Whenever I was stressed or my muscles were sore, my mom would tell me to soak in an Epsom salt bath. I never really knew what it was, but I felt better after a distressing bath; however now I question is Epsom salt is actually good for one’s muscles.
Epsom salt isn’t really salt at all. It’s a pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. It also has a variety of uses including hair volumizer, sunburn relief, bug bite relief, dry lips, pedicure, facial, bee sting remedy and more. But my question is how does it actually help one’s sore muscles?
According to Salt Works a website that explains and sells various salts, when the body is stressed it is drained of magnesium and “increases level of adrenaline”. However Epsom salt when in warm water can be “absorbed through the skin and replenish the level of magnesium in the body”. This aids to “detox” the body of stress because serotonin is produced and enables the body to be more calm and relaxed. This explains the aspect of being less stressed after soaking in an Epsom salt bath, but does it physically help your sore muscles or is it just the release of more serotonin telling your body that you are relaxed?
The authors of Salt Works simply state, “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”, but they do not provide any studies or scientific research to prove this idea. It does state later on that “our 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”, proving that Epsom salt does aid with flushing toxins out of your body. But when one’s muscles are sore it’s not because they are filled with toxins, there is simply a build up of lactic acid in a specific part of the body. Therefore the question still stands are Epsom salt really good for your muscles?
Paul Ingraham, the author of the article “Does Epsom Salt Work?” on PainScience questions the medical use of Epsom salt. He states, “Epsom salt baths do not even rate a mention in Home Remedies: Hydrotherapy, massage, charcoal, and other simple treatments. They describe five medicated baths — alkaline (soda) baths, starch baths, oatmeal baths, peroxide baths, and sulfur baths — for conditions ranging from poison ivy rashes to diabetic gangrene (!), but they never mention Epsom salt baths. Could they possibly have just neglected it? Or is it more likely that Epsom salt baths simply have no (clear, known) medical usage?” Ingraham states later on that there seems to be virtually no scientific evidence that Epsom salt helps muscles and their soreness. It could simply be that Epsom salt aids to reduced stress, and one’s brain is tricked into thinking their muscles don’t hurt since they are now so relaxed. However there is even evidence that Epsom salts can’t even get past the skin barrier. Therefore I agree with Ingraham when he says, “There is no good or specific reason to believe that bathing in dissolved Epsom salts will have the slightest effect on muscle soreness or injury recovery time”.