Heal your sore muscles with epsom salts
Recently, when sporting an aching body from a looming bug, I remembered the pain-relieving qualities of Epsom salts. I found some stashed away in the back of the bathroom cupboard among my dispensary of beauty staples. I drew a bath, popped in the salts and ahhhhh. My aches and pains eased, my skin felt soft and I experienced an invigoration I hadn’t felt in days.
These little wonder crystals are magnesium sulphate, a potent mix of magnesium and sulphur, and are therapeutic for all manner of ailments, from soothing tired, aching muscles and skin conditions such as eczema or acne (excellent for cleaning out the pores), easing migraines, helping to draw toxins from the skin and body, relieving insect bites to reducing swelling, allaying nervous tension and improving oxygen use in the body.
Epsom salts are a one-stop shop, a skin and body overhaul, an instant spa; and they’re brilliant for adults and kids alike. What’s more, they are readily available and inexpensive. So how do they work?
Basically, they carry out all these beneficial tasks by replenishing vital minerals. Magnesium is one many people are deficient in and it’s essential for good health and skin. It carries out numerous tasks in the body, from regulating an impressive 325 enzymes to improving heart and circulatory health, lowering blood pressure, improving the body’s ability to use insulin, flushing out toxins from the cells and easing muscle pain and cramping.
It increases blood flow to the skin, which in turn increases the absorption of oxygen and minerals, improving skin health and texture. It’s also essential for other nutrients to do their work properly; for example, magnesium is necessary for your body to process essential fatty acids (and we know how important they are for skin health).
Magnesium is required by the body to bind adequate amounts of serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of wellbeing and relaxation. Adrenaline production and stress are known to drain the body of magnesium, so restoring levels of this wonder mineral helps you to unwind while improving much-needed beauty sleep.
The other important mineral found in Epsom salts is sulphur, which stimulates the pancreas to generate digestive enzymes and is believed to help detoxify the body’s residue of medicines and environmental contaminants, toxins and heavy metals. It’s also a good skin detoxifier, with impressive anti-bacterial properties.
Sulphur is required for the synthesis of collagen, a principal protein that gives the skin its structural integrity. You’ll find that most products containing sulphur are beneficial for skin complaints, from acne to wrinkles. To add to its remedy profile, it’s good for joint inflammation, too. Many cultures around the world, including Polynesians, claim to have cured a variety of health and skin problems in natural hot sulphur springs. Sulphur is also found in certain foods such as garlic and onion (brilliant on a blemish, though the downside is they’re usually very smelly).
Sulphur has many different relatives and not all are favourable: sulphides in Epsom salts are different from the questionable sulphites found in preservatives. Apparently, getting substantial amounts of sulphur from food is difficult, whereas epsom salts are easily absorbed through the skin. Epsom salts can be used in baths, compresses, face sprays and creams.
The beauty of epsom salts is they have no odour and you can even add a little clay and essential oil to turn the mix into a more fragrant, therapeutic or luxurious bathing experience. I recommend putting 2 cups of salts into a fully drawn bath.
Footbaths with epsom salts are also a lovely way to experience the salts, promote detoxification and draw tension away from the head while soothing aching muscles, drawing toxins, deodorising the feet and softening any calluses. Add 1 cup to a full footbath.
Epsom salts detox foot bath
1 cup Epsom salts
1 tbsp green clay
3 drops lavender essential oil
2 drops cypress essential oil
3 drops grapefruit essential oil
Dissolve the salts in the water and add the essential oils. Pour into a spray bottle. Shake before you spray onto the skin. Leave on the skin or, alternatively, rinse off after 20 minutes.
Compresses use 1 cup of Epsom salts to 2 litres of water for sore muscles, bug bites and splinter removal. Soak to ease muscle pain and fade bruises.
If you are pregnant or have a medical condition, seek advice from your health practitioner before using Epsom salts and essential oils. Keep essential oils and salts out of reach of children.