With the hectic holidays behind us, we may feel like we’ve begun the year on frazzled footing. As dark days continue to reign, let’s explore the healing and restorative effects of Epsom Salt Bathing!
Wait a minute, Epsom Salts aren’t actually salts?
That’s right, Epsom salt is not salt at all, but a naturally occurring mineral compound of magnesium, oxygen, and sulfur. Discovered in the early 1600s in Epsom Common near Surry, England, the presence of the compound in a brackish spring that animals would not drink from led to its discovery by cow herder Henry Wicker. He noticed that though his cows wouldn’t drink it, after wading in it, their wounds appeared to heal more rapidly. Once word had spread about the healing waters in this little village, it subsequently became one of the first spa resorts in England, until the natural springs began to dry up in the 1700s.
But first, who should not use Epsom Salts
Before discussing the impressive benefits that Epsom Salts provide, it’s important to note that bathing in it should not be done if severe skin infections, open wounds, or burns are present. Magnesium is processed by the kidneys, so those with kidney issues should also take caution when bathing with Epsom Salts. Finally, though it reached its fame through ingestion, and the subsequent laxative effects this caused, drinking Epsom salts is not recommended. There are many other natural ways to relieve constipation or improve digestion that are gentler on the bowels, as well as the heart and kidneys.
Bathing in warm water opens pores, allowing the body to absorb the raw materials found in Epsom Salts through the skin. The act of taking a bath in itself can be a wonderful stress reducer, but the added benefit of receiving a dose of magnesium makes this activity even more effective. Why is magnesium so important for stress management? Well, it turns out that this unassuming mineral is involved in regulating over 300 biological functions in the body including neurological and cardiac activity, muscle movement, and bone metabolism. And it just so happens that up to 50% of Americans are magnesium deficient, especially for those whose diets are high in processed grains, sugar, and alcohol. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency and stress are very similar, with the most common indications including fatigue, muscle tension, irritability, and mild anxiety. Most importantly, however, is that recent studies have uncovered a vicious cycle, one where stress increases magnesium loss and low levels of magnesium in the body, making it more susceptible to stress. By bathing in magnesium-rich waters – up to 2 cups of Epsom Salt per gallon of water – this damaging cycle is disrupted, and the body receives an exceptionally powerful nutrient that can help restore energy levels as well as calm the mind.
Speaking of a calm mind, stepping into a warm bath is sure to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which governs a serene and relaxed state of being. The presence of Epsom Salts is helpful, again, because of magnesium. It regulates the sleep hormone melatonin and also binds to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, the neurotransmitter responsible for soothing nerve activity and inducing sleep. Drugs like Ambien, Xanax and Valium also bind to GABA receptors, but only magnesium does so without harmful side effects. Combining the use of Epsom Salts and a warm bath before going to bed – ideally at temperatures between 104 to 109°F – has scientifically been proven to improve sleep quality, according to Sleep Medicine Reviews. As the body needs to cool down in order to sleep, bathing too close to bedtime can backfire so make sure to bathe 90 to 120 minutes before hitting the hay.
Better Gains in the Gym
We’ve talked a lot about magnesium already, but we’re not quite done. Just as stress has been shown to deplete magnesium levels, so does working out, which is, in its own way, a type of short-term stress on the body. Supplementing with 8mg of magnesium per kilo of body weight per day, however, has been shown to substantially increase endurance and improve oxygen consumption during exercise. Conversely, the heart and the lungs work harder when magnesium deficiency is present. This is because magnesium aids in the production of ATP or adenosine triphosphate – the body’s main source of energy. Studies are slim on whether or not bathing in Epsom Salts directly enhances athletic performance, but submersing oneself in a warm bath after a killer Crossfit session will definitely loosen and relax tight or tender muscles, and any magnesium that is absorbed will help replace what was used during the strenuous activity.
Not only is it relaxing and rejuvenating, but soaking in warm water is also detoxifying. The warm temperatures, like those in a sauna, increase lymphatic drainage, improve circulation and reduce inflammation while the heat burns calories. Like the liver or colon, the skin also promotes detoxification and is the main organ involved when enjoying a hot bath or sauna. With the addition of Epsom Salts, the sulfates present to soften the skin while also detoxing the body, though there are not many scientific studies as of yet to back these claims. To increase the detoxifying qualities of a warm soak, stay hydrated with plenty of filtered water on hand, soak in the bath for at least 20 minutes, add bentonite clay or aluminum-free baking soda – both of which can draw out heavy metals – or add oatmeal for a moisturizing and gently cleansing detox.
Romantic Date Night – featuring In the Mood Sensual Bath Salts
Why not make a hot bath also a dreamy date night – with yourself or a trusted partner? Create just the right ambiance by lighting candles, having chilled champagne on hand, or perhaps some chocolates or refreshing fruit, and play a romantic playlist of songs softly in the background. With its potent combination of Rose Petals, Jasmine Flowers, as well as Damiana Leaf, In the Mood Sensual Bath Salts is the perfect addition to a romantic evening in the bath. It will fill the atmosphere with sweet, relaxing and yet arousing scents of Rose Geranium and Ylang Ylang essential oils, helping to diffuse tension and increase sexual desire. Hibiscus and Manzanita Flower essences assist in being gentle towards the body, while also being more present in it. As mentioned previously, the presence of Epsom Salts in this bath soak relaxes tense muscles and calms an overactive mind. Obviously, In the Mood Sensual Bath Salts does exactly what its name implies! Happy soaking!