Image of Epsoak Epsom Salt package

Is epsom salt natural & how do you use it?

Last Updated: August 18, 2021

Our language is about to get salty: Hello, epsom salts! Available, cheap, and easy to use, but is epsom salt natural and safe?

Your grandma probably had a bag of epsom salts under the sink in the bathroom, because, for generations, people have continued to swear by the benefits of these natural salts.

The health and beauty industry is full of epsom salt-based scrubs and soaks. But what do you use epsom salts for and are they effective?

Let's dive in and answer all your questions about this bath time favorite.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional regarding any medical or health related diagnosis or treatment options.

First, what is epsom salt?

Epsom salt’s scientific name is magnesium sulfate, which sounds a little laundry detergent-y. However, it's absolutely all natural and composed of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen.

It was discovered hundreds of years ago in a town called Epsom, England, and has been used ever since for many home remedies.

Even though it does resemble table salt, you don't want to put it in a shaker on the table. It tastes terrible and will give everyone at your dinner party diarrhea. But it's full of other, much more positive uses!


Why is magnesium important for our bodies?

The key element in epsom salts is magnesium, which is an integral mineral in our bodies.

Magnesium plays an important role in our nervous system, heart, muscles, blood, and brain. Studies show that up to 75% of Americans don’t get enough magnesium in their diets.

Magnesium-rich foods include spinach, almonds, and avocados, but each serving adds up to only a fraction of the recommended daily amount, which is around 350 milligrams. Cue supplemental magnesium, which includes pill form and our beloved epsom salts.

Symptoms of a magnesium deficiency include:

  • Leg and muscle cramps, especially at night
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Tingling
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Anxiety & depression

Learn more about magnesium deficiency and treatment in this American Family Physician journal article.

What is epsom salt good for?

Although there are many benefits of epsom salt, there are only a couple of benefits listed from the FDA and other medical sources.

Note: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

These benefits include:

Bowel regulation

The one official FDA-approved use of epsom salts is as a laxative. The recipe for adults is as follows.

  • 8 ounces of water
  • 2-4 teaspoons plain epsom salt rated, for laxative use

Instructions for epsom salt laxative

  1. Dissolve epsom salt in water.
  2. Drink entire amount of liquid.
  3. Do not leave your home.
  4. Bowel movement should happen between 30 minutes and 6 hours.

Mental health

Just as important as physical benefits, magnesium is also said to relieve stress and calm the nervous system.

You’ve likely heard of CALM gummies. One of the main ingredients of Natural Vitality Calm Gummies is magnesium citrate, noted for helping the nervous system maintain balance. We tried them, friends — read about the results here.

In fact, an article in the National Library of Medicine discusses the connection between low magnesium in the brain and severe/treatment-resistant depression, recommending the possibility of magnesium — under medical care — for anyone suffering from depression.

Skin exfoliation

This simple recipe exfoliates your skin in a safe, natural way, leaving it feeling soft and smooth by sloughing off dead skin cells. Consider adding it to your glow-up skincare routine.

Bath salt scrub

  • 1 cup plain epsom salts
  • 1 cup coarse kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup jojoba oil
  • 15-20 drops of essential oils such as orange, sandalwood, ylang ylang, lavender, patchouli, or your favorite

Instructions for epsom salt scrub

  1. Mix ingredients together.
  2. Use a few tablespoons at a time, especially on heels and elbows.
  3. Store in a wide-lipped mason jar — makes a lovely gift, too!

Muscle relief

Many athletes and trainers will tell you that soaking in epsom salts helps soothe aching, overused muscles. The belief is that magnesium enters through your skin and helps ease pain and inflammation.

One small study — discussed in this video — did show a rise in magnesium in participants’ blood, but generally, no reliable studies have shown solid proof of benefits from soaking in an epsom salt bath. That said, most doctors agree that it won't cause any harm, so we say “soak away.”

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What’s an epsom salt bath?

Bathtub illustration

Arguably, the most popular method of gleaning epsom salt benefits is by soaking in a hot bath filled with the salts. Though solid research is lacking, people’s loyalty to epsom salts is not, and that goes for us too.

Can we prove epsom salts draw toxins out of your body like the exorcist drew out the devil from Linda Blair? No. But as a gentle self-care method and an easy natural remedy praised by many for its calming effects, it’s a healthy, peaceful, and mindful way to end your day.

Epsom salt bath benefits

  • Relaxes the muscles
  • Calms the mind and reduces stress
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Draws out toxins from skin
  • Exfoliates dead skin cells
  • Cleanses the skin

How do you prepare an epsom salt bath?

Illustration of person's feet sticking out of bath
  1. Pour 2 cups of epsom salt into medium to very warm running water.
  2. Optional: Add 8-10 drops eucalyptus, patchouli, lavender, or sandalwood essential oil.

  3. Grove tip: Amy Hart, Chief Innovation Officer at Elevation Labs, says: “Lavender, chamomile, bergamot, clary sage, valerian, ylang ylang, and sandalwood are some of my favorite essential oils for sleep.”

  4. Soak for at least 12 minutes.

Some more quick facts about epsom salts

Are epsom salts good for your feet?

Sure! Soaking your feet in warm water with epsom salts may help reduce swelling, draw out toxins, and help you feel relaxed.

Are epsom salt baths dangerous for anyone?

Those with high blood pressure, those who are pregnant, or those who have heart issues should consult their physician before using epsom salts.

Can you eat epsom salts?

Epsom salts should not be consumed. They’re not poisonous, but they are inedible due to being very bitter and for their ability to cause gastric distress. The only reason to consume epsom salts is for a laxative effect when a very small amount is dissolved in water for medical reasons.

Do you have to rinse off epsom salts after a bath?

No, although bathing in epsom salts can create dry skin, so moisturizing — especially with natural lotion — is always a good idea.

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