Question: When is salt, not salt? Answer: When it’s Epsom Salt! – you see Epsom Salt is not really salt at all – its chemical name is magnesium sulfate – a mixture of the mineral magnesium, and the compound, sulfate. It’s famous for adding to bathing water, in order to supplement the body’s levels of its two main natural chemical ingredients, because absorption through the skin is best way of getting these essential substances into the human body.
The history of Epsom Salt
Epsom Salt originally came from a fresh spring in Epsom, Surrey, England, where the water rises up through the layers of porous chalk and non porous London clay, which form the hills in a region known as the Epsom Downs.
The history of Epsom Salt started with its discovery back in 1618 when a farmer in Epsom realized that his cows weren’t too keen to drink the water on his farm because it tasted so bitter. He also came to realise that this same bitter water also seemed to have the power to speed the healing of scratches and skin ailments such as rashes. Word spread slowly, and Epsom Salt was born.
Epsom became one of the first ever Spa towns, although in later years it was overtaken by towns whose spa water springs produced greater quantities of water. The term “Epsom Salts” was first coined by a chemist called Nehemiah Grew in the book he wrote in 1695 on the subject of “bitter purging salt”.
Looking and feeling good
For many years Epsom Salt has been renowned both for its benefits in beauty treatment, and in general health and well being. It’s this health and well being aspect that is of particular importance in terms of following a holistic health lifestyle – though of course there’s nothing wrong with a little beauty either!
Epsom Salt as a Beauty Treatment
The two main uses of Epsom Salt as beauty treatments are for enhancing skin health, and improving the quality of your hair.
Epsom Salt and Skin Health
Our bodies are constantly producing new cells. Old cells die and new cells replace them at a rate of about 1 million per day. Although it’s something of a revolting thought, the majority of the dust you find in your house is made up of your dead skin cells. Over the period of one year, we each shed approximately 8 pounds of dead skin, and this is what the dust mites in our houses live on – us – or rather bits of what once was us!
The outer layer of your skin in constantly covered in dead skin cells. If these don’t get fully removed they can remain behind and clog up your new skin cells. That’s why we exfoliate. Exfoliation is the way that we slough off all of that dead skin, leaving behind healthy new skin cells that can breathe freely. That’s why exfoliated skin looks so clean and healthy – it’s because it is!
Epsom salt is a great exfoliator
In order to exfoliate successfully you need to apply something slightly abrasive. Not too abrasive or you’ll make your too skin sore. The best way is to apply handfuls of Epsom Salt to wet or damp skin. and rub it well. Afterwards you can shower down, or for even more health benefits (which you can read later on in this article), relax in a nice warm Epsom Salt bath. Another great tip for skin health – add some olive oil to your bath water – it acts like a skin moisturizer. You can add up to say ½ a cup into a tub-full of water, but less if you prefer. Find the level you feel comfortable with depending on our skin’s natural oil content.
Epsom Salt as an Acne treatment
Oh yes, one other thing. It’s great for acne too. The exfoliation aspect is important because it helps to clean your skin’s pores, and the antimicrobial content of the sulfate means that Epsom helps to fight off any acne bacteria.
Epsom Salt as a hair care treatment
You can also use Epsom Salt as a hair care treatment to remove toxins, clean your scalp, and to add volume to your hair. Simply add to hair conditioner in equal amounts; apply, working well into your scalp, and leave it for 20 minutes before washing out with warm water.
Epsom Salt for Health and Well Being
Epsom salt is also great for your general health and well being. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the most effective way of getting the maximum general health benefit from Epsom Salt is to add it to your bath water – approximately 2 cups per bathtub will do fine.
The roles of magnesium and sulfate
Magnesium is an essential element that has multiple roles in helping to keep your body systems working to their optimum. It’s an important element in the regulation and activity of over 325 enzymes, some of which are responsible for reducing inflammation, for enhancing muscle and nerve function, and for reducing the hardening of your arteries. In addition to the many benefits of magnesium, the sulfate element in Epsom salt helps to increase your body’s absorption of nutrients, as well as being able to promote detoxification. Acting in harmony, these two important compounds of Epsom Salt provide many health benefits, including:
- Prevents hardening of the arteries
- Helps to prevent blood clots from forming
- Helps to relieve joint pain
- Soothes and relaxes sore muscles
- Soothes sprain pain
- Helps to lessen bruise inflammation
- Relaxes tension and stress
- Helps the body to detox
- Improves bone integrity
- Helps to prepare your body for a good night’s sleep
- Reduces the risk of diabetes through enhanced insulin management
All of the above listed health benefits are accessible just by taking an Epsom Salt bath 2 to 3 times per week. There are certain other health benefits that Epsom Salt can offer too; when administered differently.
- Foot health: add half a cup of Epsom salt to a bowl of warm water and soak your feet in it too soothe foot pain; nullify any odor, and soft than any hard and rough skin.
- To treat constipation: Epsom Salt can be used as an effective laxative to help treat constipation, by adding 1 teaspoon to a glass of water. The magnesium sulfate that Epsom Salt contains has the ability to draw water into the bowel, which then softens any stools, making them easier to pass. It is recommended that you check with your doctor before using.
- Bug bites and skin inflammation: Dissolve one tablespoon of Epsom salt into half a glass of warm water and allowed to cool before applying to be affected area.
- Mild sunburn: the same solution as described above can also be used to soothe mild sunburn.
Make room for Epsom Salt in your holistic health medicine cabinet
Finding wholly natural ways of treating certain conditions and improving your overall health well-being are key in helping you to achieve a holistic health lifestyle, and Epsom Salt, whether administered in a soothing, relaxing bath, or prepared in one of the other ways described above can be a great help. So always make sure you’ve got some in your medicine cabinet.