressure.
Importance of Magnesium and Sulfate
Magnesium and sulfate play an important role in the proper functioning of our bodies but we don’t get enough of either. Industrial farming has depleted magnesium from the soil and cooking can further diminish any benefits. The typical American diet contains much less magnesium than previous generations’ and the loads of fat, sugar, salt and protein we get actually works to speed up the depletion of magnesium from our bodies.
Magnesium helps regulate the activity of more than 325 enzymes in the body. It is an essential mineral for maintaining normal muscle and nerve function, keeping a healthy immune system, maintaining heart rhythm, and building strong bones. A deficiency in magnesium can lead to muscle spasms, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety disorders, migraines, osteoporosis, and cerebral infarction.
Sulfate aids in the formation of brain tissue and joint proteins and it can strengthen the walls of the digestive tract. It also plays an important role in muscle control, electrical impulses, energy production and the elimination of harmful toxins.
While eating magnesium-rich foods such as flax seeds and bran are vital to an overall healthy diet, magnesium and sulfate aren’t readily taken in through the digestive tract. But they are easily absorbed through the skin and that’s where an Epsom salt bath comes in.
Benefits of an Epsom salt bath
According to the Universal Health Institute in Chicago, some of the benefits of an Epsom salt bath include:
- Improve heart and circulatory health
- Reducing irregular heartbeats, preventing hardening of the arteries
- Reducing blood clots and lowering blood pressure
- Improve the body’s ability to use insulin, reducing the incidence or severity of diabetes
- Flush toxins and heavy metals from the cells, easing muscle pain and helping the body to eliminate harmful substances.
- Improve nerve function by regulating electrolytes. calcium is the main conductor for electrical current in the body, and magnesium is necessary to maintain proper calcium levels in the blood.
- Relieve stress. Excess adrenaline and stress are believed to drain magnesium, a natural stress reliever, from the body.
- Magnesium is necessary for the body to bind adequate amounts of serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of well-being and relaxation.
Here’s a simple solution for athletes, runners, martial arts aficionados and others who are suffering from sore muscles:
Pour 2 cups of Epsom salt into a hot bath. Soak for at least 20 minutes.