Do Epsom Salt Baths Work?

At the end of one of my classes yesterday, one participant told another to go home and soak in an Epsom salt bath to help muscle soreness. Taking an Epsom salt bath, is meant to detoxify the body, cure muscle aches and soreness and alleviate join pain.

So, is it true? Will a quick soak in an Epsom salt bath speed recovery or help prevent muscle soreness? Here’s my take…

First Epsom salt is not salt at all, but rather the mineral magnesium sulfate heptahydrate. It obtained its name because it was first discovered and produced by boiling down minerals found in Epsom, England. Now here’s where the entire argument for its use gets dicey. The proponents of Epsom salt claim that magnesium found in the ‘salt’ is readily absorbed through the skin and into the body. If this were true and magnesium levels were raised by soaking in the salts then perhaps there would be some benefits. Magnesium is widely known as a crucial mineral in the human body. It helps keep blood pressure normal, bones strong and maintains a healthy heart rhythm. In addition magnesium is heavily involved in protein synthesis, energy production and detoxification.

In theory this sounds great right? Rub some magnesium on your skin and boost your levels. There’s just one issue – your skin is virtually waterproof. If it weren’t you’d dry up like a prune and die of dehydration. Without some type of topical carrier to help the magnesium penetrate the skin and get absorbed, it follows that nothing comes of an Epsom salt bath. You can’t simply sit in magnesium saturated water for any length of time and expect that the mineral will miraculously appear in your body. In fact in the hospital, magnesium injections and IV’s are given to patients who are deficient. Last I heard, no MD is sending people home with a script for an Epsom bath.

The other issue is this – even if Epsom baths did work as claimed and your body did in fact absorb magnesium, you’d only benefit if you were suffering from low levels. If you had normal levels of the mineral in your body, your kidneys would certainly just flush it out and rid the excess from your system. Plus as I’ve stated when speaking of taking vitamins and supplements, you only reap the benefits while using the product. IF salt baths did work, you’d have to take one every day to maintain the levels of magnesium. Simply taking a bath one day per week will do little to raise levels across the board. Do you see my point? When taking multivitamins and minerals, the protocol is everyday, not just once per week.

Honestly I looked high and low for research on this subject and I can tell you it seems to merely be a bit of an urban myth. However you will find people who swear by the use of Epsom Salts and will argue strongly that they do indeed work. I believe that even if a trivial amount of magnesium were to somehow make it’s way into the body, it would hardly be enough to prevent aches and pains, let alone produce a feeling of calmness (another supposed benefit), detoxify the body or produce any results linked to magnesium.

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