Integrative medicine is known for treating the patient’s mind and body, considering how these are closely connected. Epsom salt is one tool that integrative medical specialists often recommend for its physical and mental health benefits.
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While no clinical trials have confirmed the benefits of Epsom salt, many doctors promote it for its ease of use, reasonable price and minimally invasive delivery.
Naoki Umeda, MD, from Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine, shares seven valuable insights on the health benefits of Epsom salt as well as its recommended usage:
It’s nothing like table salt. Epsom salt was named for a bitter saline spring at Epsom in Surrey, England. It is one of many naturally occurring mineral salts, a compound of magnesium and sulfate.
Epsom salt is good for the mind. Epsom salt helps stabilize mood and relieve stress, anxiety and depression. In fact, some researchers claim that taking magnesium increases serotonin (happiness or relaxation hormone) production in the brain.
Epsom salt is good for the body. Epsom salt helps relax muscles and relieve pain in the shoulders, neck, back and skull. For example, by relaxing the muscles surrounding the skull, the magnesium in Epsom salt may help release a headache or migraine.
Some researchers also think that magnesium is good for reducing inflammation in internal organs. This may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and improve digestion/bowel movement. Integrative medical experts commonly recommend Epsom salt to patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and cold intolerance.
What about Epsom salt’s ability to correct a magnesium deficiency? While doctors expect better magnesium absorption through the skin, there’s no published research that compares oral magnesium supplementation with magnesium absorption through the skin.
It only takes 15 minutes to benefit. Put 300 grams of Epsom salt into a bathtub filled with hot water. In just 15 minutes, you will start to experience the mental and physical benefits of Epsom salt.
Epsom salt is for external use only. Some may claim that drinking Epsom salt is good for detoxification. The truth is that drinking Epsom salt causes some people to experience serious side effects such as severe diarrhea. Sudden and dramatic changes in bowel behavior can be very dangerous and cause dehydration and discomfort. There are no studies to prove that taking Epsom salt orally is safe or beneficial.
It’s bad for people with severe skin inflammation or infection. No one with an open wound or a severe burn should use Epsom salt. If you have an open wound, consult your dermatologist before use.
Buy Epsom salt from a reputable source. Healthy supermarkets (e.g., Whole Foods Market or Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market) typically offer the best quality Epsom salt. Be sure to buy 100 percent magnesium sulfate. Beware of online retailers who may offer exceptional deals but cannot guarantee quality or purity.