Saturday, June 15, 2013

I'm Soaking In It--The Benefits of Epsom Salt and Sea Salt Baths for Me

I guess it began as general knowledge, that soaking something in epsom salts and sea salts could draw out infections, or help with muscle aches and pains. It may have been something handed down to me from my mother, or grandmother. It's one of those things that I can not quite pinpoint, but assume to be true, because of repeated exposure to hearing it.

There are some that say that the benefits of epsom salts and sea salts are myths, that there are no studies done that prove that soaking in epsom and sea salts provide any benefits at all, that perhaps it is the act of soaking in hot water alone that provides the benefits. I have not conducted any scientific studies. I can not add anything to that discussion, except to say that I love my epsom and sea salt baths. They make me feel better, in terms of mood, relaxation, pain relief in muscles and joints, softer skin, energy level, and are especially helpful when, like now, I have a viral infection (a summer cold that has settled in my lungs).

I am not alone! Well, yes! I'm alone in my tub! But many people share my love of soaking with epsom and sea salts. A simple search online will provide many testimonials and recipes and methods of use.

Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate. Magnesium is required in our bodies for proper functioning of numerous enzymatic activities. From muscle control, nerve impulse control, digestive processes, in fact, over 300 processes in the body require magnesium. Our diets are magnesium poor, because of depletion in soils of modern day "farming," but magnesium can be found in foods such as leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains.

My online searches have also discovered:
  • Magnesium is also found in dark chocolate. 
  • Magnesium deficiency has been linked to depression. (Ahhhh, so that's why perhaps I crave chocolate, and why chocolate gives me the "lift" I need.)
  • Epsom salt baths can help with autism.
Read here for more of the health benefits of epsom salts and here for how epsom salts baths work.

I include sea salt in my baths because of it's health benefits too, for healing skin issues, which I have from lichen planus. I have witnessed first hand the benefits on healing of a good soak in the sea. Regular table salt won't do. Sea salt has trace minerals that your body needs which are not present in regular table salt. Table salt is just sodium chloride. Sea salt is sea water that has been evaporated. There are many resources online that tout the benefits of the salts from different seas, in particular Celtic Sea Salt or Dead Sea Salt. Again, these are choices you can make based on your own research. Sea salt is also reported to help with detoxing your body. Read here for more information about the benefits of sea salt.

I also include lavender in my baths because of its antibacterial and antiviral properties. The benefits of lavender are abundant, but include helping stress, anxiety, pain, hair loss, insomnia, respiratory ailments (including bronchitis and sinus infections), urinary health, and skin disorders. Again, a simple online search for the benefits of using lavender will produce many resources, including this one from the University of Maryland Medical School.

So what follows below is the "recipe" which is not really a recipe. It is so simple in fact, and can be done in so many ways, that I hope you will try. You can use plain epsom salts, or plain sea salts. You can combine them in different proportions, depending on what you have on hand. You can eliminate the lavender essential oil or you can use a different essential oil, depending on what properties you are looking for, or again what is on hand. For instance, I make up some of the epsom salts with tea tree oil for a foot soak for my youngest girl, to help with ingrown toenails.

My Epsom and Sea Salt Bath Soak with Lavender
  • Choose an empty, clean, preferably glass container with a lid.
  • Add epsom salts about 2/3 of the way up.
  • Add sea salt to within an inch from the top of the container.
  • Add 25 drops of lavender essential oil.
  • Shake container well, and allow to sit at least overnight before using.
  • Use about 1 or 2 handfuls of this mixture in bath of warm water at least once a week, more often if needed.
A special note: at this point in time, I am using what I have on hand, readily available to me. I find my epsom salts at a local department store, my sea salt at the grocery store, and my lavender from Mountain Rose Herbs.

I hope you will try to make some special salts of your own!

Best Wishes!

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