Medical Does soaking in Epsom salts help?

  1. Hi everyone.

    Just curious if taking a long bath in Empson salts actually helps in, say, muscular discomfort, or is that total bunk? What is the scientific evidence??

  2. jcsd
  3. Drakkith

    Staff: Mentor

    Dunno bout the salt, but I'd say a hot bath would help.
  4. Right. I undertand the hot water...or sauna...etc...
    Some have suggested Epsom salts. Just curious if there is actually anything to it.
  5. Magnesium sulfate (epsom salt) is has been seen to be absorbed into the body through the skin in this study:

    Magnesium sulfate is an anti-inflammatory.

    So the fact that soaking in a bath allows it to be absorbed coupled with the fact that it is an anti-inflammatory, seems to indicate that it is indeed a possible treatment.
  6. lisab

    lisab 3,188
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I asked my niece about epsom salts several years ago - she's a veterinarian. This is just what she said was taught at vet school - that soaking in it is an effective anti-inflammatory.

    Interesting point in the study - although blood levels were raised at lower concentrations, the effective level for most people was 600g salts/60 liters (standard bath size), and at that concentration the water felt soapy. I'll keep that in mind next time I need an epsom salt soak.
  7. Nice job, Norman.
    Thanks so much.
  8. turbo

    turbo 7,063
    Gold Member

    My uncle worked in the woods for much of his adult life, cutting pulp-wood, loading his pulp-truck by hand with 4' lengths of wood (no loaders back then), and he always swore by Epsom salts when he he was sore or lame.
  9. Great point to keep in mind... thank you.
  10. Great testament!!
  11. Wouldn't it be more effective to drink a magnesium sulfate solution while taking a hot bath?
  12. There are other types of magnesium (ex/ magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate) that you can also ingest for relieving muscle soreness (with more affinity to the muscles), but the biggest side effect of excessive magnesium consumption is DIARRHEA because you're causing your smooth muscles to relax as well (your GI tract). Cost of each derivative may also be an issue.

    For relieving muscle soreness/tightness, an epsom salt bath with 600g is pretty ideal. Just make sure that you also drink a good amount of water while you're in there (or before/after) to prevent any risk of dehydration (the excess salt water bath will attract water from your body via osmosis).
  13. Andy Resnick

    Andy Resnick 6,150
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Magnesium is an 'osmotic sink'- it attracts water. This is why laxatives (milk of magnesia) are based on magnesium, and also explains the anti-inflammatory mechanism of soaking in a bath of epsom salts. Epsom salts are an effective laxative as well.
  14. turbo

    turbo 7,063
    Gold Member

    VERY effective! And quite painful, if the dose is a little too strong.

    The osmotic effect was noticed a long time ago (though it was called "healing" effect), and there was a nice industry produced when people figured out that you could boil down the waters from Epsom's wells, and concentrate the minerals to feed spas/baths.
  15. the anti-inflammatory mechanism may be a little more involved.

    increased Mg is also one of the aspects of DASH diet that is believed to help with hypertension, in addition to lower Na and higher K.
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