Epsom Salt Baths Many people are deficient in magnesium, and by simply soaking in a relaxing bath with magnesium-rich Epsom salt we can boost our levels of this important element. Magnesium is the second-most abundant element in human cells and the fourth-most important positively charged ion in the body. Magnesium - the key component of Epsom Salt -- performs more functions in more systems of the human body than virtually any other mineral. Magnesium is an electrolyte, helping to ensure proper muscle, nerve and enzyme function. Magnesium is critical to the proper use of calcium in cells and it is an aid in helping to prevent heart disease and strokes by lowering blood pressure, protecting the elasticity of arteries, preventing blood clots and reducing the risk of sudden heart attack deaths. Magnesium also helps the body regulate over 325 enzymes, helps ease stress and improves sleep and concentration, plays an important role in organizing many bodily functions, like muscle control, helps regulate electrical (nerve) impulses, helps prevent artery hardening and blood clots, helps make insulin more effective, reduces inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps and helps improve oxygen use, energy production and the elimination of harmful toxins.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, most Americans are magnesium deficient, which the academy says helps to account for high rates of heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, arthritis and joint pain, digestive maladies, stress-related illnesses, chronic fatigue and a number of other ailments. Americans' magnesium levels have dropped by half in the last century due to changes in agriculture and diet. Industrial farming has depleted magnesium from soil and the typical American diet contains much less magnesium than that of our forefathers. And in fact, the modern American diet with its fat, sugar, salt and protein actually works to speed up the depletion of magnesium from our bodies.
Interestingly, our focus on getting enough calcium is another factor in decreased magnesium levels. In a delicate dance of balance, calcium depletes magnesium yet calcium functions best when enough magnesium is present. Studies indicate that taking a calcium supplement without enough magnesium can increase the shortage of both nutrients. Researchers have found that many Americans have five times as much calcium as magnesium in their bodies, although the proper ratio for optimum absorption of both minerals is two to one.
With such widespread magnesium deficiency one might think that magnesium supplements would be called upon, but studies show that magnesium is not easily absorbed through the digestive track. The presence of specific foods or drugs, certain medical conditions, and the chemistry of a person's stomach acid can render magnesium supplements ineffective.
Modern medical applications of sulfur include its use as an anti-microbial and anti-bacterial, as a laxative (magnesium sulfate), as an anti-inflammatory, to prevent convulsions, and in the treatment of dermatitis, scabies, and various skin disorders such as acne. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is a common additive in wine and dried fruits because of its anti-bacterial qualities. One common misconception about sulfur is that it has a pungent odor. Sulfur itself is odorless. Hydrogen sulfide (H2S), one of sulfur's more common compounds, does have a very strong odor (like rotting eggs). Sulfates help our bodies to flush toxins, they improve absorption of nutrients, help form joint proteins, brain tissue and mucin proteins and they also help prevent or ease migraine headaches.
Seeing how sulfates and magnesium are so beneficial; this brings us to Epsom salt. Known scientifically as hydrated magnesium sulfate, Epsom salt is rich in both magnesium and sulfate. While both magnesium and sulfate can be poorly absorbed through the stomach, studies show increased magnesium levels from soaking in a bath enriched with Epsom salt! Magnesium and sulfates are both easily absorbed through the skin. Sulfates play an important role in the formation of brain tissue, joint proteins and the mucin proteins that line the walls of the digestive tract. They stimulate the pancreas to generate digestive enzymes and are thought to help detoxify the body of medicines and environmental contaminants. Studies indicate that sulfates are difficult to absorb from food, but are readily absorbed through the skin.
Epsom Salt is one of only a few water-soluble sulfate minerals. The medicinal qualities of magnesium sulfate were first discovered in the mineral waters at Epsom, England and are where the name Epsom is derived. Magnesium is one of the most important of the essential minerals in the body, and it is commonly deficient in the American diet. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties and can be absorbed through the skin. Magnesium sulfate dilates blood vessels, and this property may help prevent further brain injury in stroke victims. A New England remedy for arthritis is a hot bath of Epsom Salts. The heat of the bath increases circulation and reduces the pain and swelling of arthritis. Soaking in Epsom Salt soothes tired, aching muscles. This mineral is known to be helpful in preventing pre-eclampsia (known as toxemia and pregnancy-induced high blood pressure). It is also used in severe exacerbations of asthma. When given intravenously, it promotes broncho-dilation. When taken as an injection, magnesium sulfate blunts deep tendon reflexes and a scientific study is underway to determine what benefit to recovery magnesium sulfate has when it is administered to stroke victims before they reach the hospital. An infusion of Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) given just before delivery to pregnant women at high risk for preterm birth cut the rate of cerebral palsy among these newborns in half, U.S. researchers reported.
Researchers and physicians also suggest these health benefits from proper magnesium and sulfate levels, as listed on the web site of the Epsom Salt Industry Council:
Improved heart and circulatory health, reducing irregular heartbeats, preventing hardening of the arteries, reducing blood clots and lowering blood pressure. Improved ability for the body to use insulin, reducing the incidence or severity of diabetes. Flushed toxins and heavy metals from the cells, easing muscle pain and helping the body to eliminate harmful substances. Improved nerve function by electrolyte regulation. Also, calcium is the main conductor for electrical current in the body, and magnesium is necessary to maintain proper calcium levels in the blood. Relieved stress. Excess adrenaline and stress are believed to drain magnesium, a natural stress reliever, from the body. Magnesium is necessary for the body to bind adequate amounts of serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of well being and relaxation. Reduced inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps. Improved oxygen use. Improved absorption of nutrients. Improved formation of joint proteins, brain tissue and mucin proteins. Prevention or easing of migraine headaches. The Author believes that besides the above benefits - epsom salt baths and sprays will control scabies and other skin problems. They work especially well if you add 3 to 4 ounces of Safe Solutions Enzyme Cleaner to the bath water. Note: If you soak a splinter in an epsom salt solution - it will draw out the splinter.
There are many different brands of Epsom salt, but they are basically all the same chemically, and can be found at most drug stores. Add two cups of Epsom salt (provided you are not allergic to sulfer) and one-half cup olve oil or baby oil and some alfalfa tablets. The oil will help keep your skin moisturized, and it will also help prevent mites from surfacing for air. Chlorophyll may play an important role in detoxing the body of many poisons. Add these three items to your warm bath water and then soak for at least 12 minutes. Do this three times weekly. (Please also read the Human Lice and Scabies Chapter of my free book at: http://www.thebestcontrol2.com .)
If you are pregnant or have any health concerns, check with your doctor before using Epsom salts.