Magnesium is the second most abundant element in human cells and fourth most important positively charged ion in the body. It helps the body regulate over 325 enzymes and plays an important role in organizing many bodily functions, like muscle control, electrical impulses, energy production and the elimination of harmful toxins.
Most of us are deficient in magnesium, so soaking in a bath with Epsom salt, which is high in magnesium, is one of the easiest ways to get a boost. According to the National Academy of Sciences, American’s magnesium deficiency 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.
Why Is Magnesium Important?
Our 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.
The Part Calcium Plays In Magnesium Depletion
Another factor in decreased magnesium levels has been our focus on getting enough calcium. 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 can come to work, but studies show that magnesium is not easily absorbed through the digestive tract. The presence of specific foods or drugs, certain medical conditions, and the chemistry of a person’s stomach acid can render magnesium supplements ineffective.
Epsom salt, known scientifically as hydrated magnesium sulfate 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 sulfate are both easily absorbed through the skin. Sulfates play an important role in the formation of brain tissue, joint proteins and the 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.
Health Benefits Of Epsom Salt
Researchers and physicians suggest these health benefits from proper magnesium and sulfate levels, as listed on the website of the Epsom Salt Industry Council:
1. Eases stress and relaxes the body
Stress drains the body of magnesium and increases levels of adrenaline. When dissolved in warm water, Epsom salt is absorbed through the skin and replenishes the level of magnesium in the body. The magnesium helps to produce serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of calm and relaxation. Research shows that magnesium also increases energy and stamina by encouraging the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the energy packets made in the cells. Experts believe that bathing with Epsom salt at least three times a week helps you to look better, feel better and gain more energy. Magnesium ions also relax and reduce irritability by lowering the effects of adrenaline. They create a relaxed feeling, improve sleep and concentration, and help muscles and nerves to function properly.
2. Relieves pain and muscle cramps
An Epsom salt bath is known to ease pain and relieve inflammation, making it beneficial in the treatment of sore muscles, bronchial asthma and migraine headaches. In addition, it has been known to heal cuts and reduce soreness from childbirth. Mix a thick paste of Epsom salt with hot water and apply to get soothing comfort. Try soaking your aching, tired (and smelly) feet in a tub of water with half a cup of Epsom salt softens skin and will even neutralize foot odor.
3. Helps muscles and nerves function properly
Studies show that Epsom salt can help regulate electrolytes in your body, ensuring proper functioning of the muscles, nerves and enzymes. Magnesium is also known to be critical in the proper use of calcium, which serves as a main conductor of the electric impulses in your body.
4. Helps prevent hardening of arteries and blood clots
Epsom salt is believed to improve heart health and help prevent heart disease and strokes by improving blood circulation, protecting the elasticity of arteries, preventing blood clots and reducing the risk of sudden heart attack deaths, lowering blood pressure.
5. Makes insulin more effective
Proper magnesium and sulfate levels increase the effectiveness of insulin in the body, and can help to lower the risk or severity of diabetes.
6. Relieves constipation
Numerous studies have revealed that Epsom salt can be used to treat constipation. Taken internally, Epson salt acts as a detoxifying agent for colon cleansing. The salt acts like a laxative by increasing water in the intestines and can bring about temporary relief from constipation. However, it is strictly warned that Epsom salts should not be used to relieve constipation without the consultation of a physician.
7. Eliminates toxins from the body
The sulfates in Epsom salt help flush toxins and heavy metals from the cells, easing muscle pain and helping the body to eliminate harmful substances. Your skin is a highly porous membrane and adding the right minerals to your bathwater triggers a process called reverse osmosis, which actually pulls salt out of your body, and harmful toxins along with it. For a detoxifying bath, at least once weekly add two cups of Epsom salt to the water in a bathtub and soak for 10 minutes.