Epsom salts have been used for centuries as a natural yet effective remedy for a range of ailments, such as a bath salt to treat conditions such as eczema. It contains minerals that are essential for the healthy functioning of the body, and they can be absorbed through the skin during a therapeutic soak in the tub.
As the name suggests, it was first discovered in Epsom Common, Surrey, England, in the early 17th century. The story goes that a local cow herder named Henry Wickham brought his cows to drink from the common springs during a dry spell. The cattle however refused to drink, and on further examination the water proved to contain magnesium sulphate.
The is a type of sodium which occurs naturally in certain foods such as nuts and green leafy vegetables, but is different from regular table salt. The local herdsmen began to notice that their animals who waded in the salty spa waters seemed to recover from wounds and cuts more easily.
This led to a greater exploration of the medicinal properties of the mineral water. It was discovered that if it was drunk, it acted as a laxative, and also eased the symptoms of gout (a painful inflammation of the joints). The source of the sodium soon began to be mined from the Epsom Downs and sold for a range of medicinal purposes.
There is no longer any Epsom salts actually left to extract in Epsom, but equivalent sources of pure magnesium sulphate can be found in Germany. Therefore if you are considering buying Epsom salts, you should check its origin, as some products with this name are in fact synthetically produced.
How can you use Epsom salts?
One of the most popular ways to use pure Epsom salts is to add a cupful or two to your bathwater. This can help to alleviate muscle tension and soreness, helping to ease stiff joints or reduce swelling and inflammation. A soak of about 15 minutes should allow time for the essential minerals to be absorbed to help repair damage and aid the recovery process.
It’s a method used by athletes or anyone who partakes in intense exercise routines, and also by people who suffer from arthritis or other inflammatory conditions. Some people simply find it relaxing and it helps them to have a really good night’s sleep.
As a skin therapy
The salts have traditionally been used as a remedy to treat dry skin and associated conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis. This can be a particularly distressing problem at this time of the year when the cold dry air means that our skin is prone to become dry, cracked, and red.
Many people find that after a soak in a warm bath with two cupfuls of dissolved Epsom salts, the inflammation and redness of the skin is soothed. The salts will also help to remove dead skin cells, helping to leave your skin feeling smoother and softer and promoting the healing of any cuts and scratches.