A lot of people have seen Epsom salts or heard of epsom salt baths for relieving muscle tension/relaxation, but perhaps don’t really know the true health benefits that epsom salt baths provide beyond that.
The facts on baths: Epsom salts or Epsomite (a hydrous magnesium sulfate) with the chemical formula of MgSO4 7H20 contain elements oxygen, magnesium, and sulphur (sulfur). Because magnesium is so important to our body and a lot of people are not getting enough magnesium in their diets via leafy green vegetables, raw nuts and fruit or perhaps are eating those foods but are still not getting enough magnesium due to how it’s absorbed into the body. There are ways that we can get magnesium without the use of supplements or through digestion-which those who have digestion issues can also have magnesium deficiencies from the inability to break down proteins in order to utilize the magnesium into the blood stream.
How Epsom Salt baths work: The elements that make up Epsom salts, when dissolved in water, work to remove toxins from the body and take in minerals through the skin membrane. This process is often referred to as reverse osmosis. This process allows the magnesium and sulphur to enter through the membrane and create a series of systematic responses. It also allows the muscles to relax, which is why it’s heavily promoted to use Epsom salt baths for muscle cramps and muscle pains. However, there is more to increasing your intake of magnesium other than the use of Epsom salt baths. First, let’s take a look at the benefits of magnesium.
Benefits of Magnesium/Magnesium Chloride :
- All organs in the body rely on magnesium in order to function.
- Teeth and bones utilize magnesium via the parathyroid in order to balance calcium levels in the body. (when calcium levels go up, magnesium levels go down and when intake of magnesium is low, the body uses the bone tissue to increase calcium levels-which long term can cause bone deficiencies like osteoporosis.)
- Reduce muscle cramping and spasms, nervous fatigue, tics and twitches, irregular heartbeat, hypersensitivity, restlessness, anxiety and confusion. (Low magnesium levels cause nerves to lose control over muscle activity including respiration and mental processes)
- Helps with lowering blood pressure by taking 2x magnesium as calcium. (Reverse is true for those who have low blood pressure-both minerals in relatively high amounts)
- Reduces PMS symptoms including menstrual cramps, bloating, mood swings, headaches and breast tenderness.
- Fights infection and promotes antibiotic effects, especially in cleaning wounds because it does not harm tissue, increases leucocyte and phagocytosis by destroying pathogens.
- Promotes good sleep due to the strong relaxing effect as well as reducing depression and stress tension.
- Influences metabolism to control weight, blood sugar, and cholesterol for functioning in the liver, thyroid and parathyroid.
- Aid in preventing osteoporosis (especially those who have a high intake of dairy products from cow’s milk, with the exception of butter)
- Stimulates activity of digestive enzymes and produce hydrocholroic acid in the stomach. (see HCL; Stomach Acid)
- Works to prevent or dissolve kidney stones and gall bladder stones by improvement of the intestinal flora health which normalize digestive processes and reduce discomfort of bloating and stool odor.
- Reduces ‘offensive’ body odors. (including underarm and foot odors)
- Normalizes cardiovascular and nervous system functioning.
Ways you can increase your intake of Magnesium:
- Epsom Salt Baths or Magnesium Flakes. Epsom salt is again, magnesium sulfate, so you will absorb the magnesium through your skin that way. However, there are additional ways that you can increase your absorption of magnesium in a bath by adding magnesium flakes (which is magnesium chloride a more readily absorbed version of magnesium).How to use for a bath? To your warm bath water add 1-1 1/2 cups of Epsom salts, I recommend from my store the San Fransisco Bath Salt Company or 1 cup of Ancient Minerals magnesium flakes to your bath water. Usually you’d want to relax in the bath for at least 15 minutes. It’s important that your water is coming from a reliable source that does not contain bleach chlorine, to ensure that you don’t have the toxic chemical in your water you can use a bath filter to remove unwanted toxins and pollutants from your water.
- Magnesium Oil is an awesome way of absorbing magnesium into your blood stream without having to go through your digestive tract. This is especially helpful for those who suffer from digestive issues and is the most optimal way of delivering magnesium straight to your cells. I recommend Ancient Minerals Magnesium oil or the lotion here (the added MSM enhances cell membrane permeability). You can also make your own oil if you already have the Ancient Minerals Magnesium Flakes by dissolving the flakes in water, similar to your salt bath, but instead use in a spray bottle.
Make your own: Simply add half a cup of magnesium flakes to half a cup of filtered hot water, stir until the flakes have dissolved and allow to cool before adding to a 4oz. glass spray bottle.
To use: Spray as much as you want on your body and rub the oil into your skin. Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes before rinsing if you need to rinse. (I don’t feel the residue and it doesn’t bother me. However if it does bother you, simply rinse it off.) If you do plan on rinsing it off, it might be a good idea to do this prior to showering. I dry brush before showering and I use magnesium oil right after I shower, there is a tingle sensation which is heightened with dry brushing. For some this may be too intense and I recommend using the magnesium oil before showering. However, everyone is different so feel free to experiment with different ways of using the magnesium oil!
Warning: I don’t recommend using magnesium oil after shaving or on sensitive areas of the body. Avoid face and eyes, wash hands after applying.
- Magnesium Citrate or Magnesium chloride supplement
There are a couple ways for taking magnesium internally. Stay away from pill or capsule versions as they do not readily digest in the body and are not easily absorbed through the digestive track. A good magnesium citrate supplement to try is Calm by natural vitality, a powder version, they have different flavors you can choose from that you can add to your warm water or dissolve in warm water and add to your smoothie for those who have a more sensitive pallet. You can also take Magnesium Chloride, a liquid version, as it is also a highly absorbable form of magnesium and is easier on those who have digestive problems.
When using the supplement it’s best to start small and gradually increase.
If you are taking the powder form, Natural vitality Calm, I recommend starting with half a tsp. a day and gradually increase to your own comfort up to 2tsp. twice a day. (Read the warning section for laxative effects)
If you are starting with the liquid form of magnesium chloride, start with a few drops in your drink, or meal and slowly build up to half a tsp. 2x a day. (amount is 600 mg. daily) The taste is salty, so taking this straight is unpleasant and should be diluted.
Note: Your body can only absorb up to 300mg of magnesium at any given time, so it’s a good idea to space out your intake of magnesium throughout the day.
Warning: Taking magnesium as a supplement does have a laxative effect and needs to be kept in balance with calcium and phosphorus. If you are having issues with muscle spasms your blood and lymphatic circulation may be poor making it difficult for magnesium to dissolve and flush out joint calcifications. If that’s the case use the combination of bath and magnesium oil in order to increase your magnesium intake.
For more information regarding the benefits of magnesium check out the database for natural medicine based on published scientific research http://www.hyperhealth.com.
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog about magnesium! I hope you learned about the importance of magnesium and found some good ways to increase your intake of magnesium. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to comment below! 🙂