Last week I did a post about natural Castile soap and it’s many uses. Although I am by no means a certified health expert or what I consider to be “granola” (I won’t be wearing Birkenstocks or using a crystal under my arms any time soon), I do appreciate using products that are good for my body and as natural as possible. I got a lot of positive feedback from the soap post so I decided to do a similar post today, but this time, about Epsom salt.
Epsom salt is a major staple in my house. I keep a giant glass jar of it next to my bathtub and generously sprinkle it in the water every time I take a bath. I initially started doing it because I had heard that it helped soften the skin. Which it absolutely did. But I also noticed that it made my soaks so much more relaxing. Upon further examination, I discovered why. Magnesium!
Let’s take a little detour to talk about magnesium and some of the things I’ve learned about it. Magnesium is the eighth most abundant mineral on earth, and the third most abundant in sea water. More importantly, it is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and it is necessary in over 300 reactions within the body. Translation? It’s pretty important and you are most likely deficient in magnesium. I certainly realized I was after discovering I have almost all of the following signs of a magnesium deficiency…
- Inability to sleep or insomnia
- Sensitivity to noise
- Mental disturbances
- Anxiety, depression or restlessness
- Muscle soreness or spasms
- Infertility or PMS
- High levels of stress
- Heart “flutters” or palpitations
- Fatigue or unusual tiredness
- Coldness or tingling in extremities
- Fuzzy brain or difficulty concentrating
- Allergies and sensitivities
- Lack of appetite
- Back pain
- Body odor
- Bad short term memory
- Poor coordination
- Insulin resistance
- Carbohydrate cravings
- Frequent cavities or poor dental health (usually caused by frequent use of antibiotics which deplete magnesium from your body)
- Gut disorders
- Kidney stones
- Thyroid problems
What are some factors that cause this depletion of magnesium?
- Consumption of caffeine
- Consumption of sugar (It takes 28 molecules of magnesium to metabolize a single glucose molecule! source)
- Consumption of processed food
- Consumption of alcohol
- Consumption of produce from depleted soil
- Drugs like birth control pills, hypertension medicine, diuretics, insulin, and certain antibiotics (among others) deplete magnesium levels.
- Sweating often from exercise or other causes can also deplete magnesium.
So now you know what it is, that you’re probably deficient in it, and how you got that way. But what does magnesium actually do, and why is it so good for you?
- Gives rigidity AND flexibility to your bones (more important than Calcium in many cases)
- Regulates and normalizes blood pressure
- Prevents and reverses kidney stone formation
- Promotes restful sleep
- Helps prevent congestive heart failure
- Eases muscle cramps and spasms.
- Decreases insulin resistance
- End cluster and migraine headaches
- Enhances circulation
- Relieves fibromyalgia and chronic pain
- Treats asthma and emphysema
- Encourages proper elimination (it helps you go poo)
- Prevents osteoporosis
- Proper Vitamin D absorption
- Aids weight loss
- Lessen or remove ADD or ADHD in children
- Emerging evidence is showing a preventative role in many cancers
Man that sure is one helpful element off the periodic table! But how do we get more of it? Well unfortunately, magnesium is often not well absorbed by the digestive tract, and is even more difficult to absorb if you are deficient or are low in vitamin D, have poor gut bacteria or suffer from a number of other conditions. On top of that, most foods are depleted of their natural magnesium levels and the water supply is lacking also. But there are some things you can do…
- Eat lots of leafy greens especially sea vegetables like kelp and nettles.
- Use a topical magnesium spray as it can more quickly enter the blood and tissues of the body since you don’t have to digest it.
- Use Epsom salt, which is rich in magnesium!
Whew, it was quite a detour but we made it back on course to our topic at hand, Epsom salt! Epsom salt, named for a bitter saline spring at Epsom in Surrey, England, is not actually salt but a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. Long known as a natural remedy for a number of ailments, it has numerous health benefits as well as many beauty, household and gardening-related uses. Studies have shown that magnesium and sulfate are both readily absorbed through the skin, making Epsom salt baths an easy and ideal way to enjoy the amazing health benefits.
The wonders of Epsom salt have been well known for hundreds of years and unlike other salts, Epsom salt has beneficial properties that can soothe the body, mind and soul. Some of the countless health benefits include relaxing the nervous system, curing skin problems, soothing back pain and aching limbs, easing muscle strain, healing cuts, treating cold and congestion, and drawing toxins from the body. One of the simplest ways to ease stress and stress-related problems is to soak in a tub full of hot water with a few cups of Ultra Epsom Salt.
Here are some great home uses I’ve tried (and a few I haven’t but I’m sure they’re effective) for this magnificent “salt”…
- Relax in the tub! Add at least 1 cup of epsom salt to a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes. This can help relieve sore muscles, soften skin, absorb magnesium unti skin, and encourage a good nights sleep. Try putting it in your child’s bath at night to relax them before bed.
- Splinter Removal- Soak in concentrated epsom salt water to pull out a splinter.
- Better Vegetables- Add a tablespoon of epsom salt to the soil below a tomato plant to boost growth. (this is obviously one that I have NOT tried…sorry dad)
- Heal minor cuts & infections- ever get an infected earlobe from a cheap earring? Soak a cotton ball in warm water and Epsom salt, hold it onto ear for several minutes, and voila!
- Facial Wash- Add a pinch of epsom salt to your usual face cleaner (or to your oil cleansing routine) for a skin exfoliating magnesium boost.
- Tile/Grout Cleaner- Mix equal parts of liquid dish soap and epsom salts and use to scrub tile and grout. Rinse well for a streak free shine.
- Homemade Sea Salt Spray- Make your own sea salt spray to add texture and volume to have “beach hair” whenever you want!
- Volumizing Hair Mask- Combine equal parts of conditioner and epsom salt and leave on hair for 20 minutes. Rinse well and let air dry for thicker hair. (Yeah my hair is thick enough but I’m sure this really works to add volume of you need that kind of thing!)
- Foot Soak- For a concentrated magnesium boost, add 1 cup of epsom salt to a hot foot soak and soak for 20 minutes. This works wonders on yucky calloused heels like mine!
- Laxative- For occasional constipation, a teaspoon of epsom salt dissolved in water can help.
- Headache relief- There is evidence that soaking in a soothing epsom salt bath may help relieve headache.
- Smooth skin- Mix 1/2 cup epsom salt with 1/4 cup olive oil and scrub skin in the shower for healthy and smooth skin.
- Itchy Skin or Bug Bites- Dissolve a tablespoon of epsom salt in to 1/2 cup of water and cool. Spritz on itchy skin or apply a wet compress to help relieve itching.
- Minor Sunburn Relief- Use the same ratio in the itchy skin relief above and spritz on to minor sunburns to help soothe them.
So there you have it! If you don’t have any Epsom salt at home, go get some right away, it’s super inexpensive!