Epsom salt is one of many naturally occurring mineral salts, a compound of magnesium and sulfate in rock-like formations. The name “Epsom salt” is a nod to the town of Epsom, located a stone’s throw away from London in England, where the salt was supposedly discovered about 400 years ago.
While it resembles table salt, it has a very bitter taste and isn’t really meant to be consumed. Most users dissolve it in a warm bath for a soak with the hope of relieving stress or sore muscles.
The benefits of an Epsom salt bath
Natural and affordable, Epsom salt is a key ingredient in various at home beauty and spa treatments. It can gently exfoliate and brighten your skin, whilst also making your skin smooth and soft.
Users typically dissolve Epsom salt in bath water to release magnesium and sulfate ions and reap the benefits.
- Stress relief – While some experts suggest that stress relief comes from the warm bath itself, others believe Epsom salt helps stabilize mood and relieve stress, anxiety and depression. In fact, some claim that taking magnesium increases serotonin (happiness or relaxation hormone) production in your brain.
- Muscle pain – Epsom salt is used to relax muscles and relieve pain in the shoulders, neck, back and skull. For example, by relaxing the muscles surrounding your skull, the magnesium in Epsom salt may help release a headache or migraine. This benefit can also aid sore muscles in the recovery period after a workout.
Side effects of an Epsom salt bath
Generally, there aren’t any — but there are some instances where caution is advised. Epsom salt baths aren’t recommended for people with:
- Severe skin inflammation.
- Skin infections.
- Open wounds.
- Severe burns.
If you’re curious about Epsom salt baths or have any concerns, check with your healthcare provider before using Epsom salts.