Benefits of Epsom Salt Baths: A Powerful (and Cheap!) Detoxifier
by Dr. David Jockers DC, MS, CSCS
Epsom salts have been used to treat a variety of health ailments by numerous cultures for centuries. Epsom salt baths have astounding health benefits and are an excellent way to destress and detoxify the whole body. However, these salts are not just beneficial for healing the human body. They are are useful as household cleaners and can even nourish the garden. You can find bulk Epsom salts at gardening stores almost everywhere, making them a real health bargain.
The name Epsom salts comes from its origination of a bitter saline spring found at Epsom in Surrey, England. Unlike other naturally occurring salts, Epsom salts are formed from a pure mineral compound containing magnesium and sulfate. Both magnesium and sulfate stimulate detoxification pathways in the body.
Epsom Salt Baths Help Prevent Magnesium Deficiency
More than 325 enzymes in our bodies require magnesium to properly function. Magnesium stimulates nerve and muscle function, limits inflammation, and improves oxygenation and blood flow through the body. Deficiencies in magnesium can cause significant damage to nerves which manifest in symptoms associated with depression.
Magnesium and sulfate are both fine consistency minerals that can be absorbed through our skin and taken up into the bloodstream. Just as your skin perspires to remove toxins through your pores, these same pores also allow minerals in.
Recall the process of reverse osmosis to understand the process which moves toxins out of the body and pulls magnesium and sulfate inward. When you soak in bathwater containing epsom salts, reverse osmosis occurs to help cleanse your body.
How Epsom Salt Baths Help Cancer Patients
Magnesium can also improve cancer patients overall wellbeing. Both the struggles of being a cancer patient as well as a lack of magnesium in the body are associated with symptoms of depression. Taking Epsom salt baths daily can help relieve symptoms of the illness and also reduce anxiety and irritability and improve sleep patterns.
Other symptoms such as constipation (a common side effect of chemotherapeutic drugs) can also be relieved by taking Epsom salt baths. Magnesium salt promotes gastric activity in the intestines which provides a laxative effect. The stimulation of movement in the gut and colon further promotes detoxification processes.
Sulfates are essential for the optimal health of joints, skin, and nervous tissue. When absorbed through the skin, sulfates can promote the health of these tissues. Sulfates also bind toxic impurities in the liver to render them less hazardous. Specifically, the sulfur component of sulfate salts is what binds to toxins, ensuring their elimination from the body.
The once fat-soluble toxin stored in the liver tissue is metabolized, becoming water soluble. It can then be effectively excreted as waste in urine. This detoxification pathway is referred to as Phase 2 liver detoxification, also known as the conjugation pathway. It is especially critical in cancer patients who have been overloaded with toxic chemotherapy drugs.
Phase 2 liver detoxification is dependent on co-factors such as sulfur to be absorbed by the body. In other words, without sulfur or other substances which bind to impurities, toxins from drugs and the environment accumulate and remain stored in the liver, causing dysfunction. When Phase 2 detoxification pathways are impaired, individuals may have symptoms of nausea, headaches and migraines, chronic fatigue, infections, chemical sensitivities, and bloating.
Cancer patients are particularly susceptible to these health concerns because of the high dose chemotherapeutic drugs used in treatment. Phase 2 detoxification pathways are involved in breaking down drugs and removing them from the body.
Epsom Salt Baths Reduce Inflammation
Epsom salts have been shown to improve many conditions associated with inflammation. Daily Epsom salt baths can treat gout, athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, bruises, sprains, and relax sore muscles. Individuals struggling with a chronic illness can also find pain relief from Epsom salt baths. This is due to the natural ability of the salts to pull out harmful toxins, improving both mineral and sulfur balance in the body.
However, you should not take Epsom salt baths if you are pregnant, have exposed cuts or burns on your skin, or are severely dehydrated. People who suffer from cardiovascular disease should first consult your doctor to see if it is safe to begin an Epsom salt bath regimen.
How to Take Epsom Salt Baths
Turn your Epsom salt bath treatment into a relaxing period as you will need at least 40 minutes to soak in the tub. Within the first 20 minutes of treatment the salts pull toxins out of your body through the skin. The second 20 minutes allows for the absorption of minerals to occur.
First you will need to fill up the bath with pure, warm water. A water filtration system in your home will improve your water’s quality ensuring that you do not soak in hazardous compounds such as chlorine, heavy metals, dioxins, or fluoride. Next, add the Epsom salts to the water as suggested below for standard sized bathtubs.
Children weighing under 60 lbs:
Pour 1⁄2 cup Epsom salts into water
Individuals weighing between 60-100 lbs:
Pour 1 cup of Epsom salts into water
Individuals weighing between 100-150 lbs:
Pour 1 1⁄2 cups of Epsom salts into water
Individuals weighing between 150-200 lbs:
Pour 2 cups of Epsom salts into water
Individuals weighing over 200 lbs:
Use 1⁄2 cup of Epsom salts for every 50 lb interval range
Tips for Getting Maximum Benefit From Your Epsom Salts Bath
- Add olive oil to your bath − Try adding 1⁄2 cup of olive to your bath water. Polyphenols found in olive oil contain antioxidant benefits which are easily absorbed into the skin. (Note: if using oil in the tub, take extra precaution to avoid slips and falls.)
- Add herbs & spices − The addition of cayenne pepper or a piece of ginger into the bath water can raise your heat levels promoting your body to sweat and draw out more toxins. Adding these herbs can stimulate the detoxification pathways with as little as 1 tablespoon up to as much as 1⁄2 cup.
- Don’t use soap − Avoid using soap when taking an Epsom salt bath to ensure the ingredients of the soap do not interact with or prevent the detoxification process from occurring.
- Take it easy afterwards − Taking an Epsom salt bath at night may be most feasible to ensure that you can rest for at least one hour after afterwards. However, if you have arthritic joints, you may choose to have treatment in the morning. This will help ensure that you can stay as active as possible following the bath in order to limit fatigued and achy joints.
- Add essential oils − Turn your Epsom salts bath into a luxurious spa treatment by adding several drops of essential oils to the water. Therapeutic oils such as lavender essential oil and frankincense can promote relaxation and stimulate healing and/or just use any essential oil(s) that you enjoy.